How expats can have a healthy diet in Dubai

Dubai spicesDubai’s flourishing international status as an expat – not to mention tourist – hotspot means that healthy eating is on the rise, with vegetarian restaurants, vegan cafés, organic food stores and healthy food delivery services operating across the city. If you are thinking of moving to Dubai, here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Popular types of food and drink

Dubai’s exciting multicultural food scene reflects the fact that the majority of the country’s population is made up of expats from India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, the UK, the US, China, Canada and more. Emirati cuisine typically consists of staples such as dates, fish, camel, “al jabab” (a type of flatbread), and rice-based dishes like “maqluba” and “shuwaa” – which offer plenty of protein, fiber and carbohydrates. However, expats might want to accompany these with fresh vegetables, salad and fruit for a more balanced diet. Fruit and veg markets, organic food stores and large supermarkets stock both regionally grown and international produce.

A classic Emirati dish that expats can try is “ryoog yerana”, which is a date omelet served with bread and “haleed kastar” (a drink made with custard and red seeds). Another delicacy is camel stuffed with eggs and spices, as well as chicken, fish or lamb.

Coffee is integral to Arab culture, and camel milk cappuccinos are popular with locals, but healthier drinks include “jellab” (made from grape molasses, rose water, pine nuts and raisins) and “tamar hindi” (which is tamarind, water, sugar and lemon). Arabic coffee is served in strong, short measures and often accompanied by sweet dates.

Arab eating customs and habits

In Dubai, as in the whole of the UAE, eating is a social event. The culture is founded on principles of hospitality and charity. As such, meals are generally long, and are fairly formal in nature. Expats may like to take their lead from locals in terms of appropriate dinner dress, which could mean choosing to adopt traditional Emirati dress or more formal Western attire. While some food is eaten using a knife and fork, some is eaten with the right hand (the left hand is never used, as it is considered unclean, and is often not even placed on the table). Expats may like to keep their feet on the floor while dining, rather than crossing their legs, as showing the soles of your feet or shoes is highly offensive in Islamic cultures.

Food and drink events and festivals

The Dubai Food Festival is an annual destination event for a lot of culinary enthusiasts, with celebrity chefs and events showcasing the best that Dubai has to offer, and celebrating the city’s gastronomic growth. Expats can try both authentic Emirati cuisine and international dishes. This can also be a good opportunity for expats to explore the local culinary scene and discover healthy new dishes.

Arab cooking styles and ingredients

Traditional Emirati cuisine consists of a lot of stews served with rice. The meat and vegetables are usually cooked in a pot (with spices like saffron, turmeric, cardamom and thyme used to flavor the food). Expats may find the food to have an underlying sweetness and fragrant aroma that they are not used to in Western food. Dessert usually consists of food that has been deep-fried and glazed with honey or syrup, and some western palates can find this overly sweet or perhaps a little greasier than western styles of dessert.

Practical considerations

In terms of the cost of eating, Dubai is a city of two halves. Expats can dine at lavish Arab restaurants serving up expensive dishes like pink diamond oysters, or try out hidden street food vendors selling low-cost food such as Pakistani staples and Szechwan specialties.

Another practical consideration is that most Arabs are Muslim, so they do not drink alcohol: as such, expats should refrain from drinking or being intoxicated in public (as part of a healthy diet, alcohol can be consumed in moderation). Also, during Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours, so it is impolite to eat or drink in front of them during these times.

Common issues expats face with food and drink in Dubai

Dubai’s economic development and international status mean that hygiene standards are generally high, so food poisoning is not usually an issue. However, a lot of expats can suffer digestive problems when they first move to Dubai, due to the change in diet.

The large population of English-speaking expats in the city means that you should not have any problem understanding the names and nutritional value of foods or ingredients, as most wrappers and menus are written in both Arabic and English.

Food and drink for expats with health conditions

A lot of dishes and drinks are served with nuts and seeds in Dubai, often without these being listed on the menu, so expats with allergies may want to make sure they take medication with them before entering the country.

Expats with asthma who are moving to Dubai, need to be aware that their condition may be exacerbated by a new diet. Reducing their intake of red meat and dairy products may help alleviate their symptoms. Expats with asthma may also like to have international health insurance in place, and carry the necessary medication, so that they can receive timely medical care. It’s also worth noting that Dubai’s dust storms can whip up sand and other fine particles into the air which may of course affect people with asthma.


Dubai is becoming an international gastronomic hotspot, with dishes from all around the world influencing its cuisine, so expats should be able to stay healthy and enjoy a balanced diet. There are a few customs and traditions to learn before visiting, although the large number of expats living in Dubai means that many native residents will likely make small allowances for newcomers. The country’s status as a global destination offers expats a lot of choice when it comes to cuisine, so there is usually plenty of choice for travelers with special dietary needs or specific tastes.


This article has been written by a guest-blogger. If you are interested in writing on our blog just leave a message at or use this contact sheet:

If you are ever in need of a healthcare provider in Dubai you can always use our global healthcare provider search platform HERE… 

5 Healthcare Tips for Expats

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  1. Wherever you go, your med records should follow

One of the biggest challenges expats face is finding and maintaining high quality medical care. While Medihoo can help you find the right care it’s always a good idea to maintain an up-to-date copy of your medical records so new care providers have easy access to your medical history.  Your medical records should contain basic info like name, date of birth, insurance numbers and the names and locations of your general practitioners. Ask your doctor for your full medical history. It is possible he will charge you to produce these records and it will take time. So ask well in advance, preferably in writing.

  1. Check before the emergency

The problem with finding good health care is that it always needs to happen when there’s a problem or emergency. To avoid stressful situations, it is best to know beforehand where the best medical professionals in the city you are relocating to can be found. The local embassy can help, but in a pinch can help you find good healthcare.

  1. Research local illnesses, diseases and health warnings.

Leishmaniasis? What? There are many obscure diseases in the world and while you shouldn’t visit webmd too much for fear of becoming a total hypochondriac, it is a good idea to do some research on the most prevalent health issues in the country you are relocating to. The US Center for Disease Control and Australia’s Smarttraveler site are good jumping off points for destination-specific information for people working and living overseas.

  1. Where are the band-aids?

Every home should have a well stocked First Aid kit. You can buy these anywhere, but we consider the family deluxe kit from Red Cross America to be the gold standard. Find the contents here. Make sure your first aid kit is up-to-date and that everyone in your household knows where it is and preferably how to use it.

  1. Take care of yourself

It’s cliché. But eating healthy and getting lots of exercise goes a long way. Combine that with an annual check-up and you should be good to go. When living abroad you should keep track of your health: make note of changes, schedule annual check-ups for you and your family well in advance and make sure you know where to go when problems arise. is a totally free service to connect you with good health-care providers. Visit us and help us share good care!

Australia the land of Growth

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Each year, when the statistics about livability are published, Australia always finds its way in amongst some of the best countries to live in and travel to.  However claiming that it has some of the best cities in the world doesn’t say much when we neglect to talk about what our industry growth is like and what sectors will be the best/safest to find work in.

It’s all well and good to move or travel to Australia because a blog post told you to (see also blog page), but realistically you need to do a little bit more research before you decide to take the plunge.

Read more about it HERE

Source: expatvisa

Preparing for an Expat Relocation? Don’t panic, with the right support it can be easy!

Young couple resting from moving into a new home

There are many things that need to be done in preparation for any expat relocation. No matter where you are relocating to, and no matter how long, it will undoubtedly be an exciting time tinged with some trepidation and perhaps not a little fear. This article highlights the preparations you need to make before you leave, both in practical terms, but also how you can prepare yourself in other ways for the big move.

Learning about your new home

The details of your move have been confirmed, but where do you start in getting yourself prepared, both in practical terms but also with regards to gaining some insight and understanding of the community and society in which you are about to immerse yourself?

At least a cursory understanding of the history of the city and country you’re moving to is a must, especially if you’re coming from a western country that has experienced relative stability since the end of WWII. So many other countries in the intervening years have gone through tremendous political upheavals in that time—even somewhere as seemingly calm and stable as Singapore, for instance—that in many cases it’s impossible even to begin to get to know people without an understanding of the forces that have shaped their society. To this end, I would always encourage reading widely, both fiction and non-fiction, subscribing to some blogs by writers living in your destination city, and watching films that are set in the city to which you are about to move or are made by filmmakers who hail from there.

Language of course is always a confronting issue for expats. As someone who has experienced at first-hand the difficulties of trying to engage in and fully experience a culture without speaking the language, I can’t recommend highly enough the importance of at least getting to grips with some basics before you leave. No-one, least of all yourself, would or should expect you to know more than a few basic phrases before you arrive, but getting hold of a phrasebook is a positive start. And do some research online about the language courses and learning opportunities that will be available once you arrive. You will surprised to find that in big cities like Beijing or Shanghai, for instance, just how many courses there are, or community groups that you can join that will enable you to learn, practise and use your new language.

Practical Preparations

In practical terms, during this period there will be many, many things to organise. These will be things at home, as well as in your destination city.

There will be visa and work permits to sort out, of course. But there are any number of other things to consider. You may need to get some vaccinations, and if so the timetable of these needs to be planned in advance. Will you be taking pets with you? If so, you will need to acquaint yourself with the sometimes quite complex procedures involved in taking them abroad.

Couple looking at their new house.

Couple looking at their new house.

For most soon-to-be expats, however, housing and education are the areas that cause the most stress. In terms of the the former, I would always recommend doing some specific research geared towards exploring the different neighbourhoods in your destination city in order to find the one with the best amenities to suit your needs. All cities, no matter where they are in the world, have districts with very distinct characteristics. Some neighbourhoods will have a more suburban feel, ideal for family life, while others may be more suited to the inner-city lifestyle. Getting to know the expat neighbourhoods in advance is also an ideal way to give yourself some peace of mind, learn about the city, and to prepare yourself for what to expect when you finally move.

If you are relocating with school age children, a seamless continuation of their education will no doubt be a priority. You will want to look at all of the options available, and fortunately there are plenty of good sources of information in this regard. Choosing the right school can be a time-consuming procedure, not to mention a bit daunting, but with some diligent research you can feel confident about narrowing the choices down to a handful of possible options. Joining expat forums is also a very effective way of learning more about schools, as you can often get the inside story in a way that you might not from more official sources.

Most importantly—don’t panic!

Assuming that you have sufficient time to prepare for your relocation, and make some efforts to be organised and have a timetable in place, you will find that there are enough resources out there to answer the many questions that you no doubt have. Don’t forget, many others have experienced this too and most expats are more than happy to share their experiences with others. Take advantage of this, learn from others, and never be afraid to ask questions.


Mark Angus is the Online Editor at Expat Essentials. Expat Essentials publish online relocation guides for expat families moving to Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Expat Essentials guides are designed to provide comprehensive information on international schools and the education systems in these cities, to help expats to learn more about neighbourhoods and the housing options that are available. In addition, you can find medical and healthcare providers, many of whom you will also find listed here on Medihoo.

International removals – Doree Bonner International

Doree Bonner

Their claim:

Doree Bonner International specialise in international removal. Our network of reputable and professional international removals agents have been handpicked so you can be sure you will receive the same level of service when moving overseas as you’d expect in the UK.  Experienced in overseas removals we can help you relocate to any destination in any country, whether you are moving to Australia or shipping to Canada , moving to the USA, South Africa , New Zealand or Cyprus. We are one of the world’s most trusted international moving companies.

Their Contact Details:

Telephone: (+44) 0800 021 42 90

Contact Sheet: click here

Local plus: an alternative to traditional expatriate packages

Instead of attracting employees for international assignments with an expatriate package, more and more companies are opting for a so called “Local Plus” package i.e. compensation package comparable to local employees + additional benefits such as housing, transportation, education (e.g. internal schools) and health benefits.

This infographic based on Mercer’s Alternative International Assignments Policies and Practices Survey report tells you all about it.

Source: Mercer

Expat explorer survey 2014: Expats at a glace



Interesting infographic which is the result of an online survey with 9.288 expats from 100 countries showing that:

47% have been expat on multiple occasions

38% move abroad to improve job prospects

Switzerland is ranks as overall top location

Read more about it by clicking the image

Source: HSBC

Expat life: not always a smooth ride…

Often Expat life is viewed as a holiday like experience by others. However Expat life is not always a smooth ride. There are many problems an expatriate family can run into.

This Infographic gives an overview of some of these problem-areas. We post it not with the intention to discourage you but rather to inform. Reading it might help you to gain some inside and in some cases it might help to avoid problems.

Expat Life: Not Always A Smooth Ride!

Source: Ute’s Expat Lounge