Where do I begin … as the famous song goes! Born (before the UAE was formed) and brought up in Dubai, to a medium income family, that is to say, we were not expats! Although we were in many ways, choosing to leave our home country to work in another.
My parents worked hard and provided for every need and some adventurous holidays too which opened our eyes to the world beyond the Middle East. Dubai was starting to develop and as much as it was pretty much a ghost town, I miss those days. It’s been wonderful to see Dubai’s growth and sometimes, I wish it would stop, but I guess like most developed cities, it’s keeping up, perhaps surpassed some.
Growing up in Dubai, we had the perfect blend of East and West. Our parents helped us appreciate our culture; they didn’t force it down our throats but were very mindful of ways and customs and we adapted them well into the new culture that has become Dubai. And growing up within a multi-cultural environment kept us rooted in our own. Everyone was from somewhere else but it did not matter. I grew up in a safe and secure, westernized city, with all the mod-cons, and privileges that the West had, but thankfully within the confines of our culture.
My father was a photographer and had taken many pictures of Dubai’s amazing development, I wish I knew where these treasures were, to share them with my own children. I had the privilege of working in the tallest building in the Middle East for over 30 years – the Dubai World Trade Centre. In the 90’s, that was superseded by the Emirates Towers, and eventually by the tallest building in the world, just down the road.
I grew up with many conveniences, such as free healthcare (back in the ‘70s and 80’s) that many first world countries long for. I love that shops are open till late, giving people the option of enjoying life after work. I’m astounded that in the middle of Dubai, exists a 10 lane highway, surrounded by the most distractingly beautiful modern architecture. If you visit Dubai Museum, a video documenting Dubai’s development highlights the fact that centuries of development has occurred in just five decades. Simply remarkable. Some might say that comes at the expense of lack of history, but what’s happening in Dubai is historical in itself. They are making their own history.
There are many aspects of Dubai that people don’t get, but if you look hard, especially around Deira Creek area, you can still feel the energy of the REAL Dubai and where it all started. To me, and my family, this is the heart and essence of Dubai. You don’t really get Dubai until you’ve been in this part and understand its humble yet strong beginnings. I eventually got married and left, as an expat of all things, but continue to visit every year to see my family and friends. The city’s further growth is nothing short of stupendous and I’m proud to call Dubai my home. It just is! 😀