A Canadian in the City of Dubai – Spot the Difference!


There are places in the world that seem an awful long way from home and others that are somewhat familiar. It’s not always about distance; sometimes similarities in the culture, climate and people can make you feel right at home. So how does the UAE’s desert city of Dubai measure up to Canada? From Dubai hotels to restaurants and architecture, read on for the major similarities and differences between the wilds of Canada and the desert sands of Dubai.

A multi-cultural society

Canadian city life is defined by its multi-cultural nature these days, and this is one of the ways in which Dubai is similar. Around 85% of the population are expats, hailing from Asia, India, Pakistan, Europe and the Americas.

You’ll therefore fit right in in this multicultural metropolis and hear a variety of languages around you. English is widely spoken and understood.

Museums versus malls

Whilst the big cities of Canada are renowned for their museums, Dubai is better known for its mega malls. There are around seventy malls in the city and more are currently under construction. The Dubai mall is one of the largest in the world. The city also hosts the world’s largest shopping festival in spring, which is attended by millions of international visitors.

International flavours

When it comes to restaurants, Dubai’s cuisine culture is similar in many ways to Canada’s big cities. You can find pretty much any type of international cuisine in the emirate, from Italian to Indian. Trendy new restaurants and dining experiences are popping up in the city all the time. You many even find that the range of culinary experiences on offer rival the choices in Ottawa and Vancouver.

Climate and landscape

One of the biggest differences you’ll experience as a Canadian in Dubai is the climate and landscape. Dubai is a desert city, and the landscape reflects this. Instead of the ski and snowboarding culture around Vancouver, here you can go camel trekking, sand-boarding or exploring the desert in a 4X4.


You’ll find many similarities in the glittering skyscrapers that make up the modern metropolis of Dubai. Just like some of the big Canadian cities, contemporary architecture dominates the skyline.

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, is one of the most striking examples. Delve a little deeper, however, and you’ll find the unique architectural heritage of a bygone era. Head to the Bastakiya Quarter for maze- like streets and traditional Middle Eastern architecture that you certainly won’t find anywhere in Canada.

For a Canadian in Dubai, there are certainly similarities when it comes to everyday life. Dubai does, however, have a culture and appeal all of its own, so for those seeking a modern oasis in the desert where opulence and luxury prevail, this Emirate could be the perfect destination.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

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