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 . . .
Blog contributors   I want to acknowledge the insightful contributions to this blog made by some dear friends:  Catherine Watkins, Veronique Davidson, Wafa Al Hamed, Trevor &Kristy Ibbotson, Francine Soltani, Rawan Albina and Diana Mullin.

41 comments:

  1. Hi Katie,
    What a great list. One of my favorites that you missed is full moon drumming in the Arabian desert under a clear sky full of stars (which you can see in all their glory as you're far away from the lights of the city)! My least favorite is the drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi...what a frightening video, but we've all experienced it.

    Thanks again for a wonderful blog post!
    Cheers,
    Anne

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  2. One Katie trait that I love dearly is that you make the very most of every opportunity (and challenge) sent your way. You are amazing! Susan

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  3. Ah . . Full moon drumming is on the list . .spoke with them a few weeks ago and we are going to wait until it is cooler so we can camp in the desert that night!! Want to join us??

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  4. Katie - Great stuff as always! You are brave - I opt for drivers in the Middle East. Hey, I think you could make a business out of exporting the fabulous peacock scarves - if only we could get the shipping below $200! Best, JP

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  5. I want to drum with you ! I agree it is a fun lovely evening in the desert. I will see you when is coooooler

    Wendy

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  6. I love the fact that every basic supermarket has more exotic foods than the best deli back home! When I was back in Scotland recently I was both horrified and amused that I had to look in the "exotic foods" aisle for chick peas in the local supermarket in Helensburgh!

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  7. It just goes to prove that it is all relative. I am certain if I was shopping in Helensburgh I would have to look in the "exotic foods" aisle to find some of my American favorites! It just keeps us on our toes.

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  8. There's nothing like taking the small boat on the waterway downtown Dubai, or going down a oneway highway and having a car coming at you because they didn't want to go that long way to take the turnaround, or when they drive at night without lights to save on the battery or lights, never did figure that one out. Brooke Seward Weed

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  9. Within three months of living in Dubai I decided that "there are no straight lines in Dubai" . . . many things are not rational according to the "western mindset" but then again, it is part of the "exotic" culture in which we are now living. Just keep saying to yourself "twanikam" (Toto we are not in Kansas anymore) and keep alert at all times!

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  10. Hi Katie,
    Found This Article Really Helpful For Ma Essay On Dubai. :P

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  11. Glad it was helpful. Would love to read your essay. Send it my way katiefoster46@gmail.com

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  12. This is really helpful! You sucked me in right away by starting with burger king delivery! And following their prayer times is very cool of you.

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  14. my husband is getting out of the (US) army soon and is looking for jobs in the UAE. I'm all for adventure but my kids are so very young, 1,2&4. Are we crazy? o mentioned you had kids so i wonder, would you have done this when you were a young mother? knowing then what you know now about living there? Everything i've read says its great and safe but my biggest concern is my daughter starting school and choosing the right place to live for that reason. any incite would be helpful!

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    1. The people I know who have their children here all say what an incredible experience they are having. Friends from all over the world, opportunities for travel to countries they never dreamed of and developing a very rounded view of the world. Schooling is a concern and expensive but I haven't heard anyone say they were unhappy with the education - though they choose their (private) school very carefully. If I had the opportunity to do this when my children were young I would have jumped at the chance.

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  16. I believe the best place to work is Dubai barring the weather everything else is fantastic. No taxes to be paid is icing on the cake for sure and it's a very clean city had been there thrice or so when i was young but would love to work there shortly as i 'm in the procees of aplying to aIT compnay in Dubai. The info provided to me
    was fabulous if you wish to work in Dubai get this book undeer you belly.
    Visit :
    http://www.qroacker.com/dubaijobsecrets

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  18. Camel ride is very amazing and enjoyable thing to di in Dubai Desert Safari trip.

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  19. Eissa M. AL RomaithiTue Apr 02, 11:18:00 AM 2013

    all because of H.H Shaikh Khalifah Bin Zayed "president Of UAE" and H.H Shaikh Mohamed Bin Rashed "Vice President Of UAE" and H.H Shaikh Mohamed Bin Zayed "Crown Prince Court Of Abu-Dhabi", the reason i'm writing this is that they really did makes us proud by putting our country name in the World Map.

    some my say that we have "Oil" but i strongly disagree, the reason been is that Saudi Arabian "KSA" has Oil more that we us do, but if you visit a lot of city-side places in Saudi you will find that the devoloping prossce is not really the same as the UAE.
    Second reason is that the country and the royal family their most important thing they think of is how to make the UAE Socity More and More Happy.

    I do respect all people I talked about in this comment and i hope people all over the world will visit UAE and they are most welcome to my humble country Hope you enjoies the stay in UAE ... :)


    PS: Not all people in Qatra and Kandoorah "traditional dress" are Emirates .. :)

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    1. Thanks for clarifying the "traditional dress" questions. I have often wondered if everyone who dressed like that were Emirati. You, and us too, are blessed to have rulers who have such generous spirits.

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  20. Hi Katie. Helpful and really good essay. Did u visit The Burj Khalifa and had a chance to look at the dancing fountain in the Dubai Mall. This is one of my favourites. Sara

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    1. I love taking people to the Burj Khalifa. It is such a great way to get a feel for the breath of the city. The fountains are always on our list too for guests - great way to enjoy a good meal with great entertainment! Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  21. Dubai is a unique destination that is both a dynamic business,center and a tourist paradise, offering more attractions, shopping, fine dining and quality hotels. Dubai is really a place for tourists and for career seekers.


    property shop

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  22. What advice would you have for a single, 30 year old American female considering moving to Dubai to work for Emirates Airline? I am all for traveling and experiencing new cultures. However, kind of scared to go there alone.

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    1. Just do it! Dubai and the UAE have a wealth of opportunities for young people. Just take the normal precautions you would take in any major international city. If you like I can put you in touch with a friend who lives in Dubai and is cabin crew. email me katiefoster46@gmail.com

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  23. Wonderful, just what a blog it is! This blog has provided the helpful data to us continue the good work.

    online electronics shopping in uae

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  24. We went on the Dolphin Encounter as I am not confident in deep water. The whole experience was amazing as we met new people, lots of time spent with your dolphin and many photo opportunities. Photos are expensive to buy but are a lovely reminder of the day. For me I met my lovely man there ;)
    http://www.globogirls.com/place/64-Dubai

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  25. I love this! My husband and I have been talking about moving over there. He is being offered a job, and by the way things are looking like in the military, he might have to separate 2 years shy of being able to retire. What I am most nervous about is how my children will grow up there. My daughter is three at the moment and in the German kindergarten. She is speaking English, Spanisg, and now learning German. Are there any schools for American children over there? Or any montessori? I wouldn't mind putting her in a local school but I am not sure if she will be allowed to attend.
    And, like you, I am always on the go! Especially with projects! I currently have a small business and I am nervous I will have to close my online shop due to shipping costs and what not.
    But thank you for this blog! I can't for the next step in my family's life!

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  26. If you want to contact me personally please feel free to do so . . katiefoster46@gmail.com
    Welcome to Dubai!

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  28. Wow wasn't aware even Buger King delivered! What a great way to feel totally spoilt :)

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  33. Still, if you drive a couple miles out of the city, there’s sand as far as the eye can see and people living traditionally, as if the city doesn't even exist.

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