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Unusual Facts About Moving to the United Arab Emirates

Apr 05. 2023

Whether you’re moving to the UAE for work, joining family and friends who have already made the move or just deciding to make the United Arab Emirates your new home, there’s lots to learn about the destination.

The UAE is made up of seven emirates. The most well-known are Abu Dhabi, the capital, and Dubai. Alongside these homes to the luxurious and the ultramodern are the smaller and less populated emirates: Ajman, Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm Al-Quwain and Ras Al-Khaimah; all of which have their own identity.

Wherever it is that you’re moving to, there’ll be lots to think about, from organising removals to the United Arab Emirates to changing currency and selecting new schools. It’ll also be incredibly important to do your research on your new home.

Here we look at some of the more unusual facts about the UAE. How many of these did you already know?

  • Possessing poppy seeds can land you in prison.  Its well known that Dubai’s low crime rate stems from the country’s zero tolerance and harsh punishments. Some of the acts the country has rules and regulations about, are sometimes lesser known- so tourists and expats moving to the UAE can get themselves into serious trouble if they aren’t familiar with Dubai’s rules. For example, poppy seeds are a banned substance in the UAE as they can be used to create opium. Even the smallest amount of the seeds is considered to be a violation of the law and can result in imprisonment.


  • Don’t be too snap happy.  Whilst it’s common place for holidaymakers and those who have relocated to the UAE to be taking photos of the country, be aware that taking a photo of someone without their consent is considered an invasion of privacy and in the UAE it can have serious consequences. There have been cases in the media of expats who, after moving to the UAE, had for example taken a photo of a vehicle parked across two disabled parking spots and posted to a personal Facebook page. The individual was jailed, fined and deported. It is so important to understand the rules of the country if you’re making the move to the UAE.


  • Return to sender, address unknown.  The sheer rate at which Dubai has grown has mean that it never actually developed a standard address system. To get around this, residents would draw maps and give descriptions of where buildings were located on postal items rather than writing address lines and postcodes.  It was as recent as 2015 that Dubai started using a formalised system called Makani numbers (a unique 10-digit code) to help identify buildings.


  • Natural wonders.  With some of the world’s most famous man-made marvels, Dubai isn’t the most obvious place to appreciate nature. However, amongst the towering Burj Khalifa and the graceful Jumeirah Mosque, it is though that there are over 320 species of birds that cross Dubai on their migrations. There have been sightings of eagles, broad-billed sandpipers and greater herons.




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