I moved to Dubai from Brisbane almost 7 months ago and the move has come with no shortage of changes, some of which were pleasant surprises.
One thing I didn’t think would change much would be my Internet habits. I knew Dubai had some great infrastructure for Internet access and that I would be able to get the same speeds I enjoyed in Australia (or better) but what I didn’t count on was that being here would alter how I used the Internet and consumed digital content.
Here’s how Dubai changed my Internet habits:
Mobile vs PC
My PC is actually a laptop so it’s technically mobile but I tend to use my laptop at work and hardly ever use it at home. I am on my phone A LOT. I’m always on twitter, always checking and responding to work email and chatting with family and friends via Whatsapp. I also rely on my mobile heavily for navigation! I’m on review websites all the time and also use my phone to order food because it’s so simple and easy to do. I should add that my wife and I have a no phones policy when eating (in or out) because we recognise that talking to people at the table is a dying art!
Google Maps and Waze
I use these tools daily because the roads keep changing in Dubai and I’m still finding my way here. One missed turn or a forced detour due to construction and my whole world comes crashing down so these tools have been invaluable to life here. I didn’t use Waze in Australia and had somewhat limited usage of Google Maps. I like features within Waze that allow you to report accidents, traffic jams and even speed cameras – and the gamification of it all makes you continue to use the app for this purpose. I know this has helped me avoid traffic jams which if you live in Dubai, are the biggest time suck ever. I was once a mere 3 minutes from work but was stuck in the mother of jams for an hour and a half because I didn’t check Waze before hand! I also like to star places I visit purely because a lot of roads don’t have names! Sometimes Google Maps gets it wrong, like asking me to turn into traffic but thankfully we’ve averted danger. The day Google Street View comes to Dubai, I will be one of the happiest people here!
I’m on Twitter more often and for a lot longer these days. I use Twitter during work hours on my laptop but in Brisbane, I would rarely use it on my phone when out and about (or lounging around). Over here, I’m on twitter all the time and I occasionally find great uses of twitter via twitterfalls and so I have to break out the iPhone and get in on the hashtag action. Being 6 hours behind Australia means I’m more in tune with UK and European tweets so I get to engage on a whole new level on twitter with the movers and shakers of that region. I am also enjoying the interaction with local twitter folks who come from so many vast and varied backgrounds. It’s also interesting to see twitter usage in this region compared with Australia.
I used LinkedIn a lot in Australia but over here, I seem to be on it daily and people love to connect here (I was barely out of a meeting with a new client when I had received some connection requests!) so that’s awesome. I think what’s interesting is that Dubai is a tremendous meeting place for so many brilliant minds from around the world so that despite its size and relative standing when it comes to digital, this place has a lot going for it with great people using LinkedIn in Dubai. LinkedIn even opened an office here recently so that’s something. I get a lot of Indian SEO guys adding me (either locally or from India) so that’s getting a bit tedious because it’s merely just people on a job hunt or trying to sell me really cheap backlinks.
Food Delivery and Reviews
There’s so much in Dubai I’m yet to discover so there’s even more chance that my experiences may not be great so I rely on review apps and websites a whole lot more. I like Zomato as it’s designed well and easy to use – great for reviews and finding options for home delivery. I also find Yadig quite nice for reviews of places/attractions. In Australia we have a lot of review websites and I also spent almost 15 years there so I kinda know my way around and know which places to avoid. In Dubai, my experiences have been generally positive but there’s been a few nasty surprises thrown in for good measure.
Daily Deal websites
In Australia I was once one of the many crazed addicts to these websites and even had a filter and label specifically for them in Gmail. Then I got over it, unsubscribed and focused only on stuff I needed. When I moved to Dubai, I decided to get back into the daily deal scene and although there aren’t as many players, there’s a lot of decent deals and they’re not all about spas and restaurants either! I have found that I’m now getting bored and don’t seem to find as many deals attractive anymore. My inbox is piling up with emails so it looks like I might have to resort to simply unsubscribing and then only visiting these sites as and when I need anything.
I’m with EmiratesNBD and they seem ok but their online banking portal is a bit clunky. It gets the job done in its own weird way but it’s still rather unfriendly. I do like the fact that I can pretty much pay all bills from utilities to pay tv and internet to traffic fines, all from within the online portal. I mean literally directly from the system – you click on payments, choose the category and then choose which account you wish to pay (you could have a number of different accounts with service providers for example) and it even shows you what’s outstanding. You get an SMS notification within seconds once confirmed and email comes through soon after. I don’t even have to log into other websites.. it’s all done within a few clicks so I find that very convenient. I use the mobile app as well but that needs a bit of work too. Overall, the convenience is great!
These are some of the ways my Internet usage has changed since moving to Dubai. I’m basically on my mobile phone a lot more and using it for a lot more things than I was in Brisbane. In a region where Internet and mobile penetration are still infantile, this is amazing.