Five reasons why Karachi is better than Dubai

Published: June 25, 2015

Turns out, Karachi is better than Dubai in a number of ways.

I have been living in Dubai for the past three years, and since my immediate family is based in Dubai, I haven’t gotten a chance to travel home much. But being an expat, I still miss Karachi. The city still feels like home because I was born and raised there and have numerous memories attached to it.

Recently, I had the chance of visiting Karachi after a very long time and ended up enjoying it way more than Dubai. Turns out, Karachi is better than Dubai in a number of ways.

1. When it comes to food, there’s no comparison

I feel this is an obvious one. The food in Karachi tastes much better than the food in Dubai. Our bun kebabs, biryanis, and barbeque are simply mouth-watering. There are Pakistani restaurants in Dubai as well, but only a few have the authentic Pakistani taste, and even that’s not anywhere close to the food in Karachi.

The best part is that this delicious food is available at every street corner of Karachi.

2. Every degree counts

The weather in Karachi and Dubai isn’t very different from each other, except that Karachi is usually five to 10 degrees cooler than Dubai, which makes a lot of difference. The intense heat and temperature in Dubai are unbearable during the summer and the prospect of outdoor activities is non-existent.

Also, Karachi winters are just perfect, whereas Dubai winters feel like moderate summer.

3. The importance of U-turns 

The laws and layout of the roads are more relaxed as compared to Dubai. For instance, while driving in Karachi, you can take a U-turn easily, but in Dubai, majority of the roads don’t have U-turns. In fact, at times, you have to drive long distances to find a cut.

Want to cross the road? Do it from anywhere you like in Karachi, but in Dubai, you can’t cross the road from just anywhere without risking a fine, other than a zebra crossing.

Just as almost every Karachiite has been subjected of street crime, nearly every other person in Dubai has been subjected to street fines.

4. “I will give you best price”

If you have ever sold your used/old electronics in Dubai, you would know what a hassle it is. In Karachi, there is an established market for buying and selling old electronics, and that even for a reasonable price. Even if it’s complete junk, you will be able to get something for it.

I had a laptop, as well as an obsolete cell phone which I wanted to sell and it took me 10 minutes to sell them off for a reasonable price in Karachi. Perhaps the only way to dispose used and old electronics in Dubai would be throwing them down the garbage chute or in a bin.

5. When you buy things and convert Dirhams to Rupees or vice versa

As per the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), Karachi is the cheapest city in the world. If you convert everything from Dirhams to Rupees, it feels way cheaper in comparison to Dubai.

While shopping at Hyperstar in Dolmen Mall one evening, I kept buying items, mainly some local edibles which I wanted to take back to Dubai, as well as stock up for the time I was in Karachi. I kept picking up things off the shelves and noticed my trolley was stuffed. When I proceeded to the checkout, the bill was only about Rs1,600. My excitement escalated when I realised that I only paid AED60 for everything that I bought.

Karachi, the city of lights, is the economic capital of Pakistan. Unfortunately, it has been marred by violence and other issues over the years. Perhaps Dubai may not have developed as much were it not for the violence in Karachi  during the 80s. But we Karachiites still love Karachi.

It’s a great city and will always be our home.

Shais Memon

Shais Memon

The author is currently residing in Dubai and is working in the finance department. He tweets as @shaisahmad

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ali S

    Only expats could paint such a hunky-dory picture of Karachi. I lived in Dubai for 11 years and moved to Karachi almost 5 years back, and I totally understand why Karachi is a great place to visit (especially if you have family), but living here is a different story.

    The only thing that I find better in Karachi is the weather (the ongoing heatwave is an exception) and cost of living. And yes, the road layouts in Karachi are a little easier to get around too (although the haphazard traffic and total lack of civic sense doesn’t help much).

    The taste and quality of Pakistani food in Dubai is better in most cases and you don’t have to worry about getting sick, and while you may not be able to trade in old electronics as easily, you don’t have to worry about being sold a defective or stolen phone either. And of course, crime, power and water outages are also distinct features of Karachi.Recommend

  • Uz

    Karachi has history,culture and authenticity as well as actual ethnic diversity, Dubai on the other hand like many large cities of the Gulf, is plastic,artificial and shallow and moreover unsustainable.

    However as a Karachiite, at this point in time, I would much rather be in Dubai than in Karachi, where it is safe from crime and terrorism, and where the the wages are much higher and the job/business opportunities are much more than over here.

    Also Dubai has much better streets and infrastructure & cleaner beaches, so that’s an advantage over Karachi but it’s fabricated city and will saturate by the time the Oil dries up and the hardworking expats leave.Recommend

  • Ali

    What a joke…!! I am living in Dubai for the past 5 years and comparing Dubai with Karachi is comparing Mountain with a mole hill…!! keep living in such delusion – Pakistan will go to drains more….!!Recommend

  • Yasothan Palanisamy

    yes correct it doesnot have single bomb blast and most of the mnc in karachi, infrastructure is better than afgan,Recommend

  • Nitin Jadhav

    How about the Violent, Crime rate, Security for women, Infrastructure, Gdp contribution?Recommend

  • Ghulam Lone

    Let’s not kid ourselves – karachi has better food, street life and vibrancy, but Dubai has security.Recommend

  • Ba-boom-tish

    The clincher is that the writer is writing from the perspective of a visiting ‘expat’; I say try living in Karachi for any protracted period of time and it will quickly dawn on you that this place has literally gone to the dogs. Ease of making U-turns somehow doesn’t cut it as an organized, stable and secure place to raise a family. In fact, apart from the weather, every reason citing why Karachi is better than Dubai can easily be proven not only as wrong but perhaps mischievously so !Recommend

  • Parvez

    If you’re talking quality ……… you are way off the mark. If you’re being nostalgic then I don’t blame you.Recommend

  • Barkat

    “When I proceeded to the checkout, the bill was only about Rs1,600. My excitement escalated when I realised that I only paid AED60 for everything that I bought.”

    This is the dream of every Pakistani, to earn in Dirhams, Dollars and Pounds and purchase in rupees. LOL
    Also what is the guarantee that mobile, laptop you are going to sell in Karachi market will not be taken from you at gunpoint on your way?Recommend

  • Humza

    I have wanted to visit Karachi but my own friends who live there paint a dismal picture of the city which is why it is refreshing to read this blog. I have a good time in Islamabad and other cities in Punjab where there is relative calm, progress, fun and peace but I think Karachiites themselves have done to the reputation of their city. I hope to hear more positive blogs about Karachi the way Lahoris are always upbeat about their city.Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    Oh rich aunty, I’m sure you wrote this article on your iPad, from the back seat of the pajero your family have you to go about..

    You forgot to mention the dilapidated buses with crazy drivers

    You forgot to mention the no go zones of the city where a muhajir can’t go due to puahtoons majority and vice versa

    You forgot the lack of mass tratransit

    You forgot the dead bodies piled up due to heat wave

    You forgot the areasareas of lyari, orang where eleelectric andand waterwateavailable for months r isn’t Recommend

  • Sara

    My Response to your five points

    1. Probably stomachs rule over brains for Pakistanis otherwise thousands of cuisines are available in Dubai.
    2. All types of fun and activities are available in Dubai malls during summer if you have the pocket.
    3. U turns remind me of Pakistani “short cut mentality”
    4. All BRANDED items sell in minutes over Dubizzle website in Dubai.
    5. Pakistanis want to earn in Dirhams, Dollars, Pounds and would spend in Rupees. Typical Middle class mentality.Recommend

  • Demril Shaikh

    Very true…high time Pakistani Army should kick out PPP MQM…cuz PMLN and our corrupt politicians will never let this nation develop…Recommend

  • Obaid Al Ghurair

    For every city HISTORY starts at some point, unlike ages old cities history of Dubai is starting in a modern era of 21st century. With in 20-25 years Dubai has become most modern hub of Asia and world. Dubai has 180 nationalities living peacefully unlike Karachi where a foreigner can’t imagine traveling to.

    And please Do not predict future for Dubai as Allah is Great. People drenched in load shedding should not talk about sustainability and future of Dubai.

    For us locals there is lot of culture and authenticity along with modern 21st century infra structure which you can only dream for.Recommend

  • Sallu Mian

    You bought so many things for Rs 1600, and you say you kept on buying. Brother, were you buying Re 1 toffees? Because when I go to Hyperstar and buy stuff which amounts for nothing, I can easily spend Rs 3000 in 15 minutes.Recommend

  • Rajesh Mehta

    Karachi is Pakistan’s Mumbai and Delhi rolled into one. With a population of over 12 million, it houses eight per cent of the country’s total population, and as much as 20 per cent of Pakistan’s urban population

    More interestingly, of the 230,000 Hindus who lived in Karachi prior to Partition and constituted more than half of Karachi’s population, two-thirds had left Karachi and migrated to India. From being a Sindhi-Hindu city, in a matter of a few years,Karachi became a predominantly Muslim city where most of the inhabitants came from Delhi, UP and Mumbai.

    Karachi today is as much a Pakhtun and Punjabi city as it is an Afghan and muhajir city. In fact, with more than one million Pushto-speakers, Karachi is the largest Pakhtun city in the world.

    Clearly, from the mid-1980s for a decade or more, Karachi was not a city recommended for business or sight-seeing: it was a war zone. There was capital flight both in terms of financial and economic capital, but importantly, skilled human capital which left the city and this capital also stopped flowing into Karachi as it had done for four decades; clearly Karachi and its citizens lost out. The beneficiaries of Karachi’s loss has been the Punjab and Dubai.Recommend

  • islooboy

    Dude i have travelled to Khyber agency and Karachi and i feared more for my life in KarachiRecommend

  • CCTV Karachi
  • SamSal

    Karachi is better than Dubai if u-turns are more important than political stability for you. :)Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Somebody, please tell me that this article is tongue-in-cheek!Recommend

  • zeeshan

    Since last 7 years no funds had been given to Karachi by provincial govt owned by rural citizens voted corrupt feudal lords political party. Karachi generates 70% revenue for the country yet gets mistreatment by federal govt and is treated like a step son by Sindh govt. sad! otherwise Karachi was the dubai in 60s. Not to forget, all major intl flights used to land and connect from Karachi, yes not from Dubai but Karachi Recommend

  • Pakola

    1.None are authentic, people make their indigenous cuisines the best, only people with an inferiority complex would think otherwise.
    2.Yeah, all that fun comes at a cost and it’s all indoors, no wonder UAE has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, there’s something called “outdoors”, try and experience it.
    3.Emiratis and Arabs love short cuts too, they are no more honest than us, hell the rules don’t apply to them, South Asian expats are treated as slaves and inferior beings in Dubai.
    5.Who wouldn’t like shopping in a more affordable place with a stronger currency, it’s called being street smart, it’s funny how you call it “middle class mentality”, there is nothing wrong with being middle class, too bad we aren’t rich like your superficial Sheikhs.

    What I get from your comment, proves my impressions right, Dubai is mostly home to spoilt rich people who have a contempt for the hardworking poor and middle classes, no wonder they live in concentration camp like conditions.

    Enjoy until the Oil runs out and tourists stop coming.Recommend

  • unbelievable

    Which city is safer? Which city is cleaner? Which city is it safer to drive in? Which city has a reliable power supply? Which city has clean water, sewers etc. Even though Karachi temperature is cooler and may have better food – those things don’t make up for deficiencies in what most think are essential requirements. Only someone from Karachi would rank that city about Dubai.Recommend

  • Harris

    You forgot one more reason. In Karachi (unlike Dubai), about a thousand people can die due to heat waves in a few days! May God bless the departed souls.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    this has got to be the most ridiculous article ever. Whats next? Lyari is better than detroit?

    Karachi sucks and we all know it. No regards for humanity. 1000 people died of heat wave yet no one died in Lahore, Why? Because unlike backward and violent people of Karachi, Lahoris are kind and caring people who are working towards progression and development as seen with the new developments in state of the art infrastructure, transportation and healthcare facilities. What does karachi have to offer? Nothing but toxic waste, senseless killings, ethnic violence, mugging lootings, civil unrest, target killings and now the newly invited disaster, HEATWAVE.

    I hate Karachi and shame on the so called pseudo liberals of Karachi who know nothing else but to rant senselessly against politicians while showing total disregard for humanity at same time. I am glad I live in Lahore where we still live in peace and value human life. I suggest handing Karachi over to India because I fear if Karachi continues to be the mess that it is then it will spread its atrocities and problems to Lahore and we dont want that. For once a Pakistani city, Lahore of course, is progressing to make it international tourism ranks and on contrast we have a garbage city like Karachi constantly putting us in headlines for all the wrong reasons and constantly trying to put us down. Enough is Enough. Down with karachi and it’s uncivilized inhabitants.Recommend

  • Jehanzeb Mahar

    You don’t need a single reason to love Karachi more than Dubai because you were born and brought up in the former. Otherwise, Karachi is a very bad place to live in. And it’s funny how people here are praising the weather of Karachi; the polluted humid air which doesn’t dry up your sweat even after hours.Recommend

  • Dipak Mehta

    Pakistan is a Terrorist Country, Dubai is not. That’s what counts in the world. Recommend

  • Dipak Mehta

    Karachi kills more people per day than any other country.Recommend

  • Saboor Khan

    I will bring a Kabootar on you :DRecommend

  • Syed Sami

    Dubai is not a country :PRecommend

  • ارشد حسین

    Hey you forgot to mention all those people who live in these areas, and how they are enjoying a lot.
    Secondly i am UP’s urdu speaking and living in sohrab goth between waziristanis. Why are you lying?Recommend

  • ارشد حسین

    I am 100% agreed with writers, look the things he compared are very important for us middeclassers.
    But look at the comments, seem like people with full of complexity and pessimism. Recommend

  • Ahmed Andrabi

    Im not a Karachite, i am from Rawalpindi, but that was very mean what you said about Karachi. I cant imagine what people of Karachi would be feeling when they read this.Recommend

  • liberal-lubna-fromLahore

    what they r feeling i.e rage filled violence with compulsions to set their city on fire. we r better off without karachi!Recommend

  • Humza

    Try to read a little bit deeper. Who would want to create discord between Lahore and Karachi and for what purpose? Understand why “liberal-lubna-from-Lahore” really is pumping up Lahore at the expense of Karachi. She is more likely “liberal-laxmi from Bangalore” or working for them! Yes Punjab and its cities are relatively peaceful and developing. Yes there is progress and a sense of community in most cities of Punjab which may not exist in Karachi but everyone in the country understands the importance of Karachi as the key Port without which its imports and exports travel. Pakistan cannot survive without Karachi. No one would want to hand over a Sindi city to a foreign country! Every Pakistani knows that Sind’s history is much older than than of India. Also the Indus Valley Civilizations of Sind existed long before Hinduism and its people were in contact with Babylon and the ancient world. That’s why Sind is rightfully an ancient and unique civilization in its own right. People want peace and prosperity for Karachi and all other cities so that people can live properly. In Lahore and other cities in Punjab we can go about until the wee hours of the morning enjoying ourselves.I am looking forward to seeing Karachi when it becomes the same but I do not doubt that it will regain its past glory.Recommend

  • True Karachite

    karachi is the best

    who cares what you thinkRecommend

  • Sohail Anwar

    Hi All,

    Please update recent security situation in Karachi. ThanksRecommend

  • Raghu

    I lived in Dubai since my birth dating back to 1982. I have seen Dubai rise from rubble. I lived here, studied here till my A levels. Then i went to Karachi for my bachelors degree and lived in Karachi for 5 years. In spite of all the treats, dirtiness, mismanagement, chaos in Karachi. I had the best time of my life in Karachi. Maybe it was because i met with great friends in my university. But the enjoyment we had in Karachi can never be done in Dubai. I am back to Dubai and i can say for sure. Dubai roads are more horrible than Karachi roads. It does not take 1.5 hour to travel from Nazimabad to Gulshan. But here it take more than that.Recommend

  • Furrukh Rao

    Let me disagree with you Karachi History is totally Anglo,Parsi,Hindu and Few Gujarati Muslims. We totally forget our History but Dubai is still a Historical Place from the Core.Recommend

  • Noman

    Hello Friends
    Dubai has almost zero crime rate, no load shedding, no target killing, no snatching.
    If you are rich you can spend a luxury life there.

    Well Karachi is our city and also our pride its true that way of living is not so good here but what else we can do. Everyone is not so much rich to windup there business and move to Dubai with there family. Dubai is such a nice place to live but you can not live there freely like Karachi. Here Dubai looks better from Karachi but if you go there and start a job then you can realize the real difference. Later you feel yourself like a slave. You just pray to finish your 2 year contract and you can get back to your home because you dont have your passport in your hand before contract finish. If you get fever or some health issue no one cares about you even your room mate too. Recommend

  • Hassan

    hahahaha Dubai is a country… i have heard Indians are illiterate but this is the limit…ramu kaka..hahahaRecommend

  • Noor ul Amin

    Arshad you said the true aspect of Karachi. I am a pathan and living and working with my Urdu Speaking brothers & sisters, there is no issue among us. If anything happens on the name of Pashtuns and Mohajirs, it is between the political stake holders, who has nothing to do with us, just making money is the sole aim of their lives.

    I am a Software Engineer, easily relocate to Dubai but never prefered to go to Dubai, I am happy in my country. Though there is a need of great improvement, but we can manage it. So enjoy Karachi and Pakistan.Recommend