Every corner of the world has its own unique spin on parenting practices.
Varying societies handle pregnancy and parenthood differently, according to their specific social norms and guidelines as well as their society's history and timeless traditions.
In the western world, for example, potty training starts around age two of three, and it's acceptable for kids to take their sweet time figuring out their newfound bathroom obligations. In contrast, parents raising kids in eastern parts of the globe get on the potty training early, holding infants over the toilet while making a "shh" sound that babies eventually learn to associate with tinkling.
In this example alone, we have two completely different cultures taking on one aspect of parenting in totally different ways. The parents on the other side of the world also approach parenting uniquely. In major cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, moms and dads experience parenthood in ways that coincide with their culture. Whether it's bringing domestic help into the homes or paying an astronomical sum for their children's tuition, moms and dads in Dubai don't do things like the moms and dads here.
Here are 20 things that still confuse us about parenting in Dubai.
20 There Is A Lot Of Pressure On Moms To Be Perfect
Some mamas from Dubai feel an intense pressure be perfect all of the time. In the US, moms can have handfuls of children, and do everything that concerns the home and the family all by themselves. In Dubai, however, the pressure to be spot on all of the time leads mothers to take on help.
One mom explained that compared to life in the west, in Dubai, she was expected to have magnificent meals prepared each night, have the home forever kept in an immaculate state, and have the kids ready and presentable in the latest fashions at all times. She felt the need to look every part the supermodel, forget messy buns and yoga pants.
19 Alternative Lifestyles Might Not Be Tolerated
We here in the states embrace families of all shapes and sizes. People choosing to live an alternative lifestyle and have children are not just frowned upon in the UAE; they are doing something that this country considers completely illegal. That's right, families comprised of two moms or two dads, are breaking the law by merely loving someone who is not of the opposite gender. Being an alternate-lifestyle family can even result in jail time for loving couples who are only wanting to be families. Couples who choose to live this lifestyle out in the open will probably want to consider living in more liberal places. Dubai might not be an excellent choice for them.
18 There Are No Carseat Or Seatbelt Laws
Imagine not buckling your baby into a five-point harness before driving off to the local grocery store. Us moms in the states can't even fathom the concept of driving children around town unless they are first tightly secured into the backseat of our incredibly safe family vehicle.
In Dubai, however, there are no car seat or seatbelt laws. Go ahead moms, take a moment to yourself and deeply breathe into a paper bag. In Dubai, it is relatively common to see toddlers poke their heads out of windows or even out of a car's sunroof. Families also drive around with babies sitting firmly in their mothers' laps.
17 Domestic Help Is The Norm
Parents work hard and play hard in Dubai, and because a certain level of perfection is expected from mothers, outside help is often brought in to help with the domestic duties.
Full-time childcare is the norm, even when mothers don't work outside the home. Almost all families, 94% of them to be exact, in Dubai also have childminders and housekeepers, as well as family drivers. Having a full staff is pretty common to moms from Dubai, especially if they have money.
Most moms in the US struggle with the idea of having even a part-time sitter help care for their kids. Ladies in Dubai have no issue passing off the child-rearing duties to people in their employ.
16 And Help Comes From Outside Of The Country
When it comes to hiring people to help the moms of Dubai with the cooking, the cleaning, the shuttling kids around, and the general domestic duties, other countries are looked to first.
Places like Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines, or Bangladesh provide women to fill the roles that these Dubai mommies are seeking because they work for cheap. Because of the controversy that hiring outside of the Dubai region has caused, some countries have banned the UAE from recruiting from within their borders. They claim that caregivers and domestic workers are not only paid very little but get worked far too hard.
15 No Dads At The Doctors Office
It's not just parenting in Dubai that looks so vastly different compared to what we are used to in the western world. The pregnancy experience is also different there. One mom, who lived in the US—and for several years in Dubai—explained that when she was pregnant, she had to leave her husband in the doctor's office waiting room when she went in for her monthly visits with her OB/GYN. Not only was her baby's father left out of the examination room, but men who accompanied their wives had to wait in a male-only waiting room, away from the ladies. Different spaces for men and women is typical in this part of the world. Even bus lines and grocery store lines will be male and female oriented.
14 Showing Dad Some Love Is NOT Okay!
Living in the open with your same gender partner can get you thrown in jail, but so can showing some love to your opposite gender partner. In the UAE, parents have to keep their affections behind closed doors.
According to Dubai's Code of Conduct, simple acts of love, like kissing, can land a married pair in serious trouble with the law. Imagine being out in one of Dubai's premier parks with your husband and your baby. The mood strikes you to give your husband a kiss and a hug, and then suddenly you are breaking laws and putting your family in danger of being split apart with jail time. All acts of affection are meant to take place away from the view of others.
13 Kids Go To Designated Schools Depending On Citizenship
In the states, kids turn five and head on over to the local public school that is closest to their home to receive an education. Typically, children's school building assignments depend on where community lines get drawn up. Parents in Dubai send their kids to specific schools based on their nationality. In Dubai, kids attend public school, but only if they are Emirati. Any expat children, along with a smattering of special Emirati kids, (including the children of the king and queen,) attend private schools. The private school experience provides children with incredible opportunities as well as diversity.
12 And Their Education Can Be Pricey
If private school is the way Dubai parents choose to go, then they are going to have to fork over a hefty sum of cash. Private school tuition can run upwards of $11,000 a year, per child! The older the kids get, the more the education will cost. A family with three kids would be paying over $30,000 in education costs alone each year! These private schools offer some excellent opportunities to the pupils though. Kids leave high school speaking fluent Arabic and will likely have traveled to several countries already, thanks to the fantastic sports programs that many of these institutions have built in. Sure the schools provide perks, but that cost alone is enough to make any parent in the western world sweat bullets.
11 No Glass To Unwind With At The End Of The Day
A cup of joe or a piping mug of tea at the end of a long day? Sure, no problem. A tall glass of something stronger because the children ran circles around you, screaming at the top of their lungs all day long? That isn't going to fly in Dubai mamas!
While we all see nothing wrong with unwinding with a bit of Vino, drinking anything with a stronger content is illegal in the UAE if a person is Muslim. For those who aren't Muslim, the practice is still very restricted. To have a bit of bubbly, an Expat mama needs to hold a particular license.
10 Your Abu Dubai Diaper Bag Is Going To Be A Statement Piece
Mommies in Dubai won't be seen lugging around a diaper bag from the local Target superstore. They are always on trend and much more into high fashion compared to western civilizations. Because Emirati women in Dubai keep their bodies and heads fully covered, they flaunt beautiful bags to show off their looks and personal style. Bags, along with shoes, are significant statements of wealth in Dubai. It is not uncommon to see most mommies carrying an infant in one arm and a giant, expensive Louis Vuitton bag in the other.
In Dubai, everything is bigger, better and flashier, and just because a woman becomes a mother doesn't mean that she leaves her designer trademarks behind.
9 Busy Moms Still Make Time For Hair Removal
Here in the western world, us moms spend our day carting kids around in messy top knots and comfy yoga pants. When you have small children underfoot, you generally have little time to make yourself look like a Kardashian. In Dubai, moms make it a priority to look runway ready. Their eyebrows and makeup are almost always impeccably done, and they take great care in making sure their bodies are hairless. With the culture in Dubai, having body hair is unacceptable, so moms have to make an effort to have it removed frequently. In this corner of the world, a laser hair removal center can be found on nearly every block.
8 Pregnant In High Heels... Literally
Much like purses and bags, shoes are a means for women in Dubai to express themselves and their fashion sense. Pregnant women in the states spring for comfort over glam when they are expecting. They don't want to chance falling or tumbling over while carrying their babies in their bellies.
In Dubai, pregnant women don't care much for comfort. They rock six-inch Louboutin heels even into the late trimesters. In this part of the world, nothing comes before flaunting signs of great wealth and fashion, and when the vast majority of your body is covered, shoes are a small way to show the world you are dripping in moolah.
7 There Is Not A Lot Of Support For Parents With Special Needs Children
Schools in Dubai can offer children opportunities beyond the western world's wildest dreams, but they are not all they seem to be cracked up about for parents with children that have special needs. Doing as little as talking about disabilities in Dubai is considered taboo. Finding the right school for a child with disabilities can be a real challenge for many parents. One Expat mom spent four years trying to get her child into a school that best suited her needs.
In Dubai, Autism rates are increasing, much like they are in the states, but there is not nearly the same movement towards advancing the special education system there that there is in the west.
6 The Overall Parenting Style Here Is More Laid Back Than In The Western World
According to one mother who lived in both the states and then in Dubai, moms are more laid back than most US mamas. While us stateside parents have earned a reputation for being helicopter moms and dads, parents in Dubai let their kids run pretty freely. Young kids are allowed to go to parks and play without supervision or even walk to the corner store by themselves. If you stop into one of Dubai's many malls, don't be surprised if you run into several little ones wandering about without their mom or dad close by. Some might look at this parenting style as allowing children to grow, while others might consider it slightly neglectful.
5 Less Parental Judgement
Misbehaving kids are about as common as sand in Dubai, and this might be because the parenting style there is more laid back. Parents in the states would consider leaving their small children home with a sitter if they were planning on heading out to a fancy restaurant, but in Dubai, moms and dads take their kids no matter how nice a place is. They don't change up their approach to parenting just because they are somewhere that is mostly adult-based. There might be candles and chandeliers in a swanky eatery, but there also might be little kids running around acting crazy.
4 Outsource Parenting Is Huge There
If you live in Dubai and you don't outsource your parenting duties, then you are the outlier. Most families who are considered to be expat rely on the help of others because they live so far away from their home communities. While some give a big old bravo to parents who outsource their job, others worry about the lasting effects that being raised by maids might have on the youth in Dubai.
Rashid Hospital in Dubai released a report that claimed 70% of young burn victims who had had an accident in the home had been in the care of a housemaid, not their parent.
3 You Have To Teach Kids To Follow Rules And Laws, Or Else
There are a lot of things that can land a person living in Dubai in jail. Life there is nothing like it is in the western world, so parents have to teach their kids what is acceptable and what isn't from an early age on up. Simple things that we take for granted here in the west can result in jail time for those living in Dubai. Kissing, showing physical affections, living with a partner of the same gender, consuming adult beverages, and dressing in a manner that doesn't reflect the strict culture are all offenses that can result in jail time. Kids raised from the start in Dubai might not struggle with learning these ins and outs, but children who move to Dubai with their families later on in life may.
2 Pollution Woes And Health Concerns Exist
No one wants to raise their children in a place riddled with pollution, but the mothers and father in Dubai have to put up with illnesses brought on because of poor air quality. The UAE has some of the dirtiest air in the entire world. The frequent sandstorms blow around silica crystals that often contain viruses, bacteria, and dust mites. If your child has allergies, these environmental issues are even more concerning.
Other contributors to UAE pollution include exploitation of the country’s natural resources, rapid population surges, and high energy demands. Aside from polluted air, the country's oceans are pretty contaminated as well.
1 Less Time To Run Outdoors
Because of poor air quality and ridiculously sweltering temperatures, kids in Dubai don't run and play outside all day long. The average temperature in the city hovers around one hundred degrees for most months. On days that the city sits and simmers, kids and parents have to remain indoors for their safety. Many local families have gotten around this inside only policy by sleeping the blazing days away and being up and active during the cooler nighttime hours. That might work for babies and moms, but it won't do for kids who must attend school and dads that have to get up bright and early and earn a dollar.