Dubai enjoys a relatively crime-free reputation. And it seems to be getting safer still: in 2008, the incidence of serious crime was 255.53 per 100,000 residents, which dropped to 83.7 in 2011. Even so, it’s always worth making sure your home is as secure as possible before leaving to go on holiday. And it’s not all about protecting yourself from crime. Forgetting to switch off lights can result in a nasty surprise when it comes to paying your DEWA bill, while neglecting to inform the gardener that you’re going away can mean you return home to a desert come the end of summer.
Have Dubai Police watch your house
Whether you’re disappearing on holiday for a while, or have to leave town for another reason, Dubai Police can keep an eye on your property for you until you get back. Under the home security programme, you can apply to have your villa monitored while you’re away – and it’s completely free. All you need to do is register at your nearest police station, or fill out an online application form. Once you’ve provided your travel dates, contact details and home address, you should receive a text message acknowledging your application. After that, expect a call from the police to find the exact location of your home. The police also advise that you place all jewellery and valuables normally kept at home in a safe deposit box in your bank before going away.
Dubai Police security housing programme, various locations, www.dubaipolice.gov.ae (050 880 6010).
Water and electricity
Whether or not to turn your air-conditioning off is often debated, but keeping your thermostat around 25°C allows it to come on a little every day, and is a good way to protect any electronics you may have left behind that could get damaged if left to heat up. Keeping humidity low also helps protect your furniture. Switch off all electrical appliances at the mains. Leaving things like TVs and DVD players on standby still uses around 60 per cent as much electricity. As a courtesy to your neighbours, you may also want to switch off anything that has an alarm timer set. The same should be said for water – make sure all taps are turned tightly off, and if you think you may have a leak, call in a plumber before you go. A small drip over a few weeks could lead to a hefty DEWA bill upon your return, and you don’t want that adding to your post-holiday blues. If you’re uncertain about a leak or whether your A/C is working properly, get a professional in to make sure everything is in order.
From Dhs250 for A/C servicing and plumping. Electrical fault repair also available. Toolman Maintenance Services, various locations (800 3312).
Give the gardeners keys to your back gate so they can still get in to maintain your carefully-cultivated flora. If you’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into creating your own little oasis, the last thing you want is to come back to something that better resembles a desert. The same goes for watering indoor and balcony plants, and a good maid service will often take care of this for you – it’s also a good idea to have someone dusting if you’re away for more than a month.
Gardening from Dhs350 per month. Dream Flowers, various locations (050 886 0931/050 738 0328). Maid service from Dhs30 per hour. King Style Services, (04 368 6556 / 050 855 6417).
It may seem obvious, but pets being left to fend for themselves is not unheard of. Have a pet service to drop in and do the feeding, walking and litter changing. Some, such as Dubai Pet Sitting, will even care for your plants (indoor and out), start your car regularly, pay maids, gardeners or cleaners and generally keep an eye on your home. Alternatively have a kennel or cattery put your pets up.
Price upon request. Dubai Pet Sitting, various locations (050 565 1742). Kennels from Dhs60-100 (small pets such as hamsters accepted). Dubai Kennels and Cattery, Street 34, Umm Ramool (04 285 1646).
• Draw the blinds and curtains to keep out as much heat as is possible.
• Take down any parasols. Even a mild shamal could result in damage to your property.
• Bin perishable foods in the fridge or cupboards – except bread and leftover crisps, which will be eaten by birds in no time if sprinkled over the lawn, balcony or window sill.