What is Dubai like? The most frequently asked question. For three months I gave everyone that blank stare, that one of “I have no idea, am I in Dubai?” Let’s get one thing straight, moving countries is not like going on holiday or one big sightseeing adventure. Its is an adventure but it’s like having a baby. You have no idea what to do with that new thing you’ve just been handed. Some says, look at the blessing, the opportunity but all that your little brain can think of is how do I get an ID card? Where do we find garden stuff? Where do we go for dental checkups? Should we buy a Fortuner or a Pajero? Which one of the twenty different brands of cheese should I buy? How much will that be in Rands? Are you for real? R80 for that cheese?
Then one day, while running up a hill in Hatta, half dead because of the extra five kilograms around my hips and thighs (due to comfort eating), something in my head just clicked. I’m home, I’ve survived giving up my daytime job, leaving everything familiar behind and moving halfway across the world. I’m okay and finally ready to answer all the questions without that “buck looking into the headlights stare..”
To answer your question, Dubai is cosmopolitan but not in a New York kind of way. Unlike New York it feels more spacious, less rushed. Everything looks and feels new, the transport system and roads keep on expanding to an extent that Waze and GPS’s are unable to keep up. Its an alchemy of races and cultures and the majority of the population consists of expats, only staying for the duration of their work contracts.
Shopping is pretty amazing here. It’s like traveling to the UK, US, Australia and South Africa all in the space of one day, everything you want is underneath the roofs of extravagant shopping malls. Craving a hamburger from Shake Shack or a steak from Butcher’s Grill? Well, it’s all here… and more.. You can snow ski and visit an underwater zoo inside a mall. Exhausted from shopping? No need to go back to your house or hotel, you can just rent a Sleep Pod at the Mall of Dubai and recuperate. Yes, its surreal. It took me three months to get my little brain around this place.
No, I didn’t have to change my entire wardrobe. I still wear mini skirts and off-shoulder tops. But when visiting any government institution I do cover my shoulders and my knees. Every once in a while I do hold my husband’s hand in public and have not been jailed for it. As long as you are respectful of the culture, law and people around you, you can live your life here, like you would in any other country in the world. Yes, you can buy wine and liquor stores are available but you do need a license to purchase alcohol. These licenses are easily accessible. While alcohol is not available in restaurants you can still go and sit down for your favorite cocktail at an
international hotel while looking at landmarks like the Burj Al Arab or Burj Khalifa.
Food, glorious food.. Well, my waistline didn’t expand because of the lack of it. They call it the Dubai Stone. Everyone gains weight but as soon as you realize that you don’t have to buy the chocolates, cheese and meats from all twenty different countries, you slowly but surely drop it again.. Well, that is if you are not South African and not making the best of the winter weather here. To us a Braai is the national meal of Dubai and we certainly make the best of the winter weather. Oh so by the way, it is not 50 degrees Celsius twelve months of the year. Summer is from May to September, the rest of the time we experience the most beautiful weather in the world and on days like today, it’s even raining…
Dubai is different. Dubai has been good to me. Dubai is home. Dubai is my adventure and the story I will get to tell when I’m eighty years old. I’m collecting stories. Many of them..
Promise I’ve broken the silence. I’m back.
Love from my couch in #mydubai
Peach (or Desiree))