Hook me up

You forget how much there is to do when you move into a new place. Here's what you need to know

Electricity & water

Never mix electricity and water our electrocution-aware parents used to tell us. It is a message that escaped the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. To get connected, head to any DEWA office with your DEWA number (found on your front door frame for apartments or your gate if you’re in a villa), copies of your passport, tenancy agreement and a deposit of either Dhs1,000 for an apartment or Dhs2,000 for a villa (which is redeemable when you end your tenancy). Or you can register online at www.dewa.gov.ae, and send scanned copies of the relevant documents.

Bills are calculated by monthly meter readings. You can pay your bill in person at any DEWA office, at most petrol stations, or set up an online account.

The electricity supply in Dubai is 220/240V, and sockets are generally the three-pin British version. If you have an appliance with a two-pin plug, buy an adaptor from Carrefour or Ace Hardware. Water from taps is desalinated sea water. It’s safe to drink, but most people buy it bottled, as it is very cheap.

DEWA’s main office is next to Wafi City, Bur Dubai (04 324 4444). Open Sat-Thu 7.30am-8pm for bill payments and 7.30am-2.30pm for enquiries.

Air conditioning

If your pad is located in ‘new Dubai’ (the south end of Sheikh Zayed Road) you will need to pay a motor set-up fee of Dhs1,500 and a Dhs1,000 refundable deposit for a studio or one-bed apartment, Dhs2,000 for two bed or Dhs3,000 for a three bed, to keep your home cool in the sweltering summer months. You can do this at the Palm Coolings District offices in Al Moosa Tower Two, Sheikh Zayed Road.

If you are renting, the landlords will pay the set-up fee, but you will need to transfer the A/C into your name and pay the deposit. You will need your passport and the original sales and purchase agreement or tenancy contract.

If you are in ‘old Dubai’, your air conditioning costs will be tied in with your electricity bill.


There are no gas mains in Dubai, so you have to buy individual canisters if you have a gas cooker. Those orange trucks rattling round town like little weapons of mass destruction will deliver to your door and connect/re-fill a canister for you. A new can costs about Dhs300. A refill can cost a modest Dhs60-70. Delivery firms include: Oasis Gas Suppliers (04 396 1812), Salam Gas (04 344 8823) and Union Gas Company (04 272 7014).

Phone & internet

Until recently, Etisalat (www.etisalat.ae) had a monopoly, but 2006 saw the launch of rival company, du (www.du.ae). Both offer landline and internet deals. The Etisalat bundle costs range from Dhs164 to Dhs464 per month, depending on your choice of bandwidth (256k to 4MB), plus Dhs180 for connection (and additional costs for modem and sockets, if you don’t have them). You just need to pitch up at an Etisalat office with copies of your passport, residence visa and tenancy agreement. Prices at du are similar, but bandwidth goes to 12MB for Dhs749 per month. Both have sporadic special offers.


There are free TV channels in Dubai, but the quality is generally dire. One TV has recently raised the bar, with popular shows like Desperate Housewives and Prison Break, along with its own local news programme. You can also get MBC2 – showing back-to-back movies 24 hours a day. For comprehensive TV listings, get a copy of Time Out Dubai magazine.

For a better selection of channels, you’ll need satellite TV. There are a number of providers – Showtime and Orbit being the most popular – and which one you decide on will depend on what you like to watch. For example, English Premier League football is available exclusively on Showtime, while BBC Prime (which shows UK soap EastEnders) can only be part of an Orbit package. For more info, contact Orbit (04 405 9999, www.orbit.net) or Showtime (04 367 7888, www.showtimearabia.com).

Rubbish disposal & recycling

Dubai has a good rubbish disposal system, with Municipality trucks emptying skips regularly. If you have a villa, there will be skips on each street for you to empty your rubbish bin into (contact the Municipality on 04 206 4234 to request one), or if you have an apartment simply empty your refuse into the rubbish chute. Recycling is (very) slowly catching on. There are recycling points at various locations around the city, usually at schools and branches of Spinneys. You can also organise recyclable waste to be collected from your home; go to www.recycle-dubai.com.


There is currently no door-to-door postal delivery service in Dubai. All post is delivered to a PO Box address. For convenience, many expats simply give their work PO Box details for bills and correspondence. But it is possible to set up your own.

Cargo from abroad & storage

Air freight can be collected at Cargo Village, sea freight at Jebel Ali port. In both cases you need to be present, as your belongings will be checked by customs. Items such as books, DVDs or videos may be taken to the Department Of Information to check their content. Anything contradicting the UAE censorship laws – generally this covers pornography and material promoting other religions – will be destroyed.

Sea freight may take longer, but is cheaper, meaning you can transport more. The process for collecting your belongings can be time-consuming, but using an agency can help things along. When you receive notice your items have arrived, go to the agent’s office to pay the administration and handling charges. Documentation here needs to be taken to Dubai Customs House on Al Mina Road to be processed – more money needs to be handed over here. When port clearance is granted, you can go to the warehouse at Jebel Ali to collect it. Transportation of your goods can also be arranged from here.

Or, to save yourself the hassle, hand all the admin over to one of these firms before you leave your home country: Crown Relocations (04 289 5152) Global Relocation (04 352 3300) Interem (04 807 0584) The Specialists (04 331 2662) If your luggage and furntiture arrives before you have a home, you can arrange storage at one of these facilities: Sentinel Storage (04 340 6962) Storall LLC Storage Solutions (04 880 3644) U-Store (04 341 2323)


Dubai is full of casual removal firms or ‘man with a van’ set ups. Check classified listings in Gulf News or ask around. It may be worth photographing expensive items for a record of their condition, but these smaller outfits don’t tend to come with insurance. It is generally worth spending a bit extra and using well-known firms such as:
Allied Pickfords (04 408 9555) ;Gulf Agency Company (04 881 8090); ISS Worldwide Movers (04 303 8645); Southeast Cargo Packers (04 258 1815)

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