One of the things that outright struck me about Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and something that will strike yourselves is the sheer size. I mean, yes there is the all knowing and powerful Burj Khalifah, but I’m talking about everything else. I come from Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa, we have big things. Huge mountains, and tall Sky Scrappers, we have the biggest Shopping Mall in the Southern Hemisphere , Gateway Shopping Mall, but there are places for them.
You go into the center of town, or the middle of the city to be in “that” atmosphere. Unless you live in a seriously rich neighborhood, there’s about 0.2% chance, when you open your windows in the morning, you’ll be looking at The Burj Al Arab.
Residential area’s are for homes, big, small, colorful, non colorful, but they’re for the people. The kids playing in the streets, people riding their bicycles around. There are a few smaller shopping centers in every neighborhood or suburban environment, somewhere you can buy food, maybe see a doctor, pick up a T-Shirt or go for lunch. You can not go Snow Boarding, down the road. So upon arriving in the United Arab Emirates, I was hit with a sudden shrinking feeling. The famed Sheikh Zayed Road is no laughing matter. I don’t know if its because the road is lined with these towering buildings on either side, or because these buildings are both Business and Residential. It’s almost surreal? I felt as though, I was always walking around with giants. You cant escape them, unless you’re spending some time soaking up the sun, and drinking cocktails on the Island. Every time you go to the shop, every time you open a curtain, BOOM!!! City-life at your doorstep.
Dont get me wrong there are some INSANE Architectural pieces in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Below are some of the buildings that had me saying: #Thisiswhywecanlandonacomet Bling Bling Ka-Ching, Hope you brought your shades! *Click to Enlarge Album*
In a sense I know I have seen some of the most iconic and Award Winning Buildings in the World. On the other hand its something that always bugged me when I lived in the UAE. This was it. Yes, there are islands and hotels with fake palm trees, but this is about as great as it got for me. I was working 6 days a week, and so my 1 off day was either spent sleeping, or rush-touring through the two cities.
I would love to return to the UAE and be able to actually tour some of these Hotels and Buildings form the inside. Id love to be able to find the little secret and story that each hold deep within their pillars and beams. There are islands, and resorts and souks I have yet to indulge in. There are street markets, I have yet to uncover. And while, Part 2 of this story will be about my living experience as an expat in The UAE, this should at least give you an idea of what you’re going into. Fact is, it is Bling, Bling Ka Ching all the time. 24/7. It is a self made, City of Gold and sparkling lights and buildings that touch the clouds. This is what people go to Dubai for, living in Dubai is something else. It’s a place where you take up hobbies, around 21h00 at night. A place where you indulge in every kind of food you can think of, because its readily available on every corner. You live in air-con 98% of your time, and your avoid driving yourself when possible. As a way of life, you’re either in or you’re out.
In regards to Business, or Career Development? There is no better place to be. But this is why we do what we do. This is why we are compelled by passion, and love and craving deep within our souls to travel. To explore, adventure. I did have some amazing times, there are memories so fresh in my mind, I would believe they happened yesterday if you told me.
Times in The UAE that make me think? Why did I leave? When can I go back? I’ll be writing about these times in Part 2. Something though must be said for infrastructure. While these beautiful buildings lay the lands, there are just as many projects, half finished, or standing in a haltered limbo. Everywhere you look there are half bricked up houses and towers, cranes being left to corrode in the sand. There are as many builders employed by the cities as any other expat profession. The buildings you see above, are the ones that made it. Often people don’t realize that there is a “unspoken” Architectural rivalry between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and that their history goes many moons back, before the Boom. The game of Mine is Bigger than Yours clearly evident around the cities. Concepts are stolen, and then revamped and mimicked, expats jump between the two with uncertainty of what each offers. Living and working in a constant 5*, 6*, 7* environment, one becomes, your own competition.
So while we leave the politics up to the big guys, and enjoy the cocktails (yes alcoholic) on the beach front bars, let us be aware of the work behind what we now know as one of the World’s Top Destinations. I hope that we can come to a time, where it doesn’t matter who’s is shinier, or taller or bigger? Or is that just the UAE? LoveandTravelHugs Look out for Part 2 I will let you in, on the Fun* Social Side of The UAE….Whiskey may or may not be involved* 🙂