Best laid plans… I figured I would be kicking around Holland for a while, but opportunity knocked and here I am now in Dubai.
I’m working a much less dangerous (and better paying) gig now, where there is minimal risk of being murdered by gangsters or melted by boiling lava or whatever. Swimming with the sharks now has more to do with wearing shoes that make my feet bleed than anything else.
Going from East Africa to the Netherlands to Dubai has been a trip. This city is shiny and sharp, an oasis of towering skyscrapers in the middle of a desert wasteland, home to the world’s largest malls and the Middle East’s only indoor ski hill, among many other opulent absurdities. Fast food restaurants at the Dubai Mall have waiters and cloth napkins.
It is the Middle East and it isn’t, according to everyone I’ve met in the past couple weeks. It is the most modern and progressive of the Emirates, but also willing to jail a couple of expats for going way too far in a taxi. (Although to be fair, they probably would have been thrown in jail if they’d tried that in North America. This is why we don’t get blackout at 11 am.) Common-law relationships are also illegal here, which is a downer for many. Ahem.
I haven’t been here long enough, but from what I’ve seen: Dubai is all about money and image, three-piece suits and fast cars and $30 cocktails and five-star everything. The Emirate was hit hard by the global financial crisis in 2009, but appears to be rebounding now. Coming to this city with a background in being a broke-ass freelancer is a little boggling. But interesting of course, and notable because it’s my first time living in the Middle East.
Also, today is National Day, so everyone is going bananas with the red, black, green and white pride. I caught these guys putting on a show in the Business Village, and it was adorable: