In celebration of the UAE’s 45th National Day, here’s recalling reasons why we love living here. I was 30 when we moved here and now that I just turned 40, it meant we’ve been in this country for a DECADE. Please give me a moment to digest that. OMG, a decade.
I lived for a decade + a few months in Japan and living in the UAE will top that, soon.
Though I sometimes question why we’re still here, here are a few things why we choose to stay, “another year more”.
Despite the stereotyped image of the Middle East, the UAE tops list of the world’s safest countries. I felt safe when I was living in Japan but I feel safer in Dubai – for one, alcohol is not readily available in the grocery or convenient stores (only in duty free shops at the airport or designated stores in the city and it requires a license to purchase) and drinking and caught being drunk in public entails tough fine and imprisonment means there are virtually no drunk people in the roads you’ll meet at night.
Alcohol is available in licensed restaurants and hotels and any adult can order.
Expats who dominate Dubai’s population at 80% compared to the locals come here to work and since punishment for crime is tough and almost always, instant deportation, crime is very low.
Important mention: the UAE is a gun-less society. Gun ownership is a touchy subject in many parts of the world (looking at you, US of A!) but there are actually countries who impose total gun ban or ownership with tough restrictions on citizens and work just fine, like the UAE or Japan, touted: A Land Without Guns.
Personally, I could never live in a place where practically anyone can get their hands on a gun.
(I have no time to argue so if you are pro-gun, you can keep your opinion to yourself because your opinion would not sway mine.)
2. Better work-life balance
One of the reasons why we left Japan and never looked back is the better work-life balance in the UAE. When we, working parents have energy to actually take out the kids and enjoy moments together because we are not too fatigued from a week’s work!
Japan is a work-centred society which centers on, what else but work. Both our working hours at the office were long and the seemingly normal overtime culture was making us miserable, tired and depressed. Many people question our choice of remaining in the UAE all these years with, “Japan is so nice, why don’t you live there?” side comments. Living in Japan with both of us working and with a small child, having no help from family or otherwise wasn’t easy and it was definitely not for us – had we not moved out, it was either I quit working (which wasn’t possible financially at that time) or I quit the marriage. That tough.
(I am glad that Japan for us is just a place we go to if we like to, stay long enough to enjoy it and leave before we dislike it again.)
Also, the chance to hire a live in house help in the UAE greatly contributes to better work-life balance for working mothers/families in general here. I don’t know how I’d live without our trusted house help, especially I am single parenting nowadays, most times of the year.
3. Blue skies 330 days of the year, on the average
It only rains in the winter months, mostly between December to February. On other days, we have unbroken blue skies and bright sun. It will (almost) never rain on your parade.
4. The amazingly great beaches
So many tourists come here for the beaches and we live just a few minutes from it! When we were new here, you wouldn’t find us home on the weekends, we were always at the beach!
5. The cool, not cold winter
And no need to scrape off ice from your car in winter!
6. Dubai is very convenient for travel
Dubai is a wonderful gateway to the world.
A flight time of five hours and under will take you to must see places in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and many more! You take your pick.
Add a couple of hours and you’ll be in beautiful Europe.
With a homegrown budget airline (Fly Dubai) that often goes on sale with their flights, long weekends is always a chance to visit a new destination. Last year, I managed to squeeze in a visit to Austria (flight time: 6 hours 30 minutes) during the Eid Al Adha holidays (+ a couple of days leave from work) and in December, my daughter and I had our first Christmas market experience in Prague around UAE National Day holiday.
7. The multi-lingual environment
More than 80% of Dubai’s population is composed of expats from more than 200 countries. It is interesting to see so many people speak different languages. The kids are learning French and Arabic in school. I love it when I hear them speak or read something that I do not understand.
8. Shopping malls and restaurants and food from all over the world
I know we complain of another mall being built, yada, yada, yada but admit it, we are lucky to have such places for entertainment, especially during the hot summer months! Our lives here are never boring because of the malls. We are spoilt for choice. The groceries at the malls offer almost everything from Japanese food to hundreds of spices. In one shopping mall, you could even ski.
The food scene – With expats comprising most of the population, Dubai is a gastronomic adventure! From budget to fancy, from local shawarmas to authentic Indian staples to Spanish paellas and Peruvian ceviches, everything is in Dubai.
9. Leader with a vision
The UAE is blessed with leaders who believe that ‘anything is possible’ – thanks to leaders with visions of progress, this country only moves forward. There are several projects not just for tourism (we should check out the newly opened Dubai Canal) but to make lives of people, locals and expats alike become better and better: construction of new highways to ease traffic, more green spaces for families.
10. Tax-free salary
…that enables us to save while we live and work here.
Life in the UAE is not perfect, but as does life anywhere else. But for us, this is our home right now so we make the most of it. I could follow up this post with “Things I hate about living in the UAE”, for balance. Will you be curious what’s on that list?