Ask any Dubai resident how long they planned to stay in the city, compared to how long they have actually been a resident. You might be surprised to hear that almost everyone stays longer than they planned. It’s because of the amazing lifestyle, where everything is at your fingertips or the touch of a button, which keeps the international community renewing their leases and signing new contracts each year.
Relocating to Dubai is unbelievably easy: the only thing you’ll really need in order to get your personal admin and social life sorted is a smartphone.
Dubai’s technologically focused government is geared towards making life as easy as possible for its residents with various apps. There’s an abundance of commercial apps that will get you from A-Z in style, and make it easier for you to get organized and meet new people upon arrival.
Video calling apps in Dubai are limited due to most of the common options being blocked. Obviously staying connected with family and friends back home is essential to a quality expatriate experience. You’ll need to tap into some local know-how to learn how to get around restrictions on popular apps like Skype and WhatsApp (which have video calling and VOIP capabilities disabled). Locals report that you may be able to use voice calling for free in Dubai if you’re linked up to a WiFi network that is already paying for “internet calling”. The two telecommunications carriers in Dubai – Du and Etisalat – both support BOTIM, an app that allows users to share photos, videos, voice messages and more — after purchasing one of their Internet Calling packs. Etisalat, for example, offers daily rates starting from Dh 5 and climbing to Dh 50 per month for unlimited voice and video calls on a mobile phone. It can also be used from the comfort of your home through your internet connection, though this also incurs a separate cost for a WiFi Internet Calling pack. Other locally-supported calling and messaging apps whose usage also falls under such Internet Calling packs include Yzer, C’me and Hiu Messenger.
Riding with Careem – Dubai’s favorite car booking app – gives a glimpse of what life would be like with a personal chauffeur. An easy-to-use platform similar to Uber (which recently became the app’s parent company), allows Careem to whisk Dubai residents around the city in style.
Users of Careem’s Standard cars enjoy the convenience of ordering a cab through the app and having their route mapped before hopping in. On the Premium side, drivers are dressed in crisp suits, and the company boasts an immaculate Lexus fleet. As of July 2019, Careem passengers have enjoyed free high-speed WiFi as they ride, with a guarantee that personal data will not be shared with any third party.
For business travelers, it’s easy to get work done while zipping around the city between meetings and events.
Using Careem automatically earns you reward points that can be redeemed for more rides, donated to charity or used to make the most of offers from Careem’s corporate partners. These include some of the Gulf’s major airlines who honor Careem miles as frequent flyer points.
Dubai’s vibrant expatriate community is full of fun-loving people who are up for just about anything, any time of day. While dating apps in Dubai are just as prolific as in the West, getting in amongst the many organized social and sporting events is one of the best ways to make new friends.
Switch&Co is the easiest way to discover everything Dubai has to offer as it’s one of the most comprehensive health and wellbeing apps in Dubai. The international team behind the app have curated a community of like-minded individuals who encourage each other to push their limits, discover their boundaries and have fun along the way.
The app is free to download and lists activities all over Dubai that range from adventurous to indulgent. Classes and experiences are varied: expect to find zip-lining, HIIT workouts, stand up paddleboarding, trampoline workouts, desert cycling and almost everything in between. Our favorite is the K08 workout at Dubai’s fabulous Nikki Beach, followed by hard-earned drinks and tacos hosted by the organizers.
Classes and sessions are booked and paid for via the Switch&Co application. For those that find the pressure of a one-on-one Tinder or Bumble date too intimidating, this is a welcome alternative.
Talabat is one of the best food delivery apps in Dubai. It kicked off in Kuwait in 2004 when a group of young entrepreneurs who identified a hunger in the market. The app’s slick interface means that today, Dubai residents can have almost anything they’re craving delivered right to their door.
Everything from calorie-controlled meals and keto-friendly menus to salty servings of McDonald’s fries and red velvet cupcakes from New York’s Magnolia Bakery can be ordered for quick delivery without registering, or in advance for delivery. Whatever matches your budget – and your cravings!
Using Talabat is free, with the only potential expenses being delivery fees from certain restaurants. Mastercard, Visa and Visa checkout are all accepted by Talabat. Repeat users can load up on Talabat credit to make the ordering process even more simple.
Dubizzle is Dubai’s leading free classifieds site where you can buy and sell just about anything. The transient nature of the Emirate results in a surplus of underused goods and redistributing these through the community fills the demands of new arrivals.
In true Dubai-style, Dubizzle boasts listing the extravagant and extraordinary alongside everyday items. Case in point, an 85% complete Apatosaurus skeleton was listed for Dh 88 million, an Airbus A340 for Dh 150 million and an amphibious limousine was available for just Dh 15 million.
While you may not be interested in dabbling in paleontology, there are more practical items available that will make Dubai life easier. A more reasonable big-ticket item such as a classic car or boat is just as easy to find on Dubizzle as a pre-loved Chanel handbag, once you’ve registered and been verified using a local mobile phone number.
Looking to upskill or find a new hobby? Dubizzle has you covered with language lessons, music tutors, sports coaches and more. Need a freelance gardener, painter or party planner? Take a look at the Community section of the app.
The official app from the UAE’s number one property portal allows you to browse real estate options from the comfort of your Careem, favorite coffee shop or your home country.
The user-friendly app boasts a seamless experience for its clients, taking them on their home-hunting mission from start to finish. The user can find and consult with an agent via the app, and flick through thousands of listings for purchase, rent or sale. The search options are customizable, with options including walk-in wardrobes, private jacuzzi, pool and gyms, concierges and maid services to name a few.
Alternatively, renting a fully-furnished Blueground apartment takes the headache and hassle out of setting up a space from scratch. The centrally located apartments can be booked in advance from overseas, and come equipped with all the finishing touches (including WiFi!). Make use of the Guest App which facilitates cleaning and maintenance, so you can hit the ground running and start exploring your new city without a long list of time-consuming tasks.
Dubai has truly embraced technology and is leading the charge in making the city more efficient – and paperless. The following government-run apps allow residents to stay organized and updated on what’s happening in the city.