I have to begin by saying 2 things: firstly, I was planning to write this sooner, hoping it would be a bit of help to the people moving to the UAE for the new school year. Sorry if I’m a bit too late, guys! Secondly, this is my very personal opinion, and I’m sorry if this list takes too-girly a turn.
1. Electronics and small appliances that don’t have dual voltage (speaking to Americans here, mostly). First of all, they may not work here even with the converter (Shon’s razor worked, his clippers didn’t), and even if they do work, there’s a good chance they’ll just blow out one day (RIP, my lovely hair-straightener!)
If dual voltage is not a problem, consider weight/price. Will it be cheaper to buy said appliance here or pay for an extra/overweight bag?
If you are curious, we brought our laptops & camera. We bought everything else here (most of it used).
The only exception to this list is a router. Do consider bringing a VPN-compatible router.
2. Books. They are so freaking heavy. Consider investing into e-books or purchasing books online from bookdepository.com They ship worldwide for free.
3. Crafting tools unless you are bringing the supplies as well. For whatever reason, “making things” is not a favorite pastime here. You may have some luck with yarn and embroidery floss for a reasonable price, but expect to pay a pretty penny for the scrapbooking/card-making supplies, and not be able to find any jewelry-making stuff at all.
1. Your favorite outfit even if doesn’t fit the “clothes acceptable in the UAE” category. There will be all sorts of expat get-togethers plus you can always wear it to a hotel restaurant or just on a trip to Dubai.
2. Non-drugstore cosmetics. Clinique and MAC stuff is available, but costs 2-3 times more, ladies. I have a sneaking suspicion this is true for other brands, as well.
3. A bottle of your favorite hair product, if you have difficult hair. Chances are, it will take you a bit of time to find a replacement here (Americans, try Boots pharmacies). Personally, I still bring my favorite hairspray.
4. Clinical strength deodorant. No, you cannot get it here.
5. US ladies, if you are into Victoria’s Secret underwear, bring some along. Two words: unnecessarily expensive.
6. A small/lightweight/flat piece of your current house decor. It’s really nice to have something from home. We brought 2 plywood people with the maps of our hometowns on them, and we haven’t regretted it.
7. A VPN-compatible router.
8. A traveler’s credit card. We are quite fond of Capital One’s Venture. Most likely, you will not get paid until the end of September, so keep this in mind.
9. If you know you are planning to travel internationally during your time in the UAE, think about bringing some winter clothes. We knew we were going to Russia for Christmas, so we brought our jackets, boots, and a couple of sweaters thus saving a fortune.
A lot of people bring food. I have heard of suitcases packed full of grits (no kidding). While I do notoriously miss my Cheez-Its now and then, I have surely found new favorites (plus, most of the stuff you can’t get is not the best thing for you, anyway, and the healthy stuff can be easily purchased at iherb.com – they ship to the door).
This said, you can find nearly everything here. You will see brands you recognize, and brands you don’t (some of them are just a different name for something familiar). Don’t be afraid of trying new stuff! It’s part of the fun.
Also, if you are curious about baby-related stuff I bring from the States, let me know.
Expat friends, what would you add?