The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the world’s most popular expat destinations. Around 80% of the country’s population are immigrants, while only 10% of Dubai’s population is made up of Emirati nationals. With such a large number of expats, the UAE is undoubtedly a highly diverse and multicultural nation. As one of the six countries making up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UAE has fast established itself as one of the leading economic hubs in the Middle East.
The UAE’s two largest cities – Dubai and Abu Dhabi – are vast expat hubs. While being an expat in a new country can be stressful, there are many social clubs to join where you can meet like-minded people and make new friends. We’ve created this guide to introduce some of these clubs you can join while living in the UAE!
With various nationalities co-existing in Dubai, it follows that clubs have emerged offering that cater to different cultural interests. They often aren’t exclusive to nationals of each country and welcome people from all over the world. To grab a slice of the action, it’s worth checking out these groups:
Scots in Dubai: This is a great group that aims to “provide a social focus for expatriate Scots in Dubai, whilst at the same time upholding the Scottish tradition of generosity by raising money for various charities throughout the year.”
Belgian Club Dubai: this club was founded in 2008 and exists as a platform for networking between business people and authorities in the UAE.
Swiss Ladies Club: A club for Swiss women living in Dubai where they can make friendships and unwind over coffee.
Australian Business Council Dubai: a more business-oriented club which promotes relationships between Australian and Dubai-based businesses.
Dubai Spanish and Latino Club: Organised through the website Meetup, this club brings the world’s Spanish and Latino expats together
Aussies Abroad Abu Dhabi: A club founded to promote Australian culture amongst Aussies in Abu Dhabi. Membership has its perks as discounts are offered for some businesses.
Alliance Française Abu Dhabi: This French embassy-supported centre is dedicated to French language and culture lovers from all over the world. Expect events all year round.
Abu Dhabi Irish Society: With over 40 years of activity, this is a club with events year-round. Perks include various discounts at businesses around the city!
The Brit Club Abu Dhabi: This group aims to bring British expats together through socials involving food and drinks!
Expat Football Association: This is Dubai’s fastest-growing football community, with activities including 6, 7, 8 and 11 a side football as well as women’s football. The club utilises Whatsapp to communicate between expats and arrange matches.
Dubai Exiles Club: Rugby, cricket and netball are all on offer for people of all ages in this fantastic sports club.
Abu Dhabi Striders: Into running? This club is ideal; featuring 4 runs a week and an annual 10K and half marathon.
Dubai Roadsters: For expats into cycling, this club of 5,000 members conducts weekly rides around Dubai.
Equestrian Association for People of Determination: This is a non-profit organisation in Dubai where persons with special needs including physical and cognitive disabilities can learn horseback riding. The club features a purpose-built accessible facility. The organisation also offers volunteering opportunities for those interested.
Interests and Hobbies
Languages: Expats interested in practising languages should use Meetup to explore the variety of clubs hosted for fellow linguists around Dubai and Abu Dhabi! Most of the common languages are available including Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Arabic and more!
Expat Investors and Entrepreneurs Club: featuring networking, talks and seminars in Abu Dhabi, this club focuses on finance, investment and business-building areas of discussion.
Gastronomic Adventures: What better way to learn about the world’s culture than sampling authentic cuisine and discussing traditions with expats from all over the world!
Emirates Photography Club: Events on “astronomy photography” and “coffee and critique” are all part of this club’s activities. The EPC is an ideal club for expats with a creative eye.
Find out more about expat clubs and societies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi by visiting websites such as Meetup and searching through social networking websites such as Facebook. Whatsapp is also a popular form of contact in the UAE, so joining an expat group on the app might be a good idea for meeting new people.