• Rohit Jayakaran

Desi A to Z Guide to Living in Dubai



April 17th, 2012.

This evening I was thinking about Dubai and what makes the city what it is. This place is home and I love it. As I kept thinking about how unique this city really is, I felt the urge to compile a beginner’s guide to Dubai. To make it easy to remember and follow I have worked it into the English Alphabet and have complied what I believe is the World’s Largest Desi’s A to Z Beginner’s Guide to Living in Dubai…As you can see, I have lived here long enough to be able to adopt the ‘World’s Largest’ lingo. Enjoy!!!

This guide is meant to be handed to Desi’s at the Airport as soon as they arrive so as to enable them to adjust to the city in a jiffy. So let's get started with the lingo and things you should know about Dubai.


A – ARBAB (He is the guy who gives you the visa. When he enters the room, stand, smile and look busy.)

B – BARKING

This is where you park your car. Don’t worry if you don’t have a driving license, in Dubai you will get one in NO TIME AT ALL…really…seriously)

C – CAFETERIA

(A place where you can place your order for anything deep-fried in Hindi, Urdu, English, Arabic and Malayalam.)

D – DISH TV

(This is how you watch desi TV and feel like you have never left the motherland. Occasionally you might need to hide the Dish, but that’s a small price to pay.)

E - EMIRATES ID CARD

(You will keep hearing that you need to get one.)

F – FALAFEL

(Be warned, it’s a veg item.)


G - GUSAIS

(Ref Q)

H – HABIBI

(This is usually the first word of a sentence in which someone is asking you for a favor)

I – INSHALLAH

(When you ask someone for a favor, this is usually their response)

J - JUMEIRAH -

(Comes up very often in different forms - 1, 2, 3, Palm, Beach, Hotel, Walk, Center, Plaza, Skin Clinic, Beauty Salon)

K – KHUBZ (Its naan available in a plastic bag)

L - LULU

(Hypermarket, Supermarket and Department Stores)

M – MABROOK

(Usually the only Arabic word Desi’s know…used mainly to congratulate people once they pass their driving test.)

N - NATIONAL PAINTS ROUNDABOUT

(It's where all the world’s traffic decides to congregate everyday for a few hours.)

O – OIL

(That’s what your friends back home think is in Dubai.)


P - PATHAN PARKING

(This is where you can park your car in Bur Dubai for AED 10 an hour. No matter who stealthy you are, you will never escape the 10 buck charge, the Pathan always finds you.)

Q - QUSAIS  (Ref G)

R - RETINA SCAN

(This is the reason you were late coming out of the airport and your relatives who were picking you up had to drive around the arrivals 4 times just to avoid paying AED 20 to park for 20 minutes.)

S – SALIK

(This is where you feel a sense of irony because you will often be stuck in traffic right below the Salik gate)

T – TAXI

(Taxi)

U – U-TURN

(The one signboard you will not find on Sheikh Zayed Road. You missed your exit…too bad…go home.)

V- VISIT VISA

(This is what you should get your mother-in-law because its valid for 60 days and then she has to leave the country for 30 days before re-entry. It’s a 2 is to 1 peace deal.)


W – WASTA

(That’s the one thing you don’t have and so everything is just gonna take time. Sorry.)

X – X-RAY

(For some reason only once you have got one done will your passport be stamped with the residence permit.)

Y – YALLA

(Usually the second word linguistically gifted Desi’s learn in Arabic)

Z – ZINKER

(Not to be confused with Zinger from KFC, this one is available in all multi-lingual Cafeterias.)

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© 2020-2021 Rohit Jayakaran. Dubai, UAE.