One thousand, one hundred and ten days ago today, (it was a Friday) I upheaved my life and took it to Dubai. I cried mascara tears on the shoulder of my mum’s brand new white t-shirt as she told me, “I’m only going to say this once, but it’s not too late to change your mind if you don’t want to go.”
I didn’t change my mind. I got on the plane, and it roared off to the sandpit where I landed to the culture shock of my life. I hadn’t Googled Dubai beforehand, let alone visited the place for fear of changing my mind. So, when I was dropped off at a hovel of an apartment (there wasn’t even a road let alone streetlights, however there were some welcoming cockroaches!) in Al Quasais, it was a bit of a surprise, and I do not mean a pleasant one.
Thankfully, fast forward to three years later, I am very aware of the differences between the two Burj’s and I am quite Dubai savvy. I can tell you the timings of the fountains, where to go for ladies night and the entry cost of Aquaventure.
Being stuck for ideas on what to write my next blog about, one of my friends suggested writing a post about how Dubai has changed us as people. I thought about it, and after some consideration, I felt that it actually ties in quite nicely with my one thousand, one hundred and tenth day of living my life here.
So, the question is, how much can one person change within one thousand, one hundred and ten days? I reckon, quite a lot.
Dubai kind of raises your expectations in terms of what to expect when you go places from the moment you arrive in the airport. For starters, the airport is lined with indoor palm trees draped in twinkly fairy lights, but moving on to the airport’s public toilets. When I think of public transport toilets at home, I immediately associate them with those blue lights that act as junkie deterrents. You know the ones that they have in Train Stations? I have yet to find a blue lit toilet in Dubai – obviously because there are no junkies here. Even Pizza Hut in Glasgow has blue lighting in their toilets!!! Seldom do bathrooms here run out of toilet roll either – not even in the night clubs. I’m sure all you ladies can relate to the trauma of having to drip dry (ew) because the club’s bathroom has run out of toilet roll… There is absolutely nothing worse! And it’s so common at home. Over here, this situation is practically unheard of thanks to the 24/7 bathroom attendant looking after the place. Bathrooms here smell so nice compared to the stench of stale urine everywhere else. At home, I find myself being disgusted at a lot of public bathrooms, thus turning me into a toilet snob. Change #1.
Change #2 is the expectations of service levels. This is probably the most major one. Talking about which beach club to visit on the weekend (I sound stuck up merely typing it) is a topic that crops up amongst my friends on a weekly basis. Beach clubs here consist of fluffy towels that a man sets down for you on comfy loungers. Later on, someone else brings rounds of cold refreshing towels and fruit skewers. If I think back to when I used to go to the swimming pool at home, I get flashbacks to seeing an Elastoplast floating past during a swim in the adult pool and I still feel disgusted by the memory. There’s no fluffy towels unless you remember to bring one from home, and there’s certainly no fruit. Even in the gyms here – we expect free chilled water bottles, clean towels and free apples because that’s just what every gym offers! At home, on the days where I’d forget to bring a water bottle, I’d curse myself for having to shell out three quid on water from the vending machine. Some restaurants here, even offer you a little stool or basket to put your designer handbag in, God forbid it should touch the floor!
Using taxis like a bus is also another change. When I said this to one friend, she said, “Well I always use taxis because there’s not really any other way to get around in Dubai.” When I reminded her that there are in fact buses in Dubai, it’s just that we have never yet used them, she replied, “…oh yeah. I suppose you’re right.” Of course I am right! You can’t have a city this large with no public transportation system. There is a metro which I often use, but I couldn’t even tell you where to start when it comes to buses in Dubai. Very ironic considering I could recite the number 9 bus route and time-table in my sleep when I was living in Glasgow. The taxis here are just so cheap compared to home. You’d never in a million years be able to justify traveling everywhere by taxi in the U.K. In Dubai however, it just works. That’s definitely change #3.
Change #4 is the expectation of everything NOW. We were discussing the days when back home, it’d be late at night and you’d be starving, or maybe you’d be so hungover but still over the limit and unable to drive. Instead, you’d have to haul yourself out of bed and make some hangover scran from whatever remnants were lurking in your fridge. Stale bread and cheese toasties anyone? That’s not a problem here because literally everywhere delivers. The supermarket underneath my building even delivers. I am not proud to admit, that out of sheer laziness to get dressed, and take the elevator down 19 floors, taking me a grand total of three minutes from home to supermarket, I have had milk etc delivered. Even McDonalds deliver – great news for anyone who is suffering from a hangover. I recall the days of having to walk for 25 minutes to the nearest Morrison’s to get bread and Milk.
One night last Christmas, home alone, I decided to order myself a Chinese takeaway for dinner. I called the Chinese at 10:11pm and they were CLOSED. I couldn’t believe it! I was in genuine shock – it wasn’t even that late. Instead, I had cereal for dinner. If this doesn’t prove how pampered we have come to be in Dubai, then I don’t know what does.
To say that Dubai gets a bit too convenient at times is a mild understatement. There’s a coffee shop tempting you on literally every single corner and flagging a taxi instead of taking a fifteen minute walk in the sweltering heat is way too easy – except at 4pm when it’s time for the drivers to change shift (good luck with catching a taxi then). You become one of these twats, trundling along, waving frantically with your free arm, while the other one clutches at an elaborate coffee purchased from one of the million coffee shops, and your realize that while you’re wearing sunglasses the size of a small American state that you might be suffering from an affluent, affliction that we shall nickname DD – you have turned into a Dubai Dick.
But for every Dubai Dick moment, I have plenty of grounding moments too. Like the time my mum gave me a row for snapping at a taxi driver (in my defense; I asked him several times if he knew the way, which he said he did and it later transpired that he didn’t. Regardless, she was right. I was rude to him and I am ashamed to admit that). I’m just as happy to go to the council run gym when I’m at home, (when I remember to bring a water bottle) and I actually look forward to going to supersized Tesco with all its lovely fresh U.K. food. Trains and buses are so simple to work so you rarely need to get a taxi. And finally, at the end of the day, I am so grateful to the bathroom attendants, cleaners, taxi drivers and people who do offer amazing customer service here, because surrounded by all these Dubai Dicks, those people deserve medals.
But if you do find yourself being a Dubai Dick, and throwing a tantrum that’d rival that of a petulant two year old, just stop for a minute and ask yourself what your mum would think of your behaviour, because guaranteed, she did not bring you up to act like that, and if that doesn’t rein you in, then maybe you’re just a Dick after all, Dubai or no Dubai.