The UAE, but Dubai especially, is a tricky place to call home. About 85 percent of us who live here are expats — not immigrants — but expats. We live the most temporary of existences. We’re basically here until our employer decides we don’t have a job. If someone loses their job, it’s not, hey, I’ll work in a coffee shop, do some freelancing, while I look for another one. It’s you have one month to sell your stuff and ship the rest because you’re going back to where you come from. A rep from your company will literally meet you at the airport to make sure you get on the plane.
Makes you want to stay a while, huh?
I’m a white-collar bracero here as long as the (Emirati) Man lets me.
After six months of living out of four suitcases, I finally moved into my own place. Rents in Dubai have come down post-economic meltdown and with apartments in Abu Dhabi still scarce and super expensive (think London rents for slumlord accommodations), it made sense to scoot over to Dubai despite the hour-long commute each way. It’s a nice place on the 34th floor with a big kitchen, balcony looking over some of Dubai’s iconic structures, a pool and gym on the top floor.
The development is called Jumierah Lakes Towers, across from the Dubai Marina, if you’re familiar with the city at all. It’s a group of about 25 towers, a Midtown Manhattan sprung up in two years. The buildings are all in some form of half-completion. Our parking garage is still being worked on and you can’t yet drive up the drive to get to the front entrance.
Basically, I’m living in a live construction zone: 24-hour construction permits, dodging concrete trucks when I leave in the morning to get on the highway. From my bedroom window I can watch the laborers scale the next-door skyscraper on rickety risers. Let’s just say they wouldn’t allow this sort of co-existence on Turtle Creek Boulevard. (I’ll post pics soon.)
The suitcases are unpacked, I’ve bought the basics in furniture and the kitchen is stocked. I bought a new car. I’m meeting people, making friends. But it’s weird to have no shared history – well, at least not longer than six months — with anyone here. So what I’m thinking about now is: how to make this home.