It’s like living in a bubble.
There are a lot of things Dubai has done right. My first vote goes to Tolerant nature of the city. Over the weekend I was at a rock festival that started sometime during the evening. In the middle of one of the performances, theAdhaan (Muslim call for prayer) went off. The performers looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and said they will return after 10 minutes, after a prayer break. Not that any of them left to pray. They paused in respect for the prayer-call. You’ll find clubs on the same stretch of the road as mosques. Which road you want to take is totally up to you.
Open culture: You could go to the beach in this:
or in this:
No one will blink twice. Yes, they do ask you to be mindful of their culture (we’ve seen beachwear in malls), but unless you’re having sex in the back of a cab or on a public beach, you’ll not be arrested for public indecency. But I believe those laws apply elsewhere too. The general environment is that to “live and let live”.
Safe: As mentioned hereand here Dubai is relatively safe. . Most people have had little to no personal experience with crime. Which isn’t saying crime doesn’t exists. It’s saying you have to go out and find it.
Telecom & E services: I don’t know if that’s a normal thing to be in love with. But as a resident, 95% of anything and everything I want to do can be done with a click. That makes my life that much easier to live. Most of the government services are online and fairly easy to access. And despite there being a telecom duopoly – ultimately owned by the government – connectivity is great.
I could write pages on what’s great about living in Dubai. I’ve lived here over the last 7 years and consider it my second home. As do most people. It needs to be underscored though – Dubai is a transient place. You come, you stay, you leave. At no point should you ever have the illusion of making this country or city your permanent home. It isn’t.
Social clusters: Despite there being 200 nationalities living in UAE, the norm is to stick with your own kind. Which makes the place – rather, pretty much the entire GCC region, very cliquish, and subtly speaking, “racially aware“.
I have met western expatriates who’ve lived here for many, many years, who claim they have never interacted with a “local”. To some extent, it’s because outside of workspace Emiratis will not mingle with expatriates. To a large extent, Emiratis don’t care much for expatriates who come and live in their country, and whinge about it. And there is A LOT of whinging.
To an even greater extent, it’s because most people will make no effort to reach out to what is an increasingly shrinking local population. In 2006, Emiratis were 18% of UAE’s population; in 2012, they are 11%. In order to communicate with people, Emiraties speak 2-3 languages; predominantly English and Urdu. Understandably, there’s a certain level of frustration in having to go out and speaking in a foreign language to be understood – within their own country.
Driving conditions; As of 2010, “the UAE had the highest death rate at 615 per 100,000″ – the average age for death from road injury is 35. As of 2010, 1,838 people died from road injuries “accounting for 14 per cent of all deaths”. Translated, this means driving conditions in UAE are bad. The road infrastructure is – no pun intended – to die for.
Fantastic roads, fast cars and young drivers have proven to be a lethal mix. It is perhaps the most avoidable cause of deaths among Emiratis and expatriates alike. I mention this point here as it’s one of the metrics the government has worked very hard to correct, but while things have improved there is a long way to go.
Dubai road laws broken 5,000 times a day on average as death toll mounts
Statistically, your car will be involved in an accident during the first year of your driving. Insurance premiums, therefore, for new license holders are higher.
Obesity and health issues: Dubai is hot 4 months of the year, and hotter in the remaining 8 months. Most of the entertainment is indoors, in malls. There’s a ski-slope, a world class ice-rink, go-karting facilities etc, all indoors, in artificially regulated environments. The primary mode of transportation is cars. A majority of people work 9-5 jobs, spend hours in the cars commuting, and if entertainment is due, they go out to eat.
The lifestyle is generally not conducive to outdoor physical activity. That isn’t saying people don’t do it. Some do – that’s an exception and not a norm.
When expats first move to Dubai they have to adjust to a new culture, lifestyle and diet. And from the moment a ‘newbie’ touches down in the emirate, they put themselves at risk of gaining the dreaded Dubai stone – 7kg of pure fat from living the good life, overeating and getting very little exercise.
On ground, according to reports 1 out of 3 children are overweight or obese, due to the fast food culture. In many cases with both parents working, the first thing to be neglected is food, with fast/junk food / take out being readily available, resulting in weight gain and associated health issues. It requires conscious effort to remain healthy.
There’s something surreal about Dubai. It paints a picture of perfection, blemish free. You can easily overlook a lot of things, and fall into a trap of believing in perfection; develop a sense of entitlement. You can easily overlook a lot of issues that in any other country would consistently gnaw at the back of your mind. I guess one has to live here to know what I’m talking about. But Dubai – or even UAE, have come a long way over the last few years, and are continuously working for improvement. While there may be a long way to go, a lot of labour laws have been implemented to protect the labourers, including a wages protection system (that ensures salaries are paid on time, which previously would be held for as long as six months), and a ban on working from noon to 4 pm, when the sun is at its scorching peak. It’s not everything