As a Gulf Kid who has lived in many places in Dubai from Satwa to Dubai Sports City, I always thought I’m a city girl. The hustle and bustle always keeps me moving, new places to see in the city, and cities are always the perfect place for artists or freelancers.
The funny thing about Umm Al Quwain is not everyone is familiar with this sleepy and smallest emirate in the UAE, its either people will hear I live in Kuwait or the clueless look of people who haven’t explored the UAE has on their faces, Umm Al Quwain is always seen as a getaway place rather than a place to settle down, but here are the best 10 reasons why I prefer living in Umm Al Quwain than Dubai!
1. Close to nature
If you’re a big fan of cottagecore or are a huge nature lover, Umm Al Quwain might be your cup of tea since you’ll be seeing plenty of open spaces mostly vast desert, lush trees everywhere, open beaches like the Kite Beach or the Umm Al Quwain beach can invigorate your senses. In Umm Al Quwain, you’ll be seeing more of the environment than in Dubai.
There’s a huge difference between the two cities, since Dubai is much more well developed while Umm Al Quwain is still an untouched gem. I’ve been traveling back and forth between two emirates. On weekdays I’m living and working in Umm Al Quwain but on the weekends I’m in Dubai since I’m studying.
As someone who loves nature, I often find myself walking my puppy in the morning and afternoon by the vast desert, or spending Sunday afternoons reading by the beach which is 5 minutes away from where I live. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll appreciate seeing the blue open skies, seeing overgrown plants with flowers, inhaling fresh air, and experiencing the serenity and refreshment nature has. Dubai also has numerous floral cafes, and parks that have greenery but if you want to enjoy a 360 degrees immersion in nature then Umm Al Quwain should be your go-to!
2. Laidback lifestyle and peaceful
In Umm Al Quwain, I find the laidback lifestyle soothing and positively improving my mental health than I was living in Dubai, to each their own of course but because Umm Al Quwain is full of nature rather than buildings and the ambience is oozing in serenity, it’s perfect for people who wants to have a lifestyle change whether to implement slow living practices or work-life balance.
Umm Al Quwain, doesn’t have a lot of attractions on every corner like Dubai does which will help you have a laidback lifestyle and be more focused. If you’re tired from the rush of city life and are craving for a more slow-paced yet meaningful way of lifestyle, Umm Al Quwain is just one bus away! Dubai, just like any cities in the world, is drowned by noise, crowded, and can often make you feel overwhelmed, but in Umm Al Quwain I felt more peaceful with the chirping birds, gentle mornings, and quiet surroundings.
3. Affordable cost of living
It depends on how you budget but I find living in Umm Al Quwain affordable than in Dubai, first since there’s not much malls to visit in Umm Al Quwain, I don’t have to find myself buying unnecessary things or cave in to numerous sales since majority of the shops are sparse from one another.
You can compare the prices when you go to Dubai if you’re from Umm Al Quwain or vice versa since some are much cheaper in Dubai than in Umm Al Quwain. One of the important factors of why living in Umm Al Quwain is much affordable is the housing, there’s plenty of cost-effective apartments and accommodations here that people from all walks of life would prefer. In Dubai, if you’re familiar with the housing rates whether you live in a bedspace, one-bedroom apartment or villa it can be less economical depending on your finances.
The second thing that makes Umm Al Quwain appealing to me is the taxis are not metered, unlike in Dubai it can cost you a lot. You can go to places by bargaining with the driver and it won’t cost you an arm or leg! In my case, I live less than 5 minutes away from the open beach so with only AED 10 dirhams I can go back and forth to the beach whenever I feel like it! Even studying to get a UAE driving license is more cost-effective here than in Abu Dhabi or Dubai! However, since I mentioned I go to Dubai on the weekends since I’m studying, to cut costs I would hit one bird with two or three stones. I would do everything I have to Dubai aside from going to my classes, go to church and shop around if I have the time.
4. Back to basics
If you can still remember the lockdowns caused by quarantines in the UAE, then you would see the value of sticking to the basics and often finding yourself re-evaluating your life decisions not in a bad way but a good one since you’re more self conscious. In Umm Al Quwain, whenever you want to buy fresh produce there’s the Umm Al Quwain Fish Market, where you can see the port, numerous freshly caught fishes from hammour to king fish!
You can also buy fresh vegetables and fruits there. If you need to have a doctor’s appointment for your health, there’s Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital, Umm Al Quwain Hospital, Dr. Sunny Medical Centre, and Thumbay Hospital to name a few, you don’t have to worry about your welfare if you’re here! In Umm Al Quwain, I learned to be more wise about my spending, and the urge to shop whenever there’s a sale no longer has a stronghold on me. Of course, there are discount centres and sales here but my mindset changed since I prioritize what really matters the most than material things.
5. Tourist attractions
Don’t get me wrong, just because Umm Al Quwain is one of the smallest emirate in the UAE, sitting quietly between Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah, doesn’t mean it’s boring and you won’t be seeing any hint of civilization. It would take a while before you can adjust to living in Umm Al Quwain especially if you can from the city.
There are many tourist attraction sites that you can visit from the UAQ National Museum to Umm Al Quwain Fort. Since Umm Al Quwain is rich in mother nature, you can take advantage of going on camping by the beach if that’s your thing. However if you fancy a little bit of luxury, you can check in Vida Beach Resort or Pearl Hotel & Spa where you can enjoy an overlooking view of the beach and enjoy a wonderful stay.
You can also shop, dine or watch cinema in the Mall of UAQ if you want to. Another thing is there’s also plenty of fast food chains here ready to satisfy your cravings from Hardees to McDonald’s. If you ever need art supplies or books to read there’s plenty of bookshops and libraries you can get lost in! There are often times I find myself longing for Dubai since I want to visit another newly opened cafe or attraction but I realized that I don’t have to rush and I can always visit those when everything falls into place, for now I learned to be content with what I have.
6. Haven for road trip enthusiasts
I would often find myself going on road trips on the weekends for my classes. When it comes to transportation from Umm Al Quwain there’s a couple of modes you can take, such as taxis, Ajman buses that have interconnecting routes from Umm Al Quwain to Dubai.
However, if you plan to settle down here, the majority of the people who live here have a car and it’s highly beneficial! Since as I mentioned, the majority of the shops are sparse from one another, a car can help you get around, if you don’t want to spend a couple of dirhams for just buying basic necessities. Everytime I go to Dubai, I would enjoy the road trip back and forth, sometimes it can be exhausting but the travel makes it another avenue for me to reflect, and unwind. If you’re someone who loves to hit the road then living in Umm Al Quwain might be ideal for you.
7. You can have an active lifestyle
Are you a fitness enthusiast or a gym lover? Don’t worry, if you plan to relocate to Umm Al Quwain, you don’t have to sacrifice your lifestyle, there’s plenty of gyms you can go to such as the 24 GYM, VIP Training Fitness, and Miami fitness centre. However, in my case, biking and walking is what mostly I do and I’m not alone! Everytime I go for a walk or ride my bike in the afternoon, women, children, and families are also doing the same thing! It’s hard not to stay active when there’s plenty of nature to enjoy.
By walking you can experience nature firsthand, I often find myself meditating, and praying whenever I walk and watch the beautiful sunset by the desert. In Dubai, you can be active there since there’s plenty of wellness centres, gyms, and yoga studios ready to cater to your needs, in Umm Al Quwain, you can do so too! One of the best things about Umm Al Quwain that I really enjoy is biking is a common activity here since the roads are less crowded unlike in the city, there’s plenty of open spaces to hang out and to roam around!
8. Perfect for remote workers or freelancers
As a writer or creative, I often find myself imagining that I’m on a writing retreat in Umm Al Quwain since how can it not be? There’s breathtaking nature outside, I can work anywhere as long as I have my laptop with me and a great internet connection then I’m all good!
Any remote worker or freelancer knows how essential having your gadgets with you and a reliable internet connection to work anywhere! In Umm Al Quwain, you might miss the coworking spaces and numerous cafes that Dubai has left and right. Don’t worry, you can find numerous cafes that can cater to your remote work such as the Zayed Bookshop, Starbucks Cafe and Dunkin Donut in the Mall of UAQ.
If you’re wondering if living in Umm Al Quwain is safe since there’s plenty of nature, and it’s far from the bustling cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a sleepy emirate seems to be too remote for your liking, let me enlighten you on this matter. As a woman and a resident in the UAE, I’ve been living in Umm Al Quwain for two months now, there has not been any experiences of harassment or dangerous situations on my part. There are instances when I arrived from Dubai’s Union Bus Station to the Salama Market in Umm Al Quwain which is the only bus stop for this emirate. I would not feel any fear since I’m safe at the ungodly hour of 12am.
There are police cars roving the areas in Umm Al Quwain, most of the apartments here are close to one another which makes you feel less isolated, therefore if you live all by yourself you don’t have to worry since apartments usually have guards and CCTV installed everywhere in the premises. Of course, it’s important to exercise precaution like not going out in the desert by yourself since there’s foxes running around to avoid danger. In Umm Al Quwain, I don’t have to worry about my safety and it wouldn’t have to wreck my mental health thinking about it.
Yes, if you’re wondering if Umm Al Quwain is accessible the answer is a resounding yes. If you come from Dubai, you can hop on the bus going to Ras Al Khaimah in Union Station and within an hour and a half you’ll go down to Salama Market in Umm Al Quwain. Yes, there are plenty of modes of transportation you can choose to go to Umm Al Quwain but what makes this emirate enticing to live in when you have a car you can go to Ajman or drive farther to the bustling cities of Dubai or Abu Dhabi worry free, or drive down to Ras Al Khaimah or Fujairah! Umm Al Quwain City is accessible to many essential places like the fish market, supermarkets, cafeterias and more in the area!
There are pros and cons living in Umm Al Quwain but it depends on your priorities and financial capacity, if you’re thinking of moving to Umm Al Quwain for a change of scenery or want to work in this quiet emirate, you have to consider all of the factors before taking the leap of faith. For now, I’m enjoying my life in Umm Al Quwain and not taking anything for granted while I stay here, besides I still get the best of both worlds of city life and rural life.
About the Author: Nicole Marie Valdez
Nicole Marie Valdez is a seasoned writer, editor, and publicist for over four years now. She’s a mental health advocate and passionate about writing purpose-driven stories.