German expats in Dubai

With a 10,000 strong community Germans are one of the biggest expat groups in Dubai. <em>Time Out</em> talks to German expats about life in Dubai

Expat focus, Area Guides
Johannes Roos, 32

Dubai’s business industry is booming so much, it’s just incredible – especially in the oil and gas industry. Combine this with its fascinating local culture and multicultural mix of people and my life here feels so exciting. I especially appreciate the entertainment here. Whether it’s clubbing at a great place, such as Zinc at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, or doing different sports, this place always keeps my spirits up.

I came to Dubai this year on July 1 – right in the middle of summer. I work as a sales executive for a German company, Thyssen Krupp Mannex, in the steel-processing industry. Back in Germany, I used to play hockey at a very high level. There are actually some hockey tryouts and pick-up games here next week, which I’ll definitely attend. Hopefully they’ll lead to more games.

There are things I don’t enjoy here. Most people here just can’t drive a car properly; there are always fatal accidents, which is horrible. Furthermore, there are a lot of unqualified people here, in different areas of life, which can be really time-consuming. Also, I never ask someone about directions anymore, as everyone seems to have a different version of how to get to a place, instead of admitting they just don’t know how to get there. I’m starting to miss the four seasons we have in Germany; the summer here is just brutal. Nevertheless, I went golfing the other day. I’m just a complete sports-addict!

The restaurants here are amazing, although I still miss the good old traditional Alt beer from my hometown, Düsseldorf. Hofbräuhaus restaurant at the JW Marriott seems to pretend to be a German restaurant, but it’s actually Bavarian, which always had its own unique and almost separate culture within Germany.

I’m definitely not homesick, the city is way too dynamic to get depressed. But true friendship is still hard to find here. Everything in Dubai is geared towards a business contract, designed for a specific period of time. My contract lasts until 2010. After that I’m planning to go back to Germany.

Ingo Bolle, 36

Before moving over here, I used to work in Saudi Arabia, also as a landscape architect. But Dubai provides the luxury of higher pay cheques and a tax-free life, which is even better compared to the high taxes in Germany. People here also seem to be much more hospitable and open-hearted than back in my home country. It’s so inspiring to sit in a business meeting and find myself surrounded by eight different nationalities.

I get along very well with my Arabic colleagues. I have discovered, while reading the Koran in my free time, that the Christian and Muslim religions are not as far apart as I previously thought.

On the downside, freedom of opinion is not really appreciated here. Censorship unfortunately plays too significant a role in Dubai. I think that the water consumption and environmental damage caused here should be things that people worry about more than they already do. I know how excited everyone is about the fast-growing development of this city, but I’m critical of the corruption here.

In terms of leisure, I always recommend 360. I always take my girlfriend and friends there, who are 80 per cent German. I really just go to German bars such as Der Keller when I’m homesick – and that doesn’t happen often. Still, I miss my family back in Germany and usually return there every three to six months.

Bettina Klein, 24

The art and culture scene in Dubai is so much bigger than people think. I manage a gallery in Al Quoz called Total Arts at the Courtyard. I arrived in Dubai last October and have worked there since. It’s a great opportunity to be part of Art Dubai, a huge, exciting event that’s still developing. That’s exactly what I love about Dubai: everything here inspires you to be creative, dynamic and do your share of work in order to realise the city’s ambitious long-term visions. I’ve met so many young people here. It’s not difficult at all to find friends from different cultural backgrounds. We love going out clubbing and hanging out at Barasti, playing beach volleyball or relaxing in one of the cafés at the beautiful One & Only Royal Mirage hotel.

That’s not to say it’s all wonderful. I really don’t like Dubai’s artificiality. And it’s not a very pedestrian-friendly city.

Would I want to live here forever? I don’t know what the future has in store, but at the moment I’m really happy: I love my job and spending quality time with my friends in one of the most exciting cities in the world.


Hofbrauhaus, JW Marriott Hotel (04 607 7977). Open 12.30pm-11.30pm daily

Der Keller, Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 348 0000). Open 6pm-1am daily

Germany factfile

For a thousand years the lands that now make up Germany were a group of principalities. While various leaders had attempted to bring them together, it wasn’t until the Duke of Lauenberg and Prime Minister of Prussia, Otto Von Bismarck, came along that someone managed the feat. After unification in 1871, Germany quickly established a reputation for industrial and scientific excellence and was even developing an empire. When the Kaiser (the German emperor) decided to back his Austro-Hungarian neighbours in an international dispute, the country was thrown into World War I, which it eventually lost.

But while defeat brought an end to the Kaiser, peace was short-lived. By the 1930s a new political party, the National Socialists, had emerged, keen to avenge the humiliation of the last war. World War II ensued and the Germans were again on the losing side. This time Germany was split in two, with the East under Soviet influence and the West under American, French and British influence. For more than 40 years the nations were separated until a largely peaceful revolution in East Germany in 1989 led to eventual unification in 1990. Germany remains one of the world’s and EU’s most powerful economies.

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