Restaurants and Covid

The UAE is like most of the US in that restaurants are hungry for business. The shut down hit the hotel and restaurant industry hard. Take out (or take away as it is referred to in UAE), as well as delivery has been the go-to for most of us. Our family uses Zomato (Picture from Zomato) and Deliveroo most often.

Just like the states it is accepted behavior to wear masks to enter the establishment. Once at the table masks can be removed to enjoy the items served. In some parts of the US, there are maximum allowances of people per table. The UAE is no different and sets guidelines at eight per table. Often sanitizing wipes and or liquid sanitizers are offered at the table. Restrooms are serviced and cleaned well.

Restaurants offer a bit of normalcy for many of us who felt isolated in our homes with only our screens to socialize with others. As a tourist, restaurants and hotels are necessary to travel. The more open, inviting, and accommodating the establishment, the better the experience.

Live music is beginning to make a comeback in the UAE with some restrictions. It may take some time to revive, but live music is a much-missed part of the dining or clubbing experience. Collectively, many of us have learned to appreciate the ability to enjoy hospitality in public and long for those freedoms to return completely unrestricted by Covid. All in all, most Americans will feel comfortable as well as familiar with the new Covid etiquette of dining out in Dubai.

Covid on the Beach

After flying into Dubai, our family is required to quarantine for two weeks before going to our Villa in Abu Dhabi. This is the case even with a negative PCR test that allowed us to get on our flight to enter the UAE. By choosing this option we do not have to wear a tracking device that would keep us confined to our Villa for two weeks.

We have chosen the vacation responsibly option with social distancing and masking in Dubai. An Air BNB was acquired by Jumeriah Beach for the two-week quarantine period. So far this has been a welcome reprieve from the conditions in Washington State in the United States.

Tourists can enjoy the beach without masks. Amazingly, the social distancing is an advantage as families are not fighting for space on a crowded beach. Restaurants and fun tourists’ attractions are open.

The UAE was already an exceptionally clean country. Attendants were at the ready to tidy up, clean and sanitize bathrooms and public places the second one vacated a table or bathroom stall. It was always very impressive to me that so many workers in this country are employed just for sanitation purposes of public space even before Covid. The good news is they have upped their game, if that could have even been possible.

Dubai is open for tourism and they are doing it responsibly! So, come enjoy Dubai as a tourist or to wait out a quarantine. The weather is great this time of year and the water is warm and inviting! The cuisine is the best in the world and your kids can even count on their American standby’s being delivered right to their door.

Our family for one is thankful to begin living an even better version of normal life with the care given towards cleanliness and hygiene! Dubai is waiting for your family!

Covid 19

The world is dealing with a pandemic and traveling is more difficult. Yet, Dubai is open for business again! Yes, you need a Covid 19 test within 96 hours before you board your Emirates flight. But rest assured, it is possible and fairly easy to do!

The test involves a swab that is put up your nose and swirled around while a medical test person counts. It feels a bit like getting water up your nose. Your eyes may tear a bit, but that is the worst of it! One, two, three, until ten and you are done!

Los Angeles offers direct flights and rapid Covid testing. Make sure that it is a PCR test, as that is the only one accepted. Many places give you free tests and they are getting faster at obtaining results.

What happens once you test negative? Its then time to get travelers insurance, as some insurances will not cover Covid once you decide to travel. Dubai requires that you have it.

Get your negative test, your insurance, and come enjoy Dubai! Hotels and restaurants hard hit by the virus are open and ready for your business! It has never been a better time to travel if you want to avoid crowds! Just continue to be careful with social distancing and wash your hands. Like most places, masks are required in public.

Have it Delivered

The UAE has a huge service industry, everything can be delivered here. Couriers and delivery people are found everywhere often on small motorcycles with a little box attached to the back. Even large items involving a truck can be purchased and delivered in only a few hours. If the store doesn’t offer delivery there are couriers waiting to serve you with amazing response time.

It is not unusual to make a purchase at Ikea for example and then be rushing home, so the delivery doesn’t arrive at your door before you do. A large order is no exception. Many deliveries are free or so affordable that it makes little sense to carry your own items from the store. installation of almost anything is readily available, as well. If a store doesn’t offer the service (which is highly unlikely) then a private company will be attending your needs promptly.

Food delivery of prepared meals through Talabat, directly through restaurants, or even groceries is part of daily living here. Lu Lu’s Webstore seems to be the favorite for groceries by most expats, but that can change on a dime as competition is alive and well here for most things. It’s important to stay networked on social media to keep up with the change and companies that are doing things better than one you have gotten used to using.

Often, ordering food from restaurants can be less expensive than trying to make a meal for your family. Having lived in the land of Costco, we found ourselves speculating where the bulk suppliers were. We were wondering not only for our own use but to explain how restaurants were able to provide such an affordable menu. The sad news fellow American expats, Costco has not made its way to the UAE yet.

Amazon has recently acquired Souq (which can also be added as an app on your phone). I have ordered things and they have been delivered from Dubai in only a few hours for a nominal fee. Amazon is working hard to transform this company to be the staple here like it is for families in the States. I am pleased with their progress. You can use your Amazon account here in conjunction with Borderlinx. All delivery options seem almost too reasonable and make expat life much easier.

It can be difficult to let go of American thinking that it’s better to do and acquire needed items yourself. However, this economy thrives with delivery options and in this case, it is definitely better to adapt and save yourself time as well as money.

As always, thank you for joining us on our adventure as we expat in Abu Dhabi!
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They Pride Themselves on Service

In a lyric from Disney’s Aladdin you might recall Robin Williams as the genie singing, “We pride ourselves on service.” As trite as that may sound, that is exactly what kept running through my head as people tried to help me do everything! I had to get used to people calling me Madame everywhere I went. There is a huge population of service here.

Many people have hired help in the form of maids, nannies, and drivers. The service industry comprises mostly of Filipinos. They are very polite and seem to enjoy working in Abu Dhabi. This took a lot of getting used to for me. We do hire help in the states such as housekeepers and lawn care quite frequently. However here, the help is imbedded in the family. Every home has separate quarters for the help with at least a maid’s room and adjoining bathroom.

Restrooms in malls and restaurants have attendants running in the minute you leave the stall to clean up after your visit. Some stand by to offer you towels or anything you might need. I often felt like I need to apologize and assure them I did not soil their very clean restrooms. I could accept that a fancy restaurant would want that type of service, but a mall has heavy traffic, so it takes some getting used to.

Women advertise on Facebook when they are leaving the country to place their nannies or maids with other families. The ads usually are glowing testimonials of how they could never have managed life without their maids.  If the family stays in the middle East these maids often move with them. Many wear uniforms like scrubs as they move about the community with people’s children.

You can’t really be a “No Helpian” if you come to the UAE. These people depend on us expats to make a living. I just do my best to tip well. Unfortunately, tipping is a bit of a Western habit as well. However, I will save that for another post.

If you are going to expat in the UAE, you might as well get used to the idea that there is a whole service industry set up to make your life easier at very little cost. Hopefully, you can find ways to adapt to this as expats will not change the economy here. You can be generous with your tips and what you choose to pay your help.

Once again, thank you for joining us on our adventure as we expat in Abu Dhabi!

Three Essential Apps

Before even landing at the airport in the UAE, make sure you have three essential apps. Not only will you hit the ground running, but you well keep a little more of your money, as you learn to expat.

When you arrive at the airport the first thing you need to do is get to your hotel without breaking the bank. As you attempt to walk out to the curb with your bags, you will be accosted by transportation handlers. There will be the professional looking ones behind desks and also random people walking around asking you if you need a taxi. Ignore them all! They will hustle you into one of their vehicles and quickly get you to agree to an overpriced fare that does not involve turning on the meter.

Instead make sure you have already downloaded a taxi app such as Abu Dhabi Taxi App. Call your taxi using your app before you leave baggage claim with your luggage. It usually takes a few minutes to arrive and they will give you a license plate number to look for at the curb with a nice little text. Often the taxi driver will call you directly to inform you when they will arrive. You will then be armed with the phrase when you are approached, “I already have a taxi, thank you.” Make sure the taxi driver turns the meter on and ask for a receipt when you get to your destination.

When you get to your hotel, you will be dazed and possibly a little hungry. If you don’t want to go down to the hotel restaurants because you would rather just take your shoes off and put your feet up; you have the Talabat App at your fingertips. Food delivery is quick and affordable. There are many offerings that will give you more options than your hotel.

If you do want to go out after your bags have been delivered to your room and you have your family with you then use your Entertainer App. In our case we chose our location as Abu Dhabi. This app allows you to get two for one in many venues. Most likely, even your hotel will have their restaurants listed. This by far has continued to be one of our most valuable in terms of cost saving apps! We have six people that are here in Abu Dhabi. So, we essentially pay for three meals when we go out. You can use up to four per visit. Make sure and alert your server that you have an Entertainer app before you order. Save yourself a headache and be assertive with the number you plan to use. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure that the items you choose to order are indeed covered by the voucher. Unfortunately, the servers try to limit the number of vouchers you cash in despite being allowed four by the app.

Hopefully your arrival goes smoothly armed with these three apps! Thank you for joining us on our adventure as we expat in Abu Dhabi!

An American Perspective

When first hearing of our family’s new adventure to Abu Dhabi, my husband and I began scouring the web for all the information we could find to expat successfully. Expat is our new verb, just like google, lunch, etc. To expat well we needed others to tell us how they did it successfully. Unfortunately, we found very few blogs or websites from an American perspective. Most were Brits, Aussies, or New Zealanders and frankly if we were to suddenly move to those locations we would still be trying to expat successfully. I say that from experience as we were once moving to the UK and trying to figure out how to do everything despite being in an English-speaking nation.

The experience of living abroad in the UK prepared us for this move and we found the void of information from an American experience something we would like to address. Rule number one to expat successfully is look to a community for support. Luckily, we live in the world of information and social media. It’s much easier now than it was for us to connect to social media groups such as Facebook. You may have gotten tired of Facebook in the states. However, it will now be one of your most valued resources in a foreign country. The UAE is no exception. It is convenient to post a “looking for recommendations request” and information will be delivered right to your wall. No question is too small, and the expat communities tend to be helpful and kind.

The UAE is expanding incredibly! This feels like the next frontier and much like our westward expansion. The UAE can look like a modern version of the wild west with skyscrapers and at times blowing sand, just like the image chosen for this blog. Everything is new and being built faster than the Wal-Mart’s went up in the States. There is a huge need for everything. If you have a niche or an adventurous spirit, come to Abu Dhabi! The culture is very welcoming to everything American. From food, to clothing, to entertainment, all your new favorites and even many of the old brands are already here just waiting for you! Other nations with their branding are also well represented in this new sort of cosmopolitan world.

Hopefully this blog will be a place where other American’s can share their experiences and we can all learn together. I hope you will join our family on this adventure and let’s expat together!



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