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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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I am have been advised to take an assessment trip to Dubai with my family (my wife, 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter) before I accept a job offer. The company will be paying for the rental car and hotel accommodation for 4 days. I am excited and my wife very nervous on the strong possibility of us moving to Dubai from Chicago and as such i wanted to get your advice on the following:
1. A good family hotel - I would like to keep this to around $150 approximately per night. One hotel was "The Ocean view hotel" which I believe is in Dubai Marina. Your thoughts and any other recommendations...
2. I was hoping to visit some houses that I could possibly be renting in 6 - 9 months from now. I wanted to visit 5 - 6 places in expat compound communities with preferably new houses. I was hoping to look at villas with 3 bedrooms in the range of 150,000 AED. Even if it is slightly more and you recommend something, please let me know (definitely no more than 180,000 AED)
3. Since both my kids will be in primary school soon, any schools that you recommend me to visit based on the above housing. I understand there is a big waiting list in many, but any recommendations you make would be great.
4. I plan to visit Ferrari world for the kids...any other places or any other suggestions for this 4 day visit would really help me
Your suggestions will be very much appreciated. I will be in Dubai from 22nd Sep through 26 September (only a few days away)
thank you very much.
 

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I am sure there are no ocean view places in Dubai since there is no ocean here.
Here is the list of top schools I was able to find online a few months ago. Others may have better info on schools since my child is only 3 and right now I haven't moved to dubai yet, still collecting info.


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For schools take a look at the KHDA site which gives you a list of schools, their rating and curriculum offered.

Government of Dubai | Knowledge and Human Development Authority | Schools

You can then narrow down your preference and contact the schools directly to talk through admissions procedures and assessments etc. they may even have parent/child tours.

Not sure about the hotel you mention as haven't stayed there but we live in the Marina and it will be a lovely place to stay for the few days you're here with your family. You're in te Marina and close to the beach....lots to do!

There are loads of things to do with families here but worth checking out Timeout in the link below. A trip to a water park is always good like Wild Wadi, dhow trip or the Big Bus Tour round the city.

Time Out Dubai - City Guide, Information, Events, Reviews & What's On in the City of Dubai

Have a great time!
 

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Just remember Ferrari World is in Abu Dhabi, not Dubai. Its about a 80 - 90 minute drive from where you'll be staying.

If your kids like animals, they might also enjoy the 'Penguin Experience' at Ski Dubai. Everyone I know who has done it (adults included) have loved it :

Snow Penguins at Ski Dubai | Penguins Encounters

I don't know the hotel your looking at, but if you want your wife and kids to embrace Dubai, I'd be tempted to pay a bit extra myself to upgrade a 5 star hotel. If you spend an extra $100/night, the $400 you spend now will be easily recouped once you move here.
 

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If you are serious about trying to view apartment, which is easier said than done, be sure to tell any agents you are looking to move in within a couple weeks. No one will have any interest in showing you someplace if they know that you are not signing a lease for months. Also your chances of getting responses calling from a USA number are going to be small.

The reality is you will be able to drive around and look at neighborhoods to get a little bit of a feel for certain areas, but to actually get inside for viewings on a short visit is going to be difficult.
 

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Ferrari world is a 45-50 minute drive from Dubai Marina

If I were you, unless I wanted a hotel close to the sea, I would choose something closer to Shaikh zayed road due to easier access

You will visit a lot of places; schools and villas during 4 days. Ocean view hotel is in JBR which means getting stuck in JBR traffic which is not ideal because of the construction works, unless they have finished in the 2 months since I was last there .

If you and family are the types who can leave at morning and return at night without need to access your hotel in between, Ocean view will be fine
 

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Abbzia, with regard to your housing question, I already responded on a different thread. Regarding school, primary school is full in 98% of schools that you may contact. The only ones still available will be either schools north of the creek, brand new schools or very expensive schools. It is not uncommon fig primary school to have a waiting list of hundreds of children for one class. You could always send them to nursery while you wait for a school to become available.
Re hotel - make sure the wife is happy (being on her own with kids). Book an apartment close to the mall of emirates, so that she gets a feeling of where an expat wife will spend most of her time! Good luck!
 

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And by all means: take some time to find a good house, don't rush as you will only make it stressful for the family. In any case it will take more than a month for your container to arrive if you're bringing stuff from back home. Spend the first month or so on an apartment, finding a house is not always easy.
 

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Just remember Ferrari World is in Abu Dhabi, not Dubai. Its about a 80 - 90 minute drive from where you'll be staying.

If your kids like animals, they might also enjoy the 'Penguin Experience' at Ski Dubai. Everyone I know who has done it (adults included) have loved it :

Snow Penguins at Ski Dubai | Penguins Encounters

I don't know the hotel your looking at, but if you want your wife and kids to embrace Dubai, I'd be tempted to pay a bit extra myself to upgrade a 5 star hotel. If you spend an extra $100/night, the $400 you spend now will be easily recouped once you move here.
That said, there are probably more people that cannot comprehend keeping penguins indoors, artificially cold, in the Middle East.
You will not find me exposing my children to the 'experience'
 

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Hotel-Marriott Marina and Harbour Suites has 2 BDRM units for 400 USD or less. This will work if your company will pay for two rooms. I struggled to find a multi room hotel in a great or even OK area with kitchen under this price point. If your budget is 150, consider cost of eating in vs meals out and it will rationalize. Benefit: full kitchen and you can prepare your own meals. Spinneys (big grocery store) is easy 5 min walk. Overlook the sea or harbour. Pool for the kids. Free parking. I just got here last week and stayed for one week plus our assessment trip in late June.

Taxis are cheap. You can rent a car at the hotel. Suggest you avoid renting a car until you need one. The Marriott arranged one and there re plenty of rental locations to pick from in Dubai. Insurance is included and your max exposure is AEd 1500 if you wreck. No need to buy ins.


Housing-we live in the Springs, part of Emirates Hills. Lots of expats but the houses are 12-15 yrs old and in some cases really in need of work. Be wary of landlords. Most rentals come without appliances (no fridge, oven, washer, curtains) Negotiate a disturbance allowance as the power is all 220 and your US stuff wont work.

Schools-ASD is the top American curricullum. We couldn't get in as we applied in June for Sept Spots. DAA is excellent, also full. We are in a new school, GEMS Int'l Al Khail that follows an IB curriculum. Some US schools are on IB. Looks good so far (day 3).

Wadi Wali is a great water park in Dubai. its a full day and a lot of fun. Suggest Aquarium at the Mall of the Emirates and skiing (haven't tried it yet but hear its great). Haven't been to Ferrari world or done a desert excursion yet.

Lastly, suggest you come in advance of your family as you cant do much without residency. Visa process and Emirates ID is about a two week process with a PRO consultant. Your HR people will know what this is if you are unsure.


Good luck. Drop me a message if you need anything. I'm on Day 12 and in the middle of it!
 

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It's great to have the opportunity to see Dubai before committing to a job. I like your company.

But always keep in mind that a few days recce isn't the same as actually living here. I think to get the best sense of day to day life in Dubai is to spend at least one day doing 'normal' things. Go to the supermarkets (spinneys, Carrefour etc). Look around the residential areas. DRIVE the roads insofar as possible. Make appointments to visit a couple schools.

I do suggest that you keep your options open as much as possible. There's no 'expat compounds' in Dubai, unlike in Saudi Arabia. Compounds here refer to a cluster of attached villas usually with a shared pool. We do have large master planned residential communities that are technically 'gated' and manned by a few Keystone Kops but that's for show rather than security reasons. But there's more to Dubai than these new communities as some of the best areas to live from a convenience and amenities perspective are Jumeira and Umm Suqiem, right by the beaches. Mirdiff is another popular option that's cheaper due to being on the wrong side of town. These areas give you more of a proper expat experience than the new suburbs which are more or less living the American suburban lifestyle, ME style.

Also consider apartment living in the Marina or Downtown. 150,000 doesn't go far in Dubai, unfortunately, and you may get more for your money by living in an apartment near the amenities and the beaches rather than a cramped villa miles out in the desert.
 

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This is a great thread. I'm looking to do something similar (only things now shifted to Bahrain instead of Dubai). I also have just 1 full free day. I'm not sure where to start.

The idea of making it a normal day is a good one, but I also want to try to understand the different areas to live, shop, play, etc. Schools are a concern too. I'm confused on how to do all of this though.

I'm not sure I can really understand anything by just driving (or riding) through a place once. And not knowing much means I won't even understand where I really am checking or if I am missing things.

Any recommendations on how to be more effective?
 

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First thing you should do is desk research, lots of desk research. Be prepared when you go there. Try dubizzle, maybe Bahrain has its own websites. You have a budget for housing I assume, you know what you want ( i.e. a house with a garden close to a school), then focus when you are there. Don't feel forced to find a house or a school in a day or even a week cause you will fail and give yourself a heart attack. I spent three months preparing the move, especially finding a school was hard as all are full now.
 

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First thing you should do is desk research, lots of desk research. Be prepared when you go there. Try dubizzle, maybe Bahrain has its own websites. You have a budget for housing I assume, you know what you want ( i.e. a house with a garden close to a school), then focus when you are there. Don't feel forced to find a house or a school in a day or even a week cause you will fail and give yourself a heart attack. I spent three months preparing the move, especially finding a school was hard as all are full now.
Unfortunately I haven't found a Bahrain forum as active and helpful as this one. I have found one that is helpful, just not like this one.

I have no intention of finding a place in one day. I am using it as a "preview" day to make sure we are ok with a move to Bahrain (never been there). I just want to understand what life is like and what the options are. Unfortunately I haven't found too much about schools and even less about nursery schools, which are of immediate concern (we have a 3-year old).

I agree desktop research is absolutely required, but I still fear that I will miss out a lot there. Not knowing the ins and outs of an area means you could easily misunderstand it (good or bad). Not sure how to minimize the chances of this.
 

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Try linkedin, it may be a good thing to join expat discussions. Most employers will be able to help out as well. Nurseries should be easy to find I assume, enough expats in Bahrain these days.
 

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Hi Abbzia, 4 days? jet lag will be fun for you all then. I have arrived in Dubai with my partner working for three weeks. I am in the middle of week 2 now. We stayed at the marina (Le Meridien) and eating out costs fortunes! after a visit to Abu Dhabi (over an hour in a taxi) where Ferrari world is we returned to Dubai and are now staying in Bur Dubai. We have an apartment hotel here and it seems a cheaper part of town but we find it pretty nice at less than $150 per night. Make sure you have wifi wherever you stay as you will be doing lots of searching on google. We too are doing a recce to see if we want to move out here. It is overwhelming with the sights and the heat, but as posted earlier, come out before your family and set up the basics as you wil have more time and less stress without the family here-all of you jet lagged 8 hours in front!

Hope you have a good trip and enjoy some fun stuff. I think you will pull a miracle to get a real feel in 4 days- even if you were on your own. I would worry about house hunting after you arrive with basics- as you will meet a million people who can best advise you when you start work- just my opinion. Good Luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Assessment Trip - Dubai

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Thank you very much for the great feedback. You guys are awesome. Coming from Chicago, with two kids aged 3 and 5, I purchased Etihad Airways landing in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, less than two weeks from now as it is a direct flight. I will be there four days. I have rented a car before in the Emirates. So I am comfortable about that and will drive to Dubai, which is where I will reserve my hotel. However, is Europcar or Budget/Dollar rentals good to go with? I will be renting a full sized SUV.


For the hotels, I can increase my per night budget to $200. I do not want to spend more as this is a smaller company ($600 Million) and this is the first time they are relocating someone and the decision would be based on my wife. Based on your feedback, the marina area for hotels sounds good. I will see if I can find a hotel in that range on tripadvisor. Definitely a pool at the hotel would be better.


For my 4 days - Wild Wadi is a must and I will go there based on your feedback. That takes care of 1 day. I will set aside another day for something.
Two days - I will do some research by visiting a few houses and schools and some other stuff like living the normal day, if i can.

I believe I will get visitor visa at the airport being a US citizen. Also, can i get a cell phone plan for 4 days or a SIM card? Any tips on this?

If I can email you or PM you to ask a few more questions, please let me know. I would very much appreciate your help as i am only 11 days away from my trip and very nervous.

Again thank you very much for your help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Assessment Trip - Hotel

I was looking at the hotels and Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai looks great. Can anyone offer any feedback as far as traffic, location, etc? Seems to be a like a great fit. It has great pools. Any information on this would be appreciated.
Thank you!
 
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