When your employer provides housing, salary and insurance it makes it much easier to live well. However, even with these things covered, there are still costs associated with living (anywhere). Many things are subsidized by the government here in the UAE. Gasoline, for example, is subsidized and very inexpensive (my Yaris costs less than $30 US to fill).
Groceries are very expensive. Much of what is sold here is imported and even some of the local stuff is expensive as well. I have been able to do an okay job of maintaining my special diet, but in the US it is expensive and here it is worse. Luckily, most of the other things I do are not that expensive. So everything seems to balance out.
Last Sunday I transfered the water and electricity into my name. It was a relatively painless process, once I got everything figured out. First I had to get a letter from my employer, which one of my friends got and copied for me (yeah!). Then I had to get my meter numbers and call the company for a meter reading and wait for them to send me a text of the reading. Once I got the text then I had to take everything to the company so they could process the transfer.
When I arrived at the company everything went smoothly. In fact, they didn’t even ask to see the text of the meter reading. The poor guy who was processing my transfer spent a lot of time doing it. I’ve experienced this here other times, where the employee has to spend a lot of time clicking through computer screens. It took about forty minutes total. In the end I paid a deposit of about $270 US and my bill for the first two months. The bill for both water and electric was $70 US. Here’s hoping these utilities stay this low.
On Tuesday I was feeling quite sick and decided to take the day off of work to rest. Back home, I would have just called in for a sub and spent the rest of the day relaxing in bed. Here, however, you have to get a sick note from a doctor in order to get paid for a sick day. So, hoping to beat any crowds and allowing myself ample time to rest, I set off as early as I could to the hospital. Since I didn’t have an appointment I had to go to the emergency room.
The doctor saw me, agreed that I was sick and wrote me a note for that one day. I was out of the hospital, note in hand, within one hour. I then drove to the Ministry of Health to get an official stamp on the sick note. When I arrived at the Ministry, the clerk explained that since the note was done on-line it was already approved by the Ministry and I didn’t need an additional stamp. The doctor’s appointment and the medicine cost less than $10 US and the whole thing took about two hours total (including the unnecessary trip to the Ministry). The final step was uploading the sick note into the ADEC computer system to have it approved. And of course spend the rest of the day on the couch.
Not everything is business though. Yesterday, along with three friends, I headed to the top of Jebel Hafeet for lunch and lounging at the Mercure Hotel. For 100 AED ($27 US) each, we got access to the pool area and a 50 AED voucher for food and drinks. We had a nice relaxing lunch and a nice lounge by the pool, complete with music from a poolside DJ. It was a great way to spend the day, and celebrate three months of living in the UAE.