I've lived in Dubai for almost 3 years and I do agree its a safe place if you want to go by the rules... and there are many that are not so obvious for a western coming for the first time to a muslim country.
Dubai is considered relatively soft compared to other countries in the region and to other emirates within the UAE.
I'm now based in Singapore but what I'll report here are not just my opinions but a collection of common feelings about Dubai from people I came across during this short period of time.
Pros (and a some advice):
- Safe if you play within the rules (bounce cheques, drink and driving, gossiping or damaging the country image in the social media, eating outside during daytime on ramadan, etc are a no-no)
- Nice salaries due to 0% tax (but be careful of temptations... a recent study shows that 65% of expats leave Dubai without saving one dirham. Its easy and fast to get yourself a 3 times ones salary in a credit card and banks do push you a lot to get a loan on your card)
- Great career opportunities due to the high workforce demand (but beware that some companies in free-zones do take advantage of a young country legal system and work around the rules... I've experienced it in first person. People are fired as easily as they are hired. Try to focus on the multinational company opportunities ONLY)
- Clean and nice environments
- Opportunities to travel within the region. Lots of weekends options for outdoor lovers and explorers alike (always cary your ID)
- Amazing experience on being exposed to different nationalities (if you find it enriching as some people do)
- Culture is definitely there but not in the same places and quantity the way westerners are use to. Culture does not come to you, you have to find it for yourself (there is som much to discover). Commerce and malls do still find a big audience as in most western countries.
- Some things are incredibly cheap: cars and fuel are just inexpensive (I've manage to stubbornly live without one but trust me: you'll need a car)
- Nice beaches (if you can access them, most are private)
- Everyone's hopen and willing to talk to you. Very easy to make business or access key people in any industry
- Easy place to get in but hard to get out (the push towards the hospitality industry makes it easy/accessible to travel to Dubai but you'll find that buying a round trip ticket from there will cost you almost twice)
- Communication can be a challenge. Not everyone has the same level of english
- Easy comes, easy goes... some things do cost a lot (utilities, services, housing, food, healthcare, travel, hospitality)
- Most of the year its unbearably hot outside, life does not exist without AC. You'll need a car to move or do not move at all
- Friendships are scarce... by the time you can say you know someone, chances are that that person (or you) has to leave. And there is always someone arriving or leaving
- The beautiful and shinning buildings you'll see everywhere are not so shinny on the inside. Interiors and finishing are not a priority for the small real estate investors that just want to make quick money
- Locals do not mingle with expats. It's very difficult to get opportunities to get to know, learn from and access the nationals... and I'm sure both sides are missing a lot.
In all, it's a great/enriching experience for most people and I feel lucky (and honoured) I had the chance to live, work and meet such an amazing handful of people in Dubai.
Hope this helps you and others in any way!