Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be moving to a foreign country to live, let alone a country in the Middle East. Over the 2009 Christmas and New Year’s holidays, my husband Roger and I discussed what we wanted the next part of our life to be like. He thought that before retiring, he would like to do one more airport project but only if he could find something very interesting. I half-jokingly agreed that would be fine but could he try for an exotic location? As usual, Roger came through and soon we were headed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This blog is a recap of our "leap-of- faith" wanderings around the Middle East and beyond. We joyfully share these expat experiences.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
TOP 10 REASONS I LOVE LIVING IN DUBAI!!
I have been living in Dubai for a little over a year now and can say unequivocally, “I LOVE DUBAI!!!”
I have many reasons to love Dubai: the rich history of this young country that I am privileged to explore; the interaction with different exotic cultures (well, they are exotic to me;) laughing about the absurdity of getting into a cab only to find out you have been in Dubai longer than the driver who hasn’t a clue where your destination is; celebrating little victories of surviving daily life as a first-time expat American living in an Arab country; and the melding of old and new traditions. This could go on and on, but thanks to my collaboration with a few friends, I have come up with The Top 10 Reasons I Love Living in Dubai...
10) You can get ANYTHING delivered at any hour, night or day: food, cosmetics, office supplies, dry cleaning, rental cars . . . Burger King at 3 AM? No problem!
9) I embraced the Electronic Age and went completely paperless and now conduct all my business on the Internet. It feels good doing my part to save the trees and the planet.
8) The opportunity to pray 5 times a day with our Muslim friends as the call to prayer begins at 4:40 AM and can be heard in every corner of Dubai 5 times a day. I now say my own prayer for peace at these calls to prayers--just a small gesture of solidarity with my Muslim friends.
7) The thrill of the grocery scavenger hunt as it is impossible to complete a week’s grocery shopping by going to one store. Since most of the food in UAE is imported, the supply chain is sometimes broken leaving me without what I consider essentials. Since every other American company is here, where are Publix and Whole Foods?
6) The special and preferential treatment of women provides women with “red carpet” treatment to get through all kinds of queues in Dubai. We are served first, provided our own lines at airports and in government buildings, and there is an abundance of helpful, smiling, ever-present service personnel to assist with the drudgery of daily tasks such as: bag and carry groceries, pump gas, carry packages, change light bulbs, etc. I especially appreciate the gas pumping when it is 107 degrees!!!
5) It's away!!! Foreign countries have always had a magic calling for me, but with four children, I seldom had the opportunity to answer the call. OK, so moving to the other side of the world may have been extreme, but it was the offer on the table. The Internet, Skypeand Magic Jack – when they work –keep us in touch and make it easy to participate and enjoy family drama from a distance.
4) The international experience means In a matter of minutes, you can hear Arabic, English, Urdu, Hindi, Tagalog, Tamil, Sinhalese, French, Italian, German, and some I can’t identify. In addition, you see a vast range of beautiful and striking national dress and learn international body language: the Indian “bobble-head” meaning “no problem, Boss;” the Arab “nose bump” greeting among men; Pakistani men holding hands as a sign of friendship; Muslim men and women constantly re-arranging their attractive head scarves; and the Arabic “swey-swey” brushing of hands to signal you are finished.
3) The fun and excitement of driving Speeding, an accepted UAE sport, is mandatory or you face being run down. Roundabouts are on every little inconsequential street, but nothing compares with the thrill of navigating 6-lane wide National Roundabout at rush hour where you jockey for position with multiple 18-wheelers. Speed bumps are everywhere too-- what a thrill for your car’s brakes and chassis. The good news is that they slow down Roger, whose daily task of survival driving on the Sheikh Zayed Road to Abu Dhabi and back, has turned him into a very aggressive driver. Left turns do not generally exist, providing the opportunity to take the scenic route as you travel miles out of your way to find a u-turn to circle back and make your way.
2) The joy of swiftly making new friends as expats are bound together by the instinct to survive. Friendships are formed very quickly as we help each other navigate and explore the Arabian labyrinth of daily living. The bonus is that everyone has such interesting backgrounds!
1) I am a kept woman My husband has a job and I can’t find one. As my energy level is quite high, I was most nervous about not working and being just a “camp follower.” Happily, I have slipped into a daily rhythm that is fulfilling. My blog has opened the door to a career as a freelance writer, and I can happily say my first article, “Souq Shopping in Dubai,” was recently published infancyzipper.com an online fashion magazine.
OK, all those who are living or have lived in Dubai . . . what I have missed?
Let me know your favorite reasons for loving Dubai!
Postscripts . . .