I’m nearing the end of my fourth year in Dubai and here a few observations about what the city does to you, or more accurately, what it has done to me.
In my first year, I was mostly at home freelancing and had not entered into life in the city as yet. But now, a few years into a steady job, Alhamdulillah, as they say here, I’ve fallen into the rhythms and pace of Dubai.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed:
- Your appearance becomes much more important, especially if you’re already careful about it. It becomes next to impossible to step out of the home without some makeup on. I never owned a hair iron and fussed much less about chipped nails when I lived in India. Salon blow drys and Gelish appointments are still not routine as far as I’m concerned but I will plump for them if I’ve got an event coming up. However, if I start using false eyelashes, I know I will need an intervention.
- You’ll order in a lot more. Maybe this is just me and from working with significantly younger people, who generally don’t seem to cook. And also because I get lazy every now and then.
- Everyone owns an iPhone. About 10.5 people own an android device of some sort. You were once one of those people, and you now think of the old you with distant affection.
- Your wardrobe will become 70% black or 70% white, depending on which way you lean.
- You’ll start to suffer from serious weekend FOMO. Come Wednesday and everyone starts throwing out ridiculously exotic plans, one fancier than the other. Staycation! Champagne brunch! Skydiving! Sorry, lunch at the mall just won’t cut it.
- Talking of which, everyone will moan about how much they hate going to the mall. This, after spending a whole day at the mall.
- If you socialize, you’ll scour Groupon or Beam or Entertainer or just about anything that offers you deals. You’ll take great pride in whatever discounts you score there.
- You’ll get to sample cuisines from different cultures, not just from restaurants but if you’re lucky, your colleagues’ lunch boxes.
- And when it comes to restaurants yes, Dubai has one for every cuisine, but quite a few of these do still feel generic and blah.
- You’ll start to pepper your conversation with Yalla, Inshallah, Alhamdulillah (see above) and habibi even though you know no Arabic whatsoever.
- You’ll hear people around you moan about culture, lack thereof, and wonder why they don’t do their research and make an effort to look beyond the gloss.
- As a woman, you’ll appreciate that men don’t lech at you the way they do in parts of India. I’m afraid to jinx it but I have to say you’ll feel safer here as a woman than in many other places.
- At some point, you’ll go on a yacht cruise around the Marina and even a stretch limo ride at midnight.
- You’ll be amused by friends raised in the city who scream at the sight of a moth or fly.
- You won’t be able to deal with dirty bathrooms or broken pavements ever again. Nope. Nuh huh.
As you can see, this is quite a silly little list, and quite a few things are missing from it – the ubiquitous Friday brunches and Tuesday’s ladies’ nights for instance as I’m not qualified to talk about those at all. Nor can I speak to the coffee habits or exercise fads that grip the city. A friend once likened Dubai to Disneyland and that comparison is quite apt as life runs so smoothly here. While we’re constantly reminded of how ephemeral it all is, we tend to suspend thought and simply go with the flow.