Addresses and finding your way around
Most newcomers to Dubai find it difficult to find their way around the city and frequently get lost. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) hopes to solve this by ensuring that each street has an official name. Somewhat surprisingly for such a modern city, this is not the case at the moment and the current time-frame for this is 2011. Instead of street names, people in the city find their way around by colloquial names and major landmarks. One of the best street maps, Dubai Street Atlas, published by Explorer in 2009, relies exclusively on this system including 110,000 buildings and landmarks to guide you around the city.
Although many roads have already been named with white road signs, people rarely refer to these street names and often do not know them. When asking for or giving directions, people rely on the rather complex system of landmarks, including malls, hotels, shops, gas stations, and buildings, together with directions. If you are having something delivered to your house, you may be asked to provide a location map and/or directions. The only exception to this is in the new developments being built on the outskirts of the city and in new Dubai.
Until recently, only 5% of households in Dubai had any property insurance. This reflected the size of the rental market and the fact that expats, who vastly outnumber the local population, were unable to buy their own property. It was also a reflection of the low crime rates with people still able to leave their doors unlocked. As property-ownership has grown, house insurance has become more and more popular with many mortgage providers requiring you to take out both house and life insurance. Slight increases in the crime rates also mean that more and more people who are renting their accommodation are choosing to insure the contents of their home.
House insurance providers include:
Wafi residential Centre
PO Box 290
Tel: 04 324 3434
HSBC Home Comfort Insurance
available from any Branch of HSBC
Tel: 600 55 4722
RSA Dubai (Royal & Sun Alliance)
2nd Floor, Office Court
PO Box 28648
Tel: 800 RSA (800 772)
Water and Electricity
No matter where you are in Dubai, your water and electricity will be supplied by the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA). Water and electricity are paid monthly in a combined DEWA bill. The cost will vary quite considerably throughout the year as a result of Dubai’s climate. In the winter, a family of four will probably find their DEWA bill is around AED 500 per month. However, in the summer months, this may treble, especially if you are in a villa with a garden.
In order to get connected, you can either register online at http://www.dewa.gov.ae/default.aspx, or go to your nearest DEWA office. The head office is near Wafi City in Oud Metha (tel: 324 4444) and is open from 7.30 am to 8 pm. A detailed map with other locations can be found at http://www.dewa.gov.ae/maps/CustomerServiceOffice.aspx.
To apply for your DEWA to be connected, you need the following:
- the DEWA number of your villa or apartment (located on your front door or gate)
- a copy of your passport with a valid residence visa
- your tenancy agreement
- a letter of no objection from your employers if they are paying your rent
- a refundable deposit of AED 2,000
If you are registering electronically, you will need to scan these documents so that you can submit them.
The water that comes from the taps is desalinated sea water. Whilst it is safe to drink, many people choose not to because of its distinctive taste. Bottled water can be delivered to your door on a weekly basis for around AED 10 for 5 gallons. An initial deposit of around AED 25 is required on each bottle.
Bottled water companies include:
- Nestle Water – http://www.nestle-family.com/pure-life/english/
- Oasis Water – http://www.oasiscome2life.com
- Masafi Bottled Water – http://www.masafi.com
Electricity voltage and sockets
The electricity is 220/240V with British sockets. Most appliances sold in Dubai have two-pin plugs. To use these, you will have to buy adaptors, available from most supermarkets.
There are no gas mains in Dubai and all gas appliances run off gas canisters which are delivered to your house. Small gas canisters cost about AED 450 and a refill will cost approximately AED 70. Larger canisters cost approximately AED 550 with refills costing around AED 110.
Gas companies include:
- Oasis Gas Suppliers – 04 396 1812
- Salam Gas – 04 344 8823
- Union Gas Company – 04 266 1479
The mail service in Dubai is operated by Emirates Post (http://www.emiratespost.com). Stamps are available from post offices, Emarat petrol stations, greeting card shops and most local supermarkets. There are mail boxes in most shopping malls. Delivery within the UAE is within 2-3 working days. Allow between one and two weeks for deliveries outside the country.
A comprehensive list of post offices with their opening hours is available at the Emirates Post website (https://www.emiratespost.com/content/english/contact.jsp). Generally, they are open from 8 am to 2 pm. However, there is one 24-hour post office at Dubai International Airport.
The mail service does not deliver to individual home addresses. Your mailing address in Dubai will be that of your employer via a PO box number. If you do not have an employer, or would prefer your mail not to be delivered there, it is possible to hire a private PO box for AED 220 per year (see https://www.emiratespost.com/frame.do?page=/gpaen/detectCookies.do%3Furlc%3Dpoboxrent for more details).
A good shipping company can make your relocation to Dubai relatively smooth and hassle free. Larger, more reputable companies will be able to take care of packing and unpacking, arranging for your belongings to be placed in a container, insurance on your belonging, necessary paperwork and clearance through customs. Be aware that your container will probably be opened and checked. Any DVDs or books which break UAE censorship rules may be confiscated.
Major shipping companies include:
P.O Box 30280
Tel: 04 408 9555
P.O. Box 51773
Tel: 04 289 5152
CSS Homeward Bound
PO Box 27802
Tel: 04 324 5111
PO Box 57084
Tel: 04 352 8884
Air cargo and courier companies include:
Aramex International Courier
Tel: 04 286 5000
Fax: 04 286 5050
Tel: 04 282 6366
Fax: 04 703 4561
Federal Express International Inc
Tel: 04 331 4216
Fax: 04 331 3285
UPS Air Couriers of America Ltd
Tel: 04 299 6088
Toll Free: 800 4774
Fax: +971 4 299 6041
Once you arrive in Dubai, storage companies are available that will store your belongings in secure, air-conditioned storage facilities, if necessary.
Storage companies include:
PO Box 75641
Tel: 04 340 6962
PO Box 38500
Tel: 04 341 2323