Fire in Deira!


A fire broke out at a building just opposite my work place a few hours ago. The fire started very small at 5:30 pm. My colleagues and I ran to the meeting room to see the flame starting to get bigger and bigger, right in front of our eyes!

Surprisingly, the people in the building were so chill about it at first. I didn’t see any movements with a hint of panic. We even saw some taking their laundry hanging to dry in the balcony and peeking at the small fire.

fire 1

Fire in Deira from Sandier Pastures on Vimeo.

The fire started in a space between two buildings. The location of the buildings is in Salahuddin road, between Crowne Plaza Deira and Movenpick Deira hotels, right along the Dubai Metro Green Line elevated platform.

fire 2

It was a little bit windier than usual early this evening so it made the fire situation worse. After taking the above picture from my office building, we were asked to evacuate because the smoke is coming in to our direction. I grabbed my belongings and ran out. Most of my colleagues (Muslims) were out for their prayers and I met them outside, they left everything in our building: car keys, wallets, mobile phone etc. Police has prevented anyone from entering our office building.

The flames quickly spread, first to the right building and then in a few minutes, both buildings were engulfed.

fire 3

A few minutes after the fire started, Dubai Metro Green Line operations (both directions) was stopped. People were asked to move away as far as possible, I took the above photo at the entrance gate of Muraqqabat Police station.

fire 4

More sirens and the number of fire trucks increased. What made this scarier is that there is a petrol station RIGHT NEXT to the burning building and the Emarat petrol station was rained on by burning objects. Police drove us further away.

fire 5

Movenpick Hotel Deira tweeted that they have evacuated all their guests as precaution.

fire 7

salahuddin road closed

fire 6

Police restricted access to Salahuddin road on both directions and drove people all the way across the street to Best Western Inn (formerly Traders Hotel Deira).

Since the train operations were halted, I could not go home and so were the rest of the people there. So many were taking photos and videos and since I was stranded, I got busy tweeting the whole situation. You can see my live tweets about the fire on Twitter at @sandierpastures.

The Metro operations still hadn’t resumed by 7:30 pm, two hours after the fire started. Everyone was driven out of Salahuddin road so it was time for me to go home.  There was traffic all over but thankfully, I was able to get on a bus going to the direction of my home. The bus was so crowded but nevertheless I was happy to finally get home.

I am still reeling from the shock of what I saw. My mind and prayers are with the people who lived in the building. Please keep them in your prayers, that everyone got out safely and that they may find shelter and comfort tonight.

UPDATE: 11pm, 23 November 2015

Dubai Police is reporting no casualties or injuries. I suppose because most of the residents in the building were out working when the fire broke out except for a few having day offs. Glad to hear no one got hurt but still all of them are left homeless.

New for Saturdays: Pik-nik at the Westin

It’s another weekend in Dubai and with much relief from the past weekends, it’s actually already pleasant and bearable outside. These kind of days make you want to lay a mat on the grass and just stare at the sky while the kids run around.

The Westin Mina Seyahi has introduced a fun, family friendly offer called Pik-nik – an English country style picnic at the Westin lawns, enclosed in white picket fences with tartan family rugs spread out over fresh green grass.

The picnic basket is included in the basic package while the below are not, billed separately. 
Each family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) will get one picnic basket packed with different salads in country style labelled jars, french bread, assorted soft breads, madeleines, muffins, cheeses, cold cuts, a bottle of sweet tea and water. The basket also includes plates and cutleries so you won’t have to do anything else but just lay the food on the picnic mat and enjoy.

westin piknik

There was entertainment for the kids as well. With plenty of space to run around, a little jungle gym of sorts with face painting and because of this juggler, we seldom see the kids at our picnic mat!

The picnic starts at around 11:30 but we got there at 12:30 pm. Good thing there were still so many vacant spots – TIP: if you want the table setting rather than the picnic mat on the ground, you must come early.

We chose to sit on the mat with big comfy bean bags. Pristine and I went to get the picnic basket along with the beverages and made sandwiches from the breads, cold cuts and cheeses and were happy with this light lunch. I guess when you’re expecting Dubai’s over the top weekend brunches, this might not be for you but this is actually a break from those lavish brunches. It’s simple, it was filling for us and we’re happy with our picnic time – the most appealing factor is that we didn’t have to prepare any of the food or clean up afterwards!

The only downside I can point out are the flying insects you have to battle when the food is out of the basket. I suppose it would be better to use the elevated picnic tables otherwise cover the food to prevent such inconvenience or choose a different place, preferably not near the tree? I feel thought that we must be the only ones struggling with the flying insects as the others were just fine. I don’t know.

We had a great day out in the sun, lunging in the mat outdoors and seeing the kids happy. This is something we certainly would like to do again. If you live on the other side of Dubai (like us), The Westin Mina Seyahi is easier to access now with the tram. Get down at Damac Properties (Red line) and take the tram to Al Sufouh direction. Get down at the Mina Seyahi tram station. The hotel is just across the street.

I believe those who want to enjoy the outdoors will love The Westin’s fab new concept – Saturday Piknik. From 11.30am-4pm, Dh390 will get you a rustic picnic basket for two adults and two children (drinks extra) full of traditional goodies such as sandwiches, salads, dips and pastries, as well as a host of fun entertainment for the little ones. To book call 04 511 7139.

Disclosure: We received a complimentary brunch for 2 adults and 2 children for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Street Nights at JBR

street nights logo

NOTE: This event ran from 30th April to 9th May so it has ended at the time of this writing. However, I’ll be offering tips you can make use of to make your street nights experience better the next time they do it again.

We’re seeing more and more of these culture events in Dubai lately and we went to one last weekend – The Street Nights JBR at The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence. We’ve heard of it before but when you live on the other side of Dubai, JBR and Dubai Marina side sounds so far and exhausting and make you question if it’s worth the time (and the traffic!) at all.

TIP: JBR is a notorious area for congestion and heavy, heavy traffic, especially on weekends. Take the Metro + tram combination and walk to the venue. “The Walk’ is named aptly, for people should all walk, not drive!

yumtingz 1

First food truck sighting at the beginning of the street food venue! This is called Yumtingz, selling burgers and refreshing drinks. We had to stop and have some!

yumtings menu

TIP: If you see this food truck again somewhere in Dubai, I highly recommend the beef burger and their refreshing drinks called Passiona and Basil Mango.

yumtingz 3

There is a space at the back of the truck as well with the delight of the children. As the sun set, more and more people were coming to the event and getting stuck at the Yumtingz food truck.

yumtingz 4

The Walk at JBR showcased delicious, unique street food concepts, daring street art and underground urban beats with participation of over 50 local street artists.

street vendors

I found these posters poking fun at some “Dubai lifestyle”, which I can’t deny has some truth in it.

funny posters

During the ten-day event, local street artists offered live painting, air-brush performances, and DJs spun their latest tracks, and creative home-grown food concepts in the form of…food trucks!

What is a food truck? A food truck is a large vehicle with on-board kitchen equipped to cook and sell food.

Lately, food trucks have exploded in popularity here in the UAE. But with the high temperatures during summer, I can imagine it is not easy for food trucks due to many complicated municipality laws that govern street food and food safety.

moti roti food truck

This Moti Roti food truck is probably the most beautiful of all. I love the vintage feel of the colors and the design.  I spoke to some of the food truck people and surprised to hear some were made here (I thought all food trucks were imported from outside the country).

panifico food truck

brooklyn bros

brooklyn bros 2

food truck 2

TIP: Don’t eat up to your maximum from the first food truck that you see. Explore the place and then sample a menu from each.

us at jbr

jbr 2

We had a lovely time though it was already pretty warm even at night. We would love to go to another street festival again in the future, hopefully in the cooler months (erm, which means not in another 6 months!) Taking the kids to a street festival was a great break from the usual mall trips. It’s refreshing to stroll outside too. And was it worth our time coming from the other side of Dubai? The answer is yes.

Daycation at the Ritz Carlton Dubai

ritz pool 1

What makes Dubai an exciting place is that we don’t have to go far and out of the country to enjoy resort type vacations. In this case, we don’t even need to be out of for a few days…enter “daycation” – a new term to add to the already trending “staycation”. We spent a daycation at the Ritz Carlton – one full day to sit back, relax and bask in the sun to enjoy the warm ocean water or the refreshing pools and waterfalls within their extensive gardens.

The resort sanctuary experience ideal for families who just simply need to unwind and relax without having to leave the city.

pool collage

It’s getting really hot in Dubai lately and cooling off at this pool is a great respite from the heat. They also have a mini slide and fountains, making the pool look like a small water park. The kids almost didn’t want to get out of it!

For young guests, the superb Ritz Kidz club, situated in close proximity to the sun-shaded children’s pool and play areas, allows parents the opportunity to unwind. This popular kids club is spacious, bright and clean.

ritz kids room

ben in ritz kids 2

I love that the staff at Ritz Kids are very friendly and professional. I wouldn’t worry a bit about leaving my kids here.

ben in ritz kids

The Ritz Kids program offers daily supervised activities for children, including magic, ballet and swimming lessons, story time, and even cooking activities. Here are the kids learning to make fruit smoothies. They get to choose which fruit combinations they like.

smoothie making

Time flies when you’re having fun, right? It was already lunch before we knew it. We had lunch at Caravan, an all day dining restaurant, serving Arabic, pasta and Indian dishes. The lunch was modest but hearty. But to be honest, I expected more variety because, Ritz. (Even the dessert section was very limited)

lunch 1

lunch 2

After lunch, there was a cookie making session for moms and cookie decorating session for kids. Someone was really serious about the task at hand…

cookie making ben

The other kids were also busy decorating their cookies.

cookie decorating 1

These are Pristine’s masterpieces. The one with G and T initials are for me and her dad. So sweet…the message and the cookies!

P cookies

We did not stay at the Ritz Carlton but I already feel this is a great hotel for families travelling with kids because of their kids club. The staff are well trained and genuinely nice, and Ritz Kids has a lot to offer for kids: unending activities to keep them entertained and busy. It’s always a relief for parents to be able to have a place to leave the kids for a few hours – after all, even adults need child-free, me time!

More information about daycation at The Ritz Carlton:

  • Price: AED 500 per adult** / AED 300 per Ritz Kids (includes access to the resort, use of gym and spa facilities and Ritz Kids but excluding food) ** special rate of AED750 per couple
  • On Fridays, when guests book a Rotisserie Friday Brunch (with price starts from AED 450 for non-alcoholic package), a special half day pass rate of AED200 per adult & AED100 per child is available
  • Opening hours: 8.00am to 7.00pm

You can find more information at the Ritz Carlton main website or connect with them on Facebook

We truly enjoyed our day at the Ritz especially the children however, this is where I have to be transparent. I think it is very expensive (at least for me!). For a family of four (that’s us: 2 adults and 2 kids), that’s a whooping AED1,350 for one day only and excluding food and drinks (applying special couple rate of AED750). Unless they have a special (discounted) package for families with children, it could be smarter to just stay for the night.

* We were guest at The Ritz Carlton but all opinions are mine.

The worst dust storm in 8 years


We woke up this morning with a little haze outside. Another sandstorm/dust storm? The above pic was taken Thursday morning (it’s Tuesday now).

Dubai had one hell of crazy weather last week. It changed from clear blue skies on Wednesday to apocalyptic dust storm on Thursday and again beautiful, beautiful weather on Friday!

This is not new. We get this often when the season changes from ‘winter’ to summer. Haze, heavy fogging. But then it didn’t stop right there. The dust storm escalated and became worse until it blanketed the whole city (maybe the whole country?) with thick, yellow dust.

dust storm

The above photo has no filter whatsoever. It is what it is, the view outside my office, straight from the camera. It lasted until late afternoon. At first I thought everyone was suddenly using Instagram and applying a yellowish filter or sepia. Nope, see the dust storm photos shared by readers of Emirates 24/7.

Last Thursday’s haze that saw wind speeds reach 65 km per hour and visibility drop to a mere 100 metres in some places. The dust storm has forced Saudi Arabia and Qatar to close down schools.

That was the worst dust storm/sandstorm I’ve seen in our 8 years living in the UAE.

Have you seen the movie Mission Impossible 4, where Tom Cruise is being chased by a massive sandstorm? I was like, what an exaggeration! That never happens in real life! Dang, movie special effects!


But whoa, last week, we were reminded that it could happen!

Thankfully, the weather cleared up and we had our glorious clear, blue skies back again, just in time for the weekend. We drove to Umm Al Quwain, one of the seven emirates of the UAE, just less than an hour from Dubai.

umm al quwain

What a nice, quiet community just off the main road in Umm Al Quwain.

villa in umm al quwain

Our friend and his family are leaving the UAE and going back to Japan. I feel bad we didn’t see them as often as we should have. They’ve been here for about 8 years too and now, they’re going back ‘home’. Again, we were reminded of the transient life here, one day, we may be the one to say goodbye too.

But first, barbecue and pool time!

pool gate

pool time

And then playing with their dog!


I have a confession to make: I am scared of dogs (especially the small, aggressive ones) but this dog was so gentle. He is already 15 years old with very mild character. The kids LOVED him and asked whether our friends would bring the dog back to Japan because if not? Insert puppy dog eyes of pleading here.


There is a forecast of fog/haze and dust storm again in the next few days. I hope it’s nothing serious like the one we had last Thursday.

Outside Ghubaiba station

Photo walk: Learning to use the lenses

Outside Ghubaiba station

I was out and about in Deira and Bur Dubai last weekend for my first photo walk with Helen Shippey, a Dubai based photographer whom I’ve ‘met’ and became friends with in social media. We bumped into each other on our visit to Al Tamimi stables. Lovely person online, lovelier person offline.

Each of the participants of the photo walk had their own goals in joining but mine was to familiarize myself with using the two lenses I have.

The photo walk started at the abra station at the Bur Dubai side and at around 3:30 pm when all the participants gathered, we took the abra (a small motorboat that crosses the creek) to the Deira side.

abras at the creek

This old side of Dubai is a treasure trove of photo opportunities, that’s why I joined this photo walk. I’ve been here so many times and had taken a lot of photos in the past but never when I was alone – just me and my camera. It’s always with family so all my photos are ‘chance’ photos, taken during child chasing breaks.

abra at the creek

I took the two lenses that I bought recently: my Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens and Nikon 35mm prime lens. I was excited to take these babies out and looking forward to the outcome.

Crossing the creek presents a wonderful opportunity to take photos of these small moving motor boats. I attached the bigger wide angle lens and started to click away.

abra at Dubai creek

abra at Dubai creek


I think I have taken lots and lots of photos of abras so I wanted something different. Like, take close up shots of people, for example.There are so many interesting characters in Dubai – from that abra driver who manipulates his motor boat day in and day out, to that Pakistani guy peeking through an old wooden boat that carries cargo between UAE and Iran, to that local girl sitting all by herself, nothing but her eyes seen under that burqa at the courtyard of the old spice market to the very aggressive (and at times annoying) spice and what nots vendors in Deira souk.

However, many do not like their photos taken, so we’re restricted to take photos of scenes and things (but one must be careful not to take photos of locals in the background, especially ladies, without their permissison!).

spice souq

I learned a lot during the two hour photo walk session. One is that I need more practice, especially with using the new lenses. Which appropriate lens to use, under which available (light) circumstances, etc.

And I learned that there are things which shouldn’t be taken with a 10-20mm wide angle lens: buildings up close. The image distortion is dizzying. I know this lens is great for wide landscape to “get the bigger picture” so it’s certainly not for buildings and cramped spaces.

It would work for these.

abras at the creek

abras at the creek

But not for these!

wide lens distortion

Oh God, no.

wide lens distortion

Vertigo, anyone?

wide angle distortion

I am still playing around with the depth of field of the 35mm prime lens and happy with the result but could be wonderful to take a face of a person against a nice backdrop!

depth of field

I also learned that it’s not easy to keep on changing lenses…moments could escape you easily. But I would still insist you get a prime lens.

A big bonus of using prime lenses is that they’re usually ‘faster’. This means they have a larger maximum aperture, which enables quicker shutter speeds. ‘Faster’ lenses aren’t just good for avoiding camera-shake and freezing the action in dull lighting conditions, another big advantage is that you can get a much tighter depth of field, enabling you to isolate the main point of interest in a shot by blurring the background.

Additional read: What is a prime lens and why use one?

I didn’t take too many pictures during the photo walk as much as I expected I would. I am not sure why, maybe because I am too familiar with the place that I got used to it and suddenly, they weren’t that “picture-worthy” enough for me or I was just discouraged with some of the photos taken with my wide angle lens – it’s not a bad lens, it was just not apt for crowded places like the Deira souk, I suppose. I also felt I can’t capture some scenes perfectly using the more restrictive 35mm prime…which brings me to realize I might need a more flexible lens like the Nikon 24-70mm  (someone stop me from this lens obsession!! This is an expensive hobby!!).

The 24-70mm is a versatile lens can be used for many different kinds of photography needs – from wide-angle landscapes and panoramas, to portraits and events. Why didn’t I buy it? IT IS EXPENSIVE!!

Back to the photo walk…

rule of thirds

Helen also talked about composition. Composition is the pleasant arrangement of elements within a frame which give the most powerful ability to attract the eye, and to keep it exploring within the frame for as long as possible. That’s why I didn’t take too many photos because I felt, simply feeling that there is a picture to be made, and just snapping away from wherever I’m standing, is the best way to take bad pictures. I didn’t want to ask myself later “What was I thinking?”

Again, maybe too much familiarity of the place might have put me off into going into a clicking frenzy.  Maybe when I choose to join another photo walk, it would be a place new to me so I can see it with fresh eyes and hopefully find more interesting things to shoot.

I walked with Helen towards the Metro station when the session ended and we stopped to see the sun just setting in the horizon. I was too lazy to take out my SLR and used my iPhone and put “composition” into action. I like how this turned out and glad we stopped by to take this shot. And this is one of the important things she pointed out during the photo walk: to stop and look for beauty wherever you are and then capture it.


*photo taken with an iPhone 5, filter added via Instagram app*

It was quite a tiring day, but fun nevertheless. Helen is very warm and welcoming and open to all questions about photography. You can connect with her through Twitter and Instagram or follow the Shippey Photography Facebook page for updates about future photo walks.

All photos taken using Nikon D5300 unless otherwise stated.

Waking up to glorious Dubai winter weather

outside view

I know it’s already March and Dubai’s winter is long gone. That’s why this post. We are going to relive the lovely days of winter…just because we can. Right now, the weather is still kind to us desert dwellers these days. The mornings and afternoons are still cool and middays are still very forgiving. However, as sure as day comes after night, we know the dreaded desert summer is just around the corner!

We stayed at The Address Dubai Marina back in December, when Dubai offered the perfect weather: clear, blue skies and chilly temperatures. But the huge 50 meter pool was temperature controlled and it was awesome.

pool at The Address Dubai Marina

We woke up very excited for the weekend to start, I mean who doesn’t get excited of the possibility of all day relaxation and fun? But first, breakfast!

breakfast Collage

There are breakfasts and then there are breakfasts at Mazina restaurant! Breakfasts at Mazina is at a different level. The spread  was anything and everything you could want – all sorts of food, fresh cooked eggs in live cooking station, very fresh bread and pastries, the full English if wanted and even pork cold cuts. I could write hundreds of words how I love having breakfast here but a short, unbiased opinion would be: It might be difficult for you to appreciate breakfasts from other hotels once you’ve been to breakfast at Mazina. It’s that extensive, it’s that GOOD, period.

By the way, if you are a family with children, a lovely addition to Mazina’s lovely offerings is the Saturday Generation Creation Brunch every 3rd Saturday of the month. The best brunch for families.

After breakfast, it was time for the pool. The sun was also already up, making it not too scary to jump into the water. Although we know the water is temperature controlled (read: warm), there’s that notion that it might be cold because of the cool blue color!

ben ready for pool

Benjamin is more than ready to take a dip! And surely enough, he loved it!

ben edge of pool

Jumeirah Beach Residence behind us. We really loved our time in this infinity pool – the clearest pool water we’ve ever seen.  It has also a pool side lounge and restaurant called Shades that serve refreshing drinks and lovely food.

fam in pool

My sister was also with us that time. I brought my Catalyst waterproof case for my phone. This is a great investment if you love taking underwater photos!

ariane underwater shot

I can’t rave about the pool at The Address Dubai Marina enough – but I am not alone. Ahlan has ranked it as the best pool in Dubai!

For more information about The Address Dubai Marina and its latest offerings, please check out their website.

We were guests at The Address Dubai Marina, however, all opinions are mine.

How to transfer UAE visa sponsorship for children

benjamin-visa 2

Like hundreds of thousands of expatriates in Dubai, we all require a visa to work and live here. Mine and my husband’s employment visas are sponsored by our respective employers. Either of us but usually the husband (“head of the family”) can then sponsor our children and our house help.

When we first came to Dubai in 2007 because of my work, I sponsored my husband and our daughter because my husband did not have any work that time. Sponsoring husband and children in the UAE is allowed but can sometimes become a tedious job that requires extra paper work. Not all women are allowed to become family sponsors due to the fact that this is a Muslim country and the immigration department insists that the child’s sponsor be the father in all circumstances. However, in case the husband (Father) has lost job and got his visa cancelled, it will be necessary for wife (mother) to sponsor the visa, if the mother works in UAE. 

Our son, Benjamin is under his father’s sponsorship but due to changes in his employment situation, we needed to transfer the visa under my sponsorship. Pristine had been under my sponsorship since 2007.

I receive a lot of inquiries via my private email regarding this so this blog post. Hope this helps.

* Please note that when the wife becomes the sponsor, the immigration officers deal with this in a case to case basis so additional documents may be needed other than the ones listed below.

1. Original passport of child/children to be sponsored

2. Original passport of sponsor

3. No objection letter (should be typewritten as handwritten is not accepted). It should state that the current sponsor (in our case, my husband) has no objection/accepts that the visa sponsorship is transferred to the new sponsor (in our case, mine). In some cases, the immigration officer might ask for this letter in Arabic so better prepare both in English and Arabic. We were lucky they accepted ours in English.

4. Labor contract of new sponsor – The sponsor’s monthly salary shall be Dhs3,000 + accommodation or a total of Dhs4,000 as per the employment contract approved by the Ministry of Labour. The Contract to be attested from Immigration Department on payment of Dhs120.

5. Proof that husband cannot sponsor – we presented the end of contract letter from his company.

6. Birth certificate of child

7. Marriage certificate

8. Tenancy contract (accommodation rental agreement). It has to be attested through Ejari online system of Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).  The Tenancy contract should be under the sponsor’s name. Our tenancy contract is under my husband’s name so we attached his passport copy and explained that we are living together.

9. Electricity bill (I think this is used as proof of address)

10. 1 photograph of the child in white background

1. Go to the immigration office (the main is in Jaffliya but you can also apply at the municipality office, we went to the one in Al Twar near where we live).

2. With all the required documents, approach an authorized typing center (there is a typing center in all immigration branches). Tell them whether the child is in the country or outside the country. You pay the visa fees at the typing center.

3. Once  the typing is done for the new Entry permit, approach the immigration department and present your application.

4. This is where you will be asked to see the supervisor who will assess this as a “humanitarian case”, check all your documents and HOPEFULLY sign the entry permit form. You may be asked questions as to why there is a need to transfer the visa (where is the father? What is his visa status?)

5. Once you receive the Entry Permit, if the child is inside UAE, you need to get the status changed by again approaching typing center and typing the form.

6. When that is done, approach the immigration desk again to stamp the visa.

*Medical is not required for children below the age of 18 years.

We paid Dhs 830 at the typing center. This includes Residence visa fee, transfer fee and Emirates ID.


Main Branch
Bur Dubai, Karama, Opposite Jafiliya Metro Station
Working Time: 7:30am – 8pm (Sun-Thu)
Immigration Call Centre 800 5111

Dubai International Airport (Terminal 3)
Gate No.2, Departures area
Phone: 04-707 5388
Timing: Around the clock, seven days a week (including holidays)
Services: All visa related services (including e-gate card)
NOTE: Urgent service only for new visa stamping and renewal (Courier service not available)

DNATA Emirates Building
Near Clock Tower, Deira
Phone: 04-707 5946
(Dh25 extra service charge for each transaction)
Timing: 7:30 to 2:30pm

A’amal Center – Hyatt Regency
Hyatt Regency Hotel-Deira
Business Centre, First Floor
Phone: 04-707 5922
(Dh30 extra service charge for each transaction)
Timing: 8am to 2:30pm

Municipality Service Centre
Al Towar, Qusais, Opposite Al Towar Mall
Phone: 04-707 5162
Timing: 7:30 to 8pm

Bin Souqat Centre
Al Rashidiya
Phone: 04-707 5939
Timing: 7:30 to 8pm

Arabian Centre
Mirdif / Al Mizhar
Phone: 04-707 5181
Timing: 7:30am – 8pm

Working mom in the train

dubai metro

I just got to my seat at work and a quick check at my inbox, I know today’s going to be a long day. A work colleague went for his annual vacation (we get 30 days off each year) and I need to step in – do all his work on top of what I already have. No violent reactions as that’s how it works here. When I go for vacation, one of them has to do my work too. 

Before I delve in into my tasks for today, and there are so many, I had to take a few minutes to write this post.

I’ve been seriously people watching in the Metro on my commute lately. It’s a short ride, only 10 minutes to be exact but every day, there are stories to share. I usually share what I see on Twitter but today, I simply have to write it here where I wouldn’t need to care of the 140 character limit. 

I am greedy for more characters today.

As the train door started closing, a mom carrying a child, I think about my son’s age (3 years old). The boy had soft curly hair and was rubbing his eyes. He was still wearing his sleep wear and a Crocs slip-ons so anyone can tell he was just pulled off from his bed and taken outside. With an apologetic look in her eyes, the mom felt obliged to tell the person seated next to her as her boy wriggled through the seat that “I have to drop him off earlier today at a friend’s house. We have no maid. He is still very sleepy and we had no time to change his pajamas.”

This is the thing: Dubai looks so glamorous in the glossy pages of travel brochures and magazines. People constantly assume everyone who lives here is rich, driving big fancy cars and shopping like there’s no tomorrow and do not struggle daily. I started this blog to document our life in Dubai after relocating from Japan eight years ago, to show that there are normal people who commute to work everyday like I do, a working mom juggling career and taking care of kids everyday. And the scene this morning is a reminder that Dubai can be a normal place just like every where else.

That guy who stares at you on the Metro

Dubai metro

It’s very easy to know if I am on the Metro – I tweet. A lot. I think in any city, getting into the Metro always presents a chance to tell a story. There is always a story to tell, and being in the metro in Dubai is no exception.

On Sundays to Thursdays, a couple of hours in the morning and again in the afternoon (during rush hours), the Dubai Metro has two “women and children only” carriages however, there are so many complaints from commuters of men who seem to miss the signs. Now, the signs are bigger and bolder and it’s not just the yellow line inside, they changed it to this eye catching pink color, both the line and an added a full window poster.

A few days ago, I was on the Red Line on a rush hour in the evening. I was lucky to be able to get a seat in the women only carriage but saw that so many men are coming in. There used to be a Metro staff inside these exclusive carriages who call out these men to go out and transfer or else be slapped with a AED200  fine but lately,  there’s no one.

My journey will take me about 20 minutes so while others are Candy Crushin, I closed my eyes. No tweeting today, I thought. After a few minutes, I hear the lady beside me speak in a very loud voice. (Did I mention, there’s always something to tweet??)

“What is your problem? Why are you staring at me like that?”

She directed it to one of the two men seated across us. There were many other men standing inside that women only carriage, especially there’s a big event at World Trade Center but she was only referring to that man across us.

“Do you want me to push this button?! I only need to push this button! (referring to the emergency button)

Now, the woman got everyone’s attention.

“Get up! You are sitting this is the ladies section!

The other man, a friend of that guy who was suspected with “staring” smiled. And the lady went for him too.

“Do you think this is funny, huh? What is funny?”

It was so awkward. The lady was really going at it and asked the two men to leave the carriage…the train was still moving.

As much as I wanted to know how that rife ended, I had to get down to my station. But REALLY? What would you do if you caught someone staring at you in a crowded, public space? Would you make a scene like that? I think I would be the one to leave. I need opinions. Discuss.

For anyone curious, the lady was not a local. She spoke Hindi over the phone earlier into our journey. She did not wear any scarf over her head or an abaya. The two men weren’t locals as well but I would guess Arab expats.