Dubai: The Land of “Most”

In truth, I have a love and sometimes dislike relationship with Dubai.

I love that there are so many interesting places to visit, events to attend, global brands to choose from, and amazing cuisines and eateries to enjoy. I also feel very safe here, as a single female traveler. Dubai is the place to live the high life.

On this trip, I committed myself to go up to the top of Burj Khalifa at sunset and to visit Burj Al Arab to see its lobby and bar. I had been to Dubai 10 plus times, but never really made any effort before. I am very impressed at how built-up and beautifully planned Dubai is – from aesthetic point of view, as I am not a city planner 🙂

The Address Downtown hotel and Dubai Fountain from the 148th floor of Burj Khalifa
The Address Downtown hotel and Dubai Fountain from the 148th floor of Burj Khalifa
Burj Al Arab and Palm Island in the background from the 148th floor of Burj Khalifa at sunset
Burj Al Arab and Palm Island in the background from the 148th floor of Burj Khalifa at sunset

I really am amazed at how much Dubai has grown since my very first trip there, especially Sheikh Zayed Road. In 2004, there were few building on Sheikh Zayed Road and the Emirates/Arabian Adventures building was one of the last one built then. Look at the picture below to see how built up Sheikh Zayed Road is. And look at the peak hour traffic!  Right after the 2007-2008 subprime crisis, I went to Dubai and the road was empty!  I did not encounter any traffic issues then, unlike before the crisis and now.

Built-up and bustling Sheikh Zayed road at dusk
Built-up and bustling Sheikh Zayed road at dusk

On the flip side, though, having been to Dubai 10+ times and talking to many expat friends, perhaps things are just not as rosy as it seems. In Dubai, there would never be a chance of getting citizenship, regardless how long one has stayed and worked or started a thriving business there. Every foreigner has to have back up plans when they are nearing their retirement age, as their work permits may not be renewed. Some foreigners who work there receive unpleasant treatments, not necessarily from the locals or co-workers, but from the clients. A case in point, one time, I checked into a 5-star hotel and I acted as my usual self – neither hyperly friendly, nor overly bitchy – and the philippino receptionist repeated three times “oh, Ma’am you are so nice”. That incident really took me aback and made me think what hardships these foreigners go through. Perhaps with all the glamorous status, there is something about Dubai that encouraged mis-behaviour from those who think they have money.

I suppose this is expected, after all Dubai is known to be the land of “most”. It always aims for bigger and larger landmarks. Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab are examples of that. They want to be the best in many things (which is not a bad ambition to be honest). They want to have landmarks with a lot of hypes, like the Palm Island. The issues with these massive real estate projects are that, in my view, most likely do not generate positive returns. How many completed projects stand empty or incomplete?


Mosaic beautiful hallway to the lift to take us to the Skyview Bar of Burj Al Arab
Mosaic beautiful hallway to the lift to take us to the Skyview Bar of Burj Al Arab

I personally always enjoy my time in Dubai. By now I have my friends there, favourite places to eat (Al Nafoorah and Al Hallab), and favourite malls (Dubai Mall). But I do wonder at times, if the resources put into these ambitions are better off for other uses, such as, improving education and healthcare or private pension programs, or be used for sovereign investments that can generate income for the state’s budget. One of the benefits of Dubai is its tax-free regime, and yet now they will be imposing 5 percent VAT in Jan 1, 2018 for additional revenues.

Raw kibbeh at Al Nafoorah
Raw kibbeh at Al Nafoorah

Anyways, just my thoughts as I come in and go out of Dubai all these years. I am neither an economist nor a sociologist. I am interested in knowing what the others thinks about Dubai. Welcoming your comments below.

Until next time.

2 thoughts on “Dubai: The Land of “Most”

  1. Tis indeed a city of contradictions. I’ve been here just under a year and while it’s spectacular at one level, under the surface lies a different reality which is not easy to understand or accept.

    I’ve not totally made my mind up, but think a stint of 3/5 years would be a good thing for my family.

    A different perspective and lot’s of opportunity to experience new things in the centre of the Middle East and it’s most liberal culture plus great food, people and a Tax free lifestyle at the moment.

    Time will only tell on whether it is really sustainable or one of the greatest social experiments on earth today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @MSSocialCRM thank you for sharing your insights and first hand experiences. I totally agree with you and hope your family makes the most of your stay there…let us know when you make up your mind a few years down the road. Many that I know love the expat life in Dubai, but the moment they leave they cannot adjust to the “real” world anymore. Yet, on the other hands, you meet all these people who are in Dubai just trying to earn enough to live and for the family back home, and for them, life here cannot be anymore real….


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