As unbelievable as it might sound to me, I am celebrating 12 years of living and working in Dubai. As many of Dubai’s expats, I came to the city for a temporary work assignment – in my case a 6 months AIESEC traineeship with DHL UAE, back in 2005.
Needless to say that I ended up staying a “little bit” longer.
So, on this special day, and at a time in which it feels that there is always something to complain about, I thought I would take some time to think and appreciate what makes me love Dubai so much:
1. Multicultural Environment
To live in a place where you have such a mix of nationalities and cultures has to be one of the greatest advantages of living and working in Dubai. Very few other places in the world have such a diversity of cultures and faiths all living peacefully in one spot.
To be able to socialize and work with so many different cultures has definitely been a great experience – it has opened my eyes to a lot of media stereotypes about the region and helped me see different sides of the story that one never gets to see on the news.
2. Professional Growth
Dubai’s growth and ambition means that the city is in constant evolution and the same applies to its corporate environment. There are job opportunities arising every day and, even though it got tougher after the crisis, the job market is still more dynamic than in other places of the world.
Dubai has provided me with extraordinary professional opportunities which have allowed me to grow as a professional and to learn more than I could have ever imagined in such a short space of time. A big thank you to my amazing managers at DHL and Interface, who shaped me to be the professional I am today and with whom I learned so much.
I never felt limited by my gender, my age or by whom I know.
3. Social Life
I used to joke with my friends back home that there is a hotel or a restaurant opening somewhere in town every single day and I’m probably not that far from the truth! The city is always buzzing with new places to go and visit.
The fact that the majority of the residents are expats and probably away from their families, also means that people spend more time socializing and getting to know each other. I have made friends for life in Dubai that have become my family away from home. Even if some of us end up in opposite corners of the world, the bond is real.
It probably also makes sense to mention that I met my amazing husband in Dubai 😉
4. Travel Hub
For a travel junkie like me, who has visited more than 60 countries, Dubai couldn’t be a better place to be! 7 hours flight and you can be in Thailand or Munich, you choose!
Also, Middle Eastern countries are simply fantastic places to visit, full of history and delightful hospitality.
Even if Syria is off limits nowadays, there is still Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, etc – all just wonderful places to be discovered! And without the thousands of tourists (like in other places in Europe), you easily feel like an adventure explorer!
On another hand, regional airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways and low budget airlines like fly Dubai and Air Arabia offer superb service and value for money, connecting you to almost anywhere in the world.
I’m still amazed by the diversity of restaurants available in town and I’m not only talking about all the 5*star hotel options. It really feels that you can try almost any cuisine in the world in Dubai. Korean, Thai, Brazilian, Zanzibari, Kenyan, Indian, you name it and I can probably find you a restaurant in Dubai where it is served. We are still missing out on a proper Portuguese restaurant, but hey, we have Alma 560 Café and its delicious Pasteis de Nata. Do check them out at Gold & Diamond Park if you are ever close by! You can thank me later :).
6. Holidays all year round
One of the coolest things about living in Dubai is the fact that you have always had the beach so close (especially if you are a ‘beach bum’ like me). It literally makes you feel like you are on holidays every single weekend! And even if it might get too hot to stay outside during the Summer, we do get 9 months of great outdoor temperatures that would make any European country very jealous.
7. City Life
In my first couple of years, the cultural offerings and alternatives to the beach or the malls were very limited. But, now, there is so much more to do! We have the amazing Opera House; brand new Entertainment Parks; great concerts (as the big names are now super excited to add Dubai to their tours); Al Serkal and its quirky galleries and stores, … the list goes on.
I’m also lucky to have found great sports communities in Dubai. Have you ever heard about Dragon Boating? Well, I hadn’t, but now I can’t live without it and my awesome team, Barracudas. Btw, we are recruiting new members, in case you are interested!
8. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed
It takes a lot of Vision and determination to transform Dubai into the city that it is today and one can only admire Sheikh Mohammed and his father for the amazing work that they have done and all that is still being planned. In a world full of corruption and lack of trust in governmental powers, it is so refreshing to see someone in power who doesn’t take it for granted and uses it to take care of its citizens.
It might be difficult to the world outside to understand, but Dubai is a beacon of hope – a real demonstration on how different cultures and religions can live together peacefully, in harmony, respecting each other, with tolerance for one another. And that is definitely not an easy achievement.
I am sure that different people have different experiences and I am not in any way saying that it is all perfect (if someone knows a perfect place, let me know!) but after 12 years I can definitely appreciate the great things about this city and what makes me happy about calling Dubai my home!
And what about you? What do you love about Dubai?
Let’s celebrate it together!