Through My Eyes

Timing was everything.

Shaking The Sand Off

with one comment

The longer I wait to write this, the less I’ll remember from my trip to the UAE last week. I flew over with my friend Kelly from college to visit my old roommate, who’s now living and working in Abu Dhabi. Kelly is the person who introduced me to James during my last year at UCSB, so this trip really closed the circle for us.

Before getting on the plane, I had just left my job at Joyus, which had consumed most aspects of my life for the last 9 months. I wasn’t up-to-date on current events, I barely had time to read, let alone learn more about where we were heading for the week. When I got on the plane, I realized I knew almost nothing about Abu Dhabi and it’s naughty sister to the north, Dubai.

When you think of the Middle East, you associate it with dry sand dunes, flavors of saffron, dates, and mint, and never-ending religious, territorial, and ethnic conflicts that plague the region. Well, the UAE is the new Middle East. I would liken what Dubai is to Abu Dhabi with what San Francisco is to Sacramento. In Dubai, you’re either a poor migrant from the Philippines, Pakistan, or different parts of India working in the service or hospitality industry, a trust fund baby, or a privileged ex pat who plans to stay only 2-3 years spending just as much as he makes. In Abu Dhabi, where it’s a bit more conservative, mature, and low key, you still don’t encounter many native Emiratis on a daily basis.

One thing I did observe was the culture and acceptance of infidelity, especially within the ex pat community. It seemed as if every man we met was cheating, was willing to cheat, or was looking to cheat on his wife or girlfriend. It was depressing that when we went out at night, if we were dressed a certain way, we were also treated a certain way. Men in the UAE (those who can afford it) have access to an extremely diversified population of prostitutes, it seems. One morning, we witnessed a plethora of  girls walking out of our hotel in 5-inch Louboutins, wearing last night’s makeup, sporting sex hair. When we asked our friend, he said this was just like any typical morning in Dubai. When I asked our dune driver, he also confirmed that it was very easy for him if he wanted to “find a woman.”

Something else that threw me off was how new Dubai is. I was looking for more history and craftsmanship in the things I bought for coworkers and friends by home, but all we could find in old town Dubai near the Gold Souk (market) were manufactured souvenirs made in India, China, and the Philippines. I was disappointed that I didn’t see anything traditional that represented an actual culture there.

In the end, I’m happy to have experienced that part of the world and to have spent time with good friends. But having been there, I don’t think I could ever live there. Unless I was there working on a project, of course…


Written by winniewongsf

April 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm

One Response

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  1. Just be happy the Louboutins weren’t being used as a weapon. I hear an arrest will be made soon…


    May 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm

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