By Nohad Mouawad
We’ve all been guilty of it: complaining about the place we live and basically taking it for granted. For several months we nag about the heat and the dust, we’re often overheard complaining about traffic jams or how the country shuts down when we get some rain. But, although, we don’t always admit it, it’s pretty great to live in a country like the UAE. I’m not just talking about the dazzling buildings and the year-round sunshine, but you have to admit that those don’t hurt either. There are many reasons, though, that make living in the UAE, especially with a family, truly wonderful.
- You’ll Love (and sometimes Love to Hate) the Weather: Okay, so I did say that it gets hot and dusty, but you have to admit that being outside for 6 months of the year, without barely a jacket, is a pretty good deal. During the hotter months, there’s always the pool to cool down in and complaining about hanging out in the pool every day is just weird right?
- You’ll Always Find Hidden Treasures: Not all of the UAE is glitz, glamor and luxury. When you live here, it becomes an adventure to find that unique “hole in the wall.” Sure, once upon a time, it was “edgy” to go on a date at Ravi’s in Satwa, but now with kids, you know that some of the best times are had strolling through the gold souks or finding a new falafel place in your neighborhood. When a small business sets up a stand with eco-friendly products at Ripe Market, it feels all that more special to appreciate. Whether it’s a new gallery showing in Al Quoz or a new bike path nearby, there’s always something to buzz about.
- You’ve Got Manakish, Dal and Biryani Too: Sure, a lot of times the Brits stick to the Brits, the Desis gather together, and the Lebanese create their own groups, but when you come to the UAE, you can’t avoid the sights and sounds of hundreds of different cultures coming together. Being exposed to new styles of clothing, from the abaya to the sari, new cuisines, and new ideas is absolutely unavoidable. Whether it’s the first time you eat a manoushe or a curry, you’re guaranteed to love the experience and be slowly changed by it. If you want a taste of local Emirati culture, there’s a lot on offer as well at Al Fahidi neighboorhood in Bur Dubai where you can have a special local meal or go on a guided walking tour. The Jumeirah mosque and majlis in Dubai also offers tours for those interested.
- You Can Always Find What You Need (and what you want): Everyone knows that the UAE is famous for shopping, but when you live here then it’s about more than the clothes. The best airfryer at the lowest price is always just a click away and you don’t need to choose between the best American, British or Asian brands to furnish and decorate your house. Feel like getting some Arabic perfume and dates grown in the desert for your favorite aunt? You really are spoiled for choice. Feel like a hot café mocha extra cream, no sugar: it’s only one Deliveroo or Careem delivery away, along with the bag of lemons you forgot to buy. If the things you need are not on Instashop or at the mall, then some thoughtful entrepreneur has made it or baked it and you can find them on social media to place your order. Living in the UAE has made you think that it’s normal to order your groceries from your phone while stuck in traffic, or to be able to order the supplies for little Leila’s art project and have them delivered within 10 minutes!
- You Can Ski in the Morning and Swim in the Afternoon: From deluxe movie theatres to waterparks, amusement parks, live entertainment, skate parks, indoor play areas and zoo safaris, it’s really hard for you or your kids to say “I’m bored,” somewhere like the UAE. Ski at Ski Dubai in the morning and swim at the beach in the afternoon, hit the aquarium while running errands, or go dune bashing and have a picnic in the desert. With constant fun events on, like the Sound of the Sevens this weekend, the Emirates are always buzzing with something to do for your kids and for you!
- You Don’t Need to Worry About Your Phone: Of all the things in the UAE that residents take for granted, safety and security is probably the biggest one. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve left my phone or bag unattended without even questioning it, or even forgotten my car unlocked in the mall parking lot, unlike in other big cities around the world.
- You Can Barbecue, Fly a Kite and a Falcon: So the UAE gets a bad rap for being one big shopping mall, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Between kayaking, desert hikes and sand boarding, there’s so much to do outside. For a good half of the year, we all enjoy barbecues, picnics and long days at the park, while the pool and beach are almost year round. For a better view of the mountains, head to Fujeirah, Al Ain or across to Hatta in Oman. There’s nothing more stunning than the sunset in the desert or watching a falconer release his bird into the sky.
- You’re Always Greeted with a Smile: The UAE certainly has some of the best customer service in the world, and you can feel it when you walk into any shop, restaurant or hotel and are greeted with a big smile, hello and a “ma’am/sir.” In fact, from the moment you land at any of Dubai, Abu Dhabi or x airports, the local Emiratis proudly working at passport control and security will make you feel at ease and happy to call the UAE home.
- You’ll Never Step in Dog Poo: Let’s face it: you’ll never get your shoes dirty when living in the UAE and it’s not just because you’re always cruising around in your car. With some of the cleanest streets in the world, you don’t have to worry about trash, animal waste or other not-so-pleasant things you would find in other big cities around the globe. Whether you’re strolling around your residential neighborhood or down by the Creek in Bur Dubai, you can rest easy that you kicks will stay as shiny as the day you bought them.
- You’ve Always Got a View from the Top: When you live in the UAE, you don’t need to climb the Burj Khalifa to get a pretty special view. Living on the 35th floor is as common as having a white car, and there are lots of observation decks and special terraces to catch a glimpse of the flat desert transformed into sparkling cityscape.
Whatever you cherish about living in the UAE, celebrate this weekend by heading down to any one of the free fireworks displays across Dubai and Abu Dhabi from Al Maryah Island to Bur Dubai and many others in between.