I am slowly but surely reaching my 3rd year in Dubai so I feel it is time to look back at those three years and see what I have learnt.
Everybody says Dubai is like Uni: people come and go, everybody is young and dynamic, the city has a life and energy of it's own and if you want, you can be out every evening. I do agree with that, it feels like I went from one city of light (Paris) to an other. But I never really had the Uni experience back in France and I was partially raised up abroad so I guess it wasn't all new to me. I was lucky enough to meet amazing people, friends that I call my Dubai family, these are the guys I can call if I'm in trouble and I am grateful to have them in my life. But as much as I enjoy Dubai's social life, going from one party to an other isn't really for me.
Lots of parisian friends are pretty wary about Dubai, they find it too shiny, which I get. So I thought after three years in the sandpit it was time to share my experience.
I am curious so my first year in the UAE was mostly spent trying everything I could: parties, galas, art opening, BBQs, brunches, it was a social whirlwind (except during Ramadan, I think even non Muslims are grateful for that quiet time that allows them to calm down).
Now the second year I had settled in, I knew my way around town (well, as much as someone with a poor sense of orientation can know her way), I had found good spots, good people, so I felt confident enough to quit my job, that was a big step but it probably saved some of my friendships.
The third year, I felt like cocooning. I disappeared from the social scene and focused on art, HOB and friends. I think the third year felt like a real year. No more whirlwind. Social life yes, but curated, and that is a nice balance. I do love Dubai, it's energy, it's sunshine, it's enthusiasm, it's professional opportunities (yes I eventually went back to corporate life, Oh Joy!), I miss good ol'Europ and it's kilos of vintage stuff, but I wouldn't trade my sunny life for the world. I think people who haven't experienced full on sunshine 24/7 don't realise how energising it is.
So cheer up Paris, you haven't lost me to shiny loud Dubai, I just need a little bit more sunshine than you can offer.