Thursday 27 September 2012

Only in Dubai

Before we left Australia, some friends who had lived in Dubai said we would experience a phenomenon called "Only in Dubai"which is something that happens that leaves you shaking your head and saying: "Only in Dubai".

We've had many, many of these moments since we landed. Many moments when we've been told one thing and something else has happened. We've discovered that Dubai is the land of evens. When something goes wrong, something else will go right to balance it all out.

Here are some things I've discovered that may not be unique to Dubai, but certainly don't happen in Sydney:

* Delivery. Dubai is the land of delivery. You can get absolutely anything delivered. A cup of coffee. A packet of biscuits. Water. A meal. Furniture. Our hire car was dropped off and then collected from us. All delivered for free. All delivery quickly. We even got our new car delivered. There is one thing you can't get delivered in Dubai and that is mail. Yep, there is no mail delivery to homes here. Someone will go to the effort to bring a cup of coffee to your house, delivered free, but they can't deliver mail.

* There are times when you just cannot get someone to understand you. I was trying to purchase a tag for the car to pay the road tolls. Seems easy enough, but I went to the bank where the website said they were available and could not get anyone to understand me. I spoke clearly and by the end I was miming road toll, try doing that, it's not easy.

* Hypermarkets. They love anything to do with shopping here and being the land of the biggest and the best, people love a good hypermarket. A hypermarket is essentially a supermarket on steroids. In a hypermarket you can buy anything from freshly made wood-fired mannakish to groceries to appliances to diamond jewellery. Just don't forget anything as you're walking around because it will be a long hike back - these places are seriously HUGE. So if you need to pick up a necklace for a ball and some frozen peas this is the your one-stop shop.

* People will do things that just don't make sense. For example, yesterday I went shopping with Skip's EFTPOS card, when I handed it over to pay the cashier said "you need to sign". I explained that it wasn't my card so could I put in a PIN. "No, you need to sign." I again explained that as it wasn't my card I'd need to put in a PIN as the signature would be different. "No, you need to sign." I argued again and again "You need to sign." So, I signed and she accepted it. I'll say no more.

* The kids are considered special. Even when they're being feral. So many people will come up and chat and ask to hold the baby, especially men. In Sydney men will barely look sideways at the kids, yesterday Darbs and I were in a mall having some lunch and no less than six different men came up to play peekaboo, shake his hand, say hello or tickle his feet.

*Sydney is a pretty multicultural city, but nothing like Dubai is. Yesterday as I sat in that mall there were people of every nationality. There were Emiratis in traditional dress, a chic French couple, an Indian family, an American man bearing a striking resemblance to Willie Nelson, surfie teens in boardies, a Lebanese man wearing an Italia soccer jersey. It's brilliant and I love being a part of it.

* People don't leave messages. A missed call on your mobile is your message. I've been trying to get some water delivered and I called them to ask what was going on. Seems they called, I missed the call so it's my duty to call back that missed call even if I don't know who it is. I've been repeatedly asked by businesses 'Didn't you get my missed call?' If you don't call back the missed call, too bad.

* Yesterday as I picked up the kids from school the car park had an array of cars - massive Hummers, a Maserati, a fat Rolls Royce, lots of Mercedes, Porsches and BMWs. A change from the Toyotas, Fords and Holdens at home.

I've only been here just under two months and I'm really enjoying Dubai. Sure there are frustrating moments, sure there are lonely moments, but it is what you make it.


  1. love it rin! Its those stories and experiences that are truly worth remembering xx

  2. This is a great post! The missed calls - hilarious! It was the same in Ukraine and the same here - in fact I don't think voicemail was/is available in either country. When I came back to Australia, I was having major disputes with our real estate agent. And one day I returned a call from them and didn't leave a message - so unaccustomed to it was I! And then we had a huge fight about how I (their client!) hadn't left a message and so they didn't call back! ha ha!

    As for kids… I've long said that Australians love kids they know and can't stand kids they don't. Kids are generally treated with disdain in public places in Australia but everywhere else I've been - including the UK - people comment, coo, play and generally go out of their way to accommodate kids (and mothers). Australia is shocking. The only time one of my kids was snatched off me and taken for a cuddle in Australia was when we went to an Indian restaurant. The Indian owner took the baby off me for half and hour so I could eat.

    1. Recently a school meeting an Arab lady sent her toddler outside with their maid and then took Darbs and played with Darbs during the entire meeting. It felt a little odd to be honest.

  3. Love this Corinne, I find these posts about life in Dubai totally fascinating. It sounds like this wonderful, almost bizarro world, very exciting to be a part of. The mail thing is hilarious, I can't imagine not having a postie... but having all those other things delivered would make up for it I guess xo

    1. The mail thing really gets me, they have a large, inexpensive labour force so it would be easy, the biggest hurdle would be the address system. More often than not places are landmarked rather than have a street address. At the furniture shop instead of writing the delivery address they ask you to draw a map.

  4. One of your best lovely ... definitely one of your best.... X

  5. Fantastic post - again.
    I'm loving this glimpse into Dubai life - and your adventures.
    :-) xx

  6. Oooooo I love reading about this kind of stuff, I find it so interesting. It must be so exciting, but challenging at the same time. Thank You for sharing Corinne xox


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