While it was a relief to be back on home ground in the US, in many aspects I missed life in Dubai. This big city is full of rich, vibrant life, and some of the most amazing architecture and technology around. I was working for a major corporation with headquarters in the US, London, and Dubai.
Before you head out to the Middle East you hear a lot of stories, and most of them aren’t positive. But keeping in mind that the US has their own issues too, I packed my suitcase and headed there for six months.
During this time there was a lot to do. While I didn’t need to put overtime into my consulting job, there were plenty of recreational activities. I could hang out in a bar, or catch a film or play, or even go skiing in the summer time! While drinking was discouraged, alcoholic beverages were available at many food and beverage establishments I visited.
The weather was hot there. Fortunately, I had the use of an air conditioned company vehicle. In this city you’ll see many rich people, the middle class, and the poor. I felt sorry for people who were waiting at bus and train stations in the heat.
In Dubai you hear all sorts of stories about women being downtrodden, but I had the opportunity to work with many. Like any other country in the world they were aware of its issues and did their best to improve life there. It’s also important to remember that many laws are similar to the US. I saw a man being chased by police who had been harassing a lady—this type of behaviour is not tolerated here either.
The police aren’t so tolerant of foreigners who have been drinking and cause crimes either. Sometimes it’s safer to have a coffee instead, and leave the drinking to the hotel bar where you don’t have to drive home afterwards.
Also many travellers to Dubai don’t realize that you need a licence in order to drink. You can easily obtain these from any shop that sells alcohol, and they must be presented to the police if they ask. They’re cheap to get and worth an ounce of prevention.
I found it really difficult to judge a shop before entering. Would it be affordably priced for my purposes, or would it be ridiculously high-end? And yes, Dubai is the place for spending $2000 on a piece of underwear.
What I found so disconcerting in Dubai was the high level of customer service that’s expected from every person, from the gas station to restaurant servers and even the reception at some of the businesses I visited. There is a code of social conduct here where you need to exchange pleasantries first. It’s definitely different than much of the rudeness I experienced while living in the US.
A visit to Dubai is recommended for anyone hoping to get away to a nice hot climate, but you’ll be glad when you get back home too.