Moving abroad can be a tricky thing to do. Discovering a new country and all that it has to offer whilst also trying to set up a new life and adjust to a new culture. To make things slightly easier, we here at Out & About UAE have come up with a list of essential smart phone apps to make your life here that little bit simpler.
Waze: The first thing you will need to do is to navigate your way around the UAE – and what better way to do this than with a free satellite navigation application. The app covers all seven Emirates and is despite the ever-changing roads in the UAE the maps are exceptionally good. We have found the app to be very simple to use and very accurate (previously we had a Garmin GPS that used to get me lost every time we would go to Dubai!). Finding where you need to go can be done via either Facebook/Four square places, street address, map navigation or the old UAE favourite… GPS co-ordinates! It provides turn-by-turn voice and visual navigation. This is more than just a GPS though – the app uses the location of all its users, and if one user is stuck in traffic, it will divert other users on alternative routes to avoid the area. You will never be stuck in traffic again, but you will find yourself using routes and shortcuts you would’ve never imagined. So there is no longer any need to be late for work again, Trust us Waze work. If you only download one app to your phone we suggest that this is it.
Google Translate: This app is perfect for those of us who don’t speak or are learning to speak Arabic. There will be times where you may find it difficult to be understood, or someone is trying to explain something to you in Arabic (or another language you are not familiar with). Just fire up this app and speak into the microphone, the phone will then translate your words into Arabic text on screen, and Arabic language through the loudspeaker. This works in reverse as well (so Arabic can be translated into English). What is genius about this app is that you can type text or take a photograph of a sign for example, and the app will translate this too – so you won’t find yourself in that awkward situation of going into the wrong toilet! This app seems to work quite accurately, with the only downside being that if you have no WiFi you will have to resort to your precious data usage.
Zomato: Is an essential app for all the foodies out there. Search for restaurants close to your location, view the menus, read reviews, or even reserve a table. Zomato has all your food needs in one place and is an excellent resource for locating new and exiting places to dine and you will find yourself forever checking the app in an attempt to decide where to try next. Zomato is also a community based app – so you are actively encouraged to write reviews, post photos, check in and become involved in this new food revolution.
The latest update provides the functionality to order take away food from restaurants and have it delivered right to your home, without the hassle of having to phone up and order yourself!
Uber: This is a new one to the UAE market, but is already proving incredibly popular. An entirely new and modern way to travel is at your fingertips! Are you tired of waiting for taxi’s or having to overcome the language barrier of trying to describe where you are located? Uber uses your phone’s GPS to detect your location and connects you with the nearest available driver. Get picked up anywhere — even if you don’t know the exact address. When you request a ride the app will find a driver and let you track their location on the map. Your driver’s name and car details appear in the app, and you can message or call if you need to. You can View rates for your city & get a fare estimate for your trip. Best of all its a cashless service, so once you arrive at your destination, your fare is automatically charged to your credit card. It’s the perfect alternative to taxi’s when you don’t want to drive, though unfortunately it is only available for use in Abu Dhabi & Dubai at present.
Styck: This app is a brand new concept for the UAE market & it is incredible. Just download the app to your phone (currently only available on iOS) and the app records your steps and tracks your activities. These steps are then transferred into free rewards, from a cup of coffee, to a nights stay in a hotel – so the more you move, the better the rewards. This is a great opportunity for you to develop a healthier more active lifestyle with an incentive for doing so. The app is very new to the market, but we can see it making a great impression over the coming months. So download and make sure you keep your phone on you at all times.
Task Spotting: is an exciting new way to earn money using your phone by completing simple tasks around your city. The concept is a first for the UAE and pays you to collect information from places like malls, retailers & restaurants – it is basically mystery shopping. Just download the app to your phone and explore the available missions based on their proximity to your location. Then accept the mission and complete the activities on site (this may include asking questions or taking photos). Next you submit your mission for verification and approval, before receiving your payment via PayPal or cash. The missions usually take just a few minutes to complete and typically pay between AED 10 and AED 75 each. Just remember that all missions must be completed on site, so you will need access to either Wifi or data usage to participate. This is an excellent way to make a little bit of extra spending money, for doing next to nothing.
XE: When moving abroad it can sometimes be difficult getting your head around the local currency. Despite having lived in the UAE for two years, I still convert all expenditures back into UK pounds. There is no simpler tool to do this than with XE which contains every world currency, with up to the minute rates, ready for conversion. It even stores the latest rate, so that it can be used even when you have no data. This is an essential tool for working out how much things cost and comparing the prices of things in relation to your home country.
Dubizzle: This is the most popular classified site in the UAE. Whether you are looking to buy or sell a car, looking for property to rent, or looking for a new job. This app makes it simple to browse adverts or to place your own in just a few clicks. This really is the place to be if you are looking for almost anything in the UAE.
Smart Salik: This application is essential for anyone who drives in Dubai. Salik is the tag fitted to the windscreen of your car, which charges 4 dirhams to your pre-paid account once you pass though one of its toll gates. Sometimes finding somewhere to top up you Salik can prove difficult, thus resulting in unnecessary fines! With this app you can easily top up your Salik account credit, track the journeys you have completed through the toll gates, check your balance, view your violations, or add a new vehicle.
Darb: Are you a public transport user in Abu Dhabi City? If so then Darb is the app for you, providing you with live data on traffic conditions, traffic incidents & road works in Abu Dhabi, real-time bus arrival information & access to current airport information including departures, arrivals and parking. You can select a route from your current location to a desired destination using the on-screen map, and choose to receive either the shortest distance route or the fastest route. The app also enables the user to book a taxi, pay for on-street parking, and obtain ferry schedule information – covering all your transport needs within the capital.
Makani: One of the most frustrating things about living in the UAE is the lack of addresses and the fact that post codes simply do not exist. This makes navigate around the city with a GPS particularly tricky, unless you are adept at orienteering and mastering those pesky co-ordinates! Thankfully Dubai Emirate has you covered with the introduction of Makani – a unique application for providing geographical addressing in the Emirate of Dubai. A ten digit “Makani Number” is used to locate a building’s entrancen – simply highlight the building on the apps interactive map & its main entrance will be displayed with its relevant Makani number, which the app can then convert into GPS co-ordinates. Once the Makani number is selected you can use turn by turn voice guided navigation from your current location to the targeted destination. With Makani you will never get lost in Dubai again… hopefully!
Souq.com: One of the first things you will notice when moving to the Emirates is that they don’t have Amazon here, and unfortunately Amazon will not ship here (even to PO boxes). Thankfully there is a solution. Souq is an Amazon equivalent for use in the UAE, it has all the same features and is a great shopping tool. Once purchased the items are couriered directly to your home within a matter of days, you also have the option to pay with your credit card, or pay cash on delivery. Souq sells pretty much everything and have some great daily deals available… it’s not quite Amazon, but it will do for now.
Dubai Police: This is a very handy app for those living in Dubai Emirate. It puts some of the Dubai Police transactions right at your fingertips, saving you the time of actually having to go to the police station in person. For example the app can be used to request certificates (such as the good will clearance), pay traffic fines, or to report traffic accidents or violations. You can also view your own profile which includes copies of your Emirates ID & details of any vehicles you may own.
Ministy Of Interior: The UAE’s MOI application is very similar to that of Dubai Police, in the fact that it is the Abu Dhabi equivalent. It covers.traffic & licensing (vehicles registration, traffic fines), civil defense (institutions licensing & engineering plans) & naturalization/residency (entry permits, visa services & residency). The application provides service center locations & also provides news and information about the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates
These are (in our opinion) the essential apps that will help make your life in the UAE that bit simpler. Please feel free to comment if you think we have missed an app that should be included.