UAE: A Once Home Away from Home

Saturday Sunset en route to a Catholic Church in Jebel Ali at 5p.m.

For the past few days, I’ve been thinking of how much I miss living in Dubai. A lot of reasons why, but to conclude: it was home away from home.

As I reminisce about it, I tried to look for good landmark photos to hopefully share with you in my succeeding posts.

I looked so hard and realized, there’s almost none! There are, but you know, I might’ve skipped out a few and probably have forgotten from time to time that photos are a good way to immortalize a memory. But this doesn’t mean that I didn’t get to savour what the place had to offer. I just wasn’t able to take a gazillion images.

How the hell did I pass up on capturing the Bellagio-like Dubai Fountain? Oh yes, I had a lousy camera for photos and I wouldn’t watch it in a video anyway.

Why didn’t I take photos of the food display on the must-eat places? Oh, because I wanted to eat!

On which occasion/s did I feel that I have to embrace my being touristy? (a) When I had a friend visiting and I had to join in going around (b) when we went to the very beautiful Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, and (c) during my last few weeks in Dubai.

1402The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Why? Oh… Why?

Here’s the thing, the day after I landed in the desert, I had to go to work immediately. It was an urgent opportunity that I had to leave so soon. I sort of missed the “transition” from “being away from home” to “having another home.” I had to learn where to eat, where to go, and what to do without fully understanding it at that time. No time to be culture shocked. No time to feel sad and homesick (although I felt really bad for not allowing myself and my family–especially my mom to realize that “I’m moving away” for a while). I needed to adapt. Maybe that’s why.

But then I met a great set of friends. Friends who love to eat. Friends who love to watch people. Friends who love to drive at the speed limit. Friends who have a great sense of humor. Friends who are fun. Friends who are weird just like me. And when I met them, I’ve developed a routine away from work. I’ve adjusted, adapted, and became “local” by a culture which is multi-cultured (does that make any sense?). I evolved.

You see, UAE is dominated by expats. Ask anyone, even Google would say so. By nature, it is a Muslim country. On some Emirates, they have strict Muslim laws which they implement beyond your imagination. But in Dubai (and I guess, Abu Dhabi as well), they try to reach out to the world and adjust to cater to tourism. So basically, the dominance of the expats (as a whole) makes the Dubai culture a multi-culture. Something like that.

F1 After-race concert featuring Incubus, which was attended mostly by expats (“foreign-locals”)

So I guess, even though I am not local by birth or by blood, I am local by means of adaptation.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t feel touristy for most of the time that I had lived there (except when I wanted to see the Grande Mosque and wanted to go to Oman).

Another example is how I lived in a city and haven’t been at the top of the tallest building in the world. Some would probably say “what a shame” or “what a waste.” I always say to myself, “maybe next time.” You never know… Maybe that’s how you feel when you live there, that you know “it’s just there”. Like, it’s something common and it isn’t new for me. I appreciate its beauty from down below and even from afar. But at that point, I like how I get to see the gulf area from the airplane rather than paying for it at the top of Burj Khalifa. Now that I am back in the Philippines, I actually don’t regret not going there. Maybe the next time I visit, I would… Or still, maybe not. But I won’t apologize if I say it wasn’t my thing. Different strokes for different folks.

1404The Burj Khalifa as viewed from Meydan area (sorry for the low quality photo)

As I look back, I didn’t realize that the past 3 and half years would pass by so fast.

I may not translate it into the greatest images, but maybe… hopefully, I could share with you the amazing moments of my life living there. A few FYIs even of where to go, what to do, or where to buy booze and stuff. Yes, there is alcohol there (not just in Duty Free).

If there’s a lesson I’ve learned here, is that no matter how “local” you already feel, it is nice to acknowledge that feeling of being a foreigner… it’s like that thought of “being a beginner.” When you see yourself as a beginner, you have endless possibilities. When you see yourself as a foreigner, you allow yourself to have more discoveries. And, you take tons and tons of amazing photos.

For now, I’ll think and reminisce and try to figure out how to share stories and “lessons”(tips/fyi’s, actually!) before it gets outdated. 🙂

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0 thoughts on “UAE: A Once Home Away from Home

    1. oh, i opted not to get a license there (for practicality as well as the convenience of public transpo in my case :)). but, i do miss the not heavily congested roads and the speed limit 😀

  1. Well, at the moment, the heat is unbearable so it’s just as well 😀

    1. I could imagine! It feels like a curse to be outdoors in the desert summer heat! 🙂

      thanks for dropping by! 😀

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