Well hey there friends! Thought I’d pop on here and share a few of my personal observations about living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at almost one month in.
SO MUCH IS FAMILIAR
When I say this, I mean, life here is very much like life in both Houston, Texas or Calgary, Alberta (my previous hometowns). Everyone here drives on the same side and the rules of the road are what I’m used to, so I find that a relief!
Almost everyone here speaks English, so no language barrier to overcome (aside from some thick accents; but you can get that pretty much anywhere).
Fast food restaurants are almost all the same. Craving McDonalds? No prob. Tim Horton’s is just as popular, if not MORE popular than Starbucks. KFC is a big one, which surprised me since it’s probably been 10 years since I considered that an option.
There are uncountable numbers of taxi’s, Uber’s and Careem’s, so you will never have a problem getting a ride to where you need to go!
It’s hot and humid, no DOUBT! Thank goodness we had almost 7 years in Houston to experience, what we thought, was extreme heat and humidity. NOPE. Scratch that. THIS place has extreme heat and humidity.
SO MUCH IS IMPRESSIVE
For a city of around 3 million people, this place is so clean you could eat off the ground! No, seriously, in a land where almost everyone I see smokes, you won’t find a cigarette butt on the sidewalk! No trash anywhere. It’s awesome.
The Malls open at 10am; but to my surprise, they are always open til midnight or 1AM! Not just for a holiday weekend, Black Friday or special sale weekends! Nope. You can shop til you drop basically any night of the week. And restaurants are the same!
Public intoxication / drinking and driving is an absolute no-no here and I LOVE this. Nobody drives if they are going to have a drink with dinner. As mentioned above, you have plenty of options for a ride home. Hotels and certain licensed restaurants are the only places you can purchase alcoholic beverages here, and there are always plenty of Ubers / Careem’s waiting to get you home safely.
There are security guards everywhere. In the malls, on the streets, in the parkades, they just seem to be everywhere and there is an overwhelming sense of safety here. Everyone feels it from the locals to the expats. Dubai is SAFE.
EVERYONE here is connected online. We walk through the mall, down the street, out to our car from a restaurant and people are either chatting with someone online, listening to music or a podcast with their ear buds, or on some type of social media platform!
Everything in Dubai is the “biggest / tallest / best” in the world. NO shortage of buildings, structures, restaurants or malls that will blow your mind.
SO MUCH TO TAKE IN
There is a whole lot of “shiny” in Dubai. Whatever material item is your weakness, they have it here, in multiples! Cars….which one do you want? Super high end designer boutiques? You name it, it’s here. I. AM. DYING.
Layers and layers of high rise apartments and office buildings, and I’ve just seen one part of the city! They are everywhere. And they aren’t boring to look at!! No way…there are shiny ones, crazy tall ones, rounded ones and even one that is twisted! I mean, they use ALL THE engineering skills to create buildings that are functional; but also a work of art. Amazing.
Construction EVERYWHERE! The World Expo 2020 is being held in Dubai so they want this place looking SHARP!
Let’s just say, if you can dream it up, you can do it in Dubai. Not even joking a little bit!
STILL OH SO NEW
I drove to school a couple of times when Kent had to make a trip out of town last week. I might as well have climbed Mt. Everest, I was THAT thrilled. Sounds a little sad; but when I am navigating up to 8 lanes of traffic just on my side of the road, and exiting in all the right places all 5 times I have to do this, it’s a big deal. And every other new expat wife high fived me when I told them! Granted that’s the only route I’ve driven; but just give me a minute ok!
The currency is very different, and I can’t stop thinking in US dollars.
The work and school week is Sunday to Thursday. I bet that confuses me for a few more weeks for sure.
When I get up to start a new day, my friends and family back in North America are JUST finishing the previous day. So weird!
Gas stations are few and far between. Which has me scratching my head! Why? There are a zillion cars on the roads, why is it so tricky to find out where to fill up?!
Just so much to explore and look forward to, we will never be out of things to do or see in this city!
BUT WE ARE TAKING IT ONE DAY AT A TIME
We can’t get that “settled” feeling just yet. When you move to another country, there are a number of steps, processes, papers filed and hoops you need to jump through to be an official resident. You can’t get out of the “temporary life” phase, until you are a resident. Every single thing you do, is tied to that residency card, and we don’t have ours yet.
It’s nobody’s fault, it should happen faster; but when we arrived back on August 15, it was just before the city celebrated Eid. A weeklong break to acknowledge this Muslim celebration, so no government offices were open. Then shortly after that, Kent had to travel and needed his passport with him to complete the work trip. So now that its all done, we look forward to the process to move along pretty smoothly! Wish us luck.
Once that is done, we can look for places to rent and call “home” for our time here. We can arrange for Zuri, our mini horse / dog to join us, get vehicles ( I am literally Careem-ing EVERYWHERE right now, including to the school to drop the kids off, and pick up, every day) and finally, FINALLY, get our belongings OUT of Houston and on the boat to get over here!
For now we live in a very comfortable and conveniently located apartment on the Marina, so we are NOT complaining. We do, however, look forward to looking for, and finding a place for us. And honestly, sleeping in our own bed. We haven’t since August 5th…..
WHAT’S TO COME
Well, that’s to be determined! Devon is into the Rugby season so that will fill 2-3 days a week. Sophia is STILL gung ho and determined to play Softball so Dubai Little League it is! Also, 2-3 days a week. Kent’s new role will likely have him travelling once a month, so I’m going to have to man up and figure out how to navigate this place all on my own REAL quick!
Oh, and word on the street is that Spring like weather hits Dubai about end of October through to February / March. There might even be some days in there where I can wear a sweater! So definately on board for that and hope it’s all true! haha!
New friends. We’ve already been so fortunate to have been invited to spend time with 2-3 new families we have met, and I’ve got at least 5-6 ladies I am texting / WhatsApping with on a regular basis. Some new to here like us, some not so new. All wonderful people, and since God has been so present in this new season of our lives from the start, I am certain He is putting us on a path for an amazing experience here in Dubai.
I can’t put my head down, or bury it in the sand (no pun intended!) for a minute, in case I miss something He meant for me and my family to see, or be a part of.
I miss my family and I miss my friends. The ones who, when my world started spinning fast enough to make my knees buckle, they grabbed me by the arm, or the waist, or whatever else might have worked, to keep me standing. Every once in a while, in this crazy busy life, when you look back on those times and wonder how you got through, then realized some pretty loyal, protective and loving humans got you there. That’s when hindsight, or a look back, can actually give you the shutzpah (don’t you just love that word?) to make the next step forward feel not so scary.
All righty then! One month down, 35 to go and we have TOTALLY got this!!!
Stay tuned friends!! Hopefully we have a whole lot more to share about the Meyer’s Going Global – Dubai Edition!
PS, photo credit to @breepair. And funny enough, this photo was taken at Momentum Coffee outside of Houston earlier this year….not here in the UAE; BUT, I still look the same so that’s super.