Life In Dubai Since 2004

I came to Dubai for the first time in 2002 when I was working in Saudi Arabia. I and my colleagues used to come over for the weekend to take a break.

I had fallen in love with the city, so much mystery and excitement! So when the opportunity came to move here permanently, I came. So I arrived in September 2004 and lived in Mirdif for 3 months, and then I went to Dubai Marina. In 2002, the Marina had only just started construction with the foundations in.

By 2004, the first 6 Emaar Towers were ready and I moved in there and stayed for another 3 months. It was very different back then, of course, very few towers had even started construction and JLT was still in the planning phase. My fiancée came to join me in February 2005 and we got married at Christ Church Jebel Ali in December of that year.

We moved to a villa opposite the Jumeirah Beach hotel and stayed there for 2 years. It was great as we had a big garden, swimming pool, and free fireworks from the Burj Al Arab on a regular basis, including for our wedding party! After that, we moved to Al Barsha, just behind the Mall Of The Emirates.

It was much quieter back then and as time went by we saw it grow and grow. It was a good place to live because we could walk to the Mall Of The Emirates, Lulus Hypermarket and there were many restaurants and other places to explore. Traffic was an issue due to the school but we enjoyed it. When the metro opened it became even more useful as we could walk to there to catch the train. I have always preferred taking the train as opposed to driving in Dubai.

One of my favourite memories in Dubai was my 40th birthday at the original Hard Rock Cafe. For those who are new to Dubai, this used to be in a separate building on Sheik Zayed Road, down on the right-hand side as you drove to Abu Dhabi. It was located just before the Dubai Marina. It was a real landmark with its massive guitars mounted outside. Sadly it was taken down and moved to the festival city a few years ago.

Anyway, I was invited there for my 40th birthday with my wife and friends. There was live music band and we had the table next to the stage. I was, of course, enjoying my evening and having ‘one to many’ as they say. At one point I got up to go to the bathroom. As I am washing my hands this lady comes into the male toilet speaking on a microphone. She was looking for me and wanted to me to follow her. Everyone could hear the conversation as she took me outside and on to the stage.

It was my birthday and I was going to ‘suffer’ for it. So, whilst quite drunk at this time, I had to stand on the stage and dance to the next track. Three other ‘volunteers’ also joined me and what followed was legendary. I don’t remember much but I got a standing ovation for it at the end. Fortunately none of my friends had brought their cameras, so there was not record of it. Phew! I am still living here with my family and we still enjoy it. Fourteen years is a long time and the change in the city has been dramatic but it’s resilient and strong, and unique in the world.

Long may it continue to thrive!

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