The Dubai Effect – Signs You’ve Been In Dubai For Too Long
Indifferent about the 24 hour sunshine and unexcited about skiing in the middle of the desert?
Well, it is possible that you have started taking the Dubai lifestyle for granted.
I have lived in Dubai for 8 years, that’s long enough to realize all the things you love to hate and hate to love.
Here are some signs that you’ve been living in the sandpit for too long…
You celebrate the beginning of winter.
Finally the times when you stay home in the evenings, get bored in the shopping malls or sit indoors at a restaurant and bar are over. Temperatures go down and it’s time for outdoors again. Yay!
You accept that being punctual becomes almost impossible.
Not only that no one cares whether you are on time or not, traffic jams and finding a parking makes if really difficult keeping appointments.
Ordering grocery online or call your shop around the corner for some water or snacks is totally fine.
Sure, you could just go or drive yourself to the shop, but getting lazy and getting things delivered to your door step has just become too easy.
It seems that no one knows how to drive a car or follow traffic rules.
Overtaking from the right, flashing a car in front of you, honking for no reason and cutting cars becomes part of your driving behavior. It’s somehow unavoidable if you want to survive on Dubai’s roads.
Rain or drizzling is a natural wonder and makes people talking about it for days.
Even though over the past years, rain has become more frequent, it still amazes people. Not only that, the city seems to drown in rain, streets are flooded and traffic can come to a complete stand still.
Ordering lunch or dinner online becomes part of your daily routine.
Everyone is in a constant rush and too busy to cook. At least that’s what you keep telling yourself. And ordering food has become so easy with all the apps that are out there. And often it’s even cheaper than cooking your own food.
You expect valet parking everywhere.
It started with the four and five star hotels and now even restaurants, shopping malls and hospitals offer valet parking. You kind of expect to be able to drop your car everywhere and someone else will do the parking for you.
Seeing something green gets you really excited.
Okay, yes Dubai has all this stuff, but they all have been planted there and somehow dont fulfill your longing for nature.
You accept that Dubai is NOT the place to learn proper English.
Even tough everyone speaks English, being confronted with “Sir/Ma’am”, “same same”, “sorry we don’t have” does not really help improving your language skills.
Your food comes from every corner of the world.
Almost everything from fruits, vegetables, meats etc. gets imported. In your kitchen is international -you have apples from New Zealand, potatoes from the US, tomatoes from Holland, grapes from South Africa and meat from Argentina. The downside is that food just does not taste real and authentic.
“Tax free” is just a real good marketing message from the government, but not the reality.
Yes, you dont pay taxes, but there are so many hidden fees and price increases. Whether it is the DEWA housing fee, translation fee for documents, certificate attestation fees or the knowledge fee for traffic fines – costs easily add up and eventually you kind of pay taxes without calling it taxes.
Even though everyone says “Yalla”, nothing seems to be urgent or fast moving.
It is kind of contradicting that “yalla” means hurry up or let’s move. You constantly hear people saying it, but yet everything is very slow and nothing is happening.
Customer Service does not mean helping the customer.
You quickly realize that without raising your voice or speaking to the manager directly, chances are quite high that nothing gets done.
The first week after Ramadan is the hardest.
As an Expat you are probably not looking forward to Ramadan, but still get quickly used to it and appreciate the shorter working hours. Once Ramadan is over you struggle going back to normal, long working hours.
The street that was there yesterday, is no longer there today.
Constant construction, road diversions and road closures are completely normal to you and just one of the reasons why your taxi driver gets lost all the time.
You know where to buy your alcohol even if you dont have a liquor license.
Having an alcohol license is a good idea and can protect you from major trouble. Still many people don’t want to go through the administrative process and costs of getting one. You soon find out that there are couple of liquor shops in the other Emirates where you can easily get alcohol and it’s even much cheaper than the licensed MMI shops.
Asking for discounts becomes your natural behavior.
You soon get used to bargaining and try to get discounts wherever you go. “Do you accept Entertainer voucher?” has been one of your most used phrases when going out.
You learn how to deal with issues caused by bad building construction.
As shiny as your apartment might look from the outside, the quality of most buildings is rather poor. Water pipe leakage, cracks in the walls, sewage issues, dusty or not working air conditioning. At one point you have come across one of those problems.
People from home keep asking you why you are not tanned.
You live in a country of almost year round sunshine, so your friends think you spend all your days at the beach. Your answer has been: “I am sorry, but there is no sunshine in my office. I am not a tourist, I have a job.”
You dont have a proper address.
Street names are almost non-existent. If you are asked for your address you will describe the location by area, landmarks and the building next door. Most people will instantly ask you to share your location via google map.
You realize that the black and white stripes on the road are not a zebra crossing
They just bait to get tourists into the firing line or some kind of artwork. You don’t expect any car to stop for you.
A problem with your car’s air-conditioning is more serious to you than a problem with the brakes.
Air conditioning keeps us alive, especially in a car. If your AC isn’t working in your car during summer, you panic and take a taxi.
You plan your holidays during the summer period and Ramadan.
You start to plan your holidays early in the year, just to be sure to be out of the country by the time the summer heat and humidity kicks in and Ramadan starts. And the colder your holiday destination is, the better.
You gain weight, a lot!
There are days when you take 500 steps at max. Getting around by car is normal, walking in the streets only done by tourists. The most you move on some days is to walk to your car, into the office and back. Plus the beauty of getting meals and grocery delivered.
You loose track of all the new developments and restaurant openings.
Every day there are new hotels, restaurants, bars and even shopping districts, canals and residential areas. The speed of construction is immense and you constantly have couple of new places on your list that you like to try out.
Ladies night has become a fixed appointment in your weekly calendar.
Free drinking nights for ladies, mostly on Tuesday has become an institution in Dubai. Booze is expensive, so why not making use of the free drinking nights?
You expect everything to be open until midnight, 7 days a week.
The long opening hours of shopping malls and supermarkets get you spoiled. You realize it when you get back to Europe and plan to go shopping on a Sunday. Dah!
Large doesn’t impress you anymore.
You become immune to superlatives and wherever you travel in the world, big things won’t get your attention anymore.
You barely do anything yourself.
Hiring a maid to do the cleaning for you, getting a maintenance guy to fix something minor in your apartment, having a nanny looking after your kids, getting your car washed and polished, not leaving your car at the petrol station and having the kind supermarket staff filling your plastic bags.
You can’t become more lazy, can you?
You know that going to the mall on a Friday is not such a good idea.
You avoid shopping on weekends at any cost because you are just not up for wasting your time with looking for a free parking space, the traffic getting to and out of the mall or dealing with the massive crowds.
You still dont speak arabic.
Habibi, yalla and shukran is the most you can handle. Even after months or years in Dubai, you still haven’t managed to learn Arabic, just because you simply don’t need to.