some baseline observations on having been in Dubai for a week.
I lived in the melting pot known as San Francisco for six years, but San Francisco is a child’s primary colours in contrast to the spectrum of people Dubai hosts. To my delight, I made my first friend from Iran last night–born, raised, and only here for his master’s. I’m learning to stop exclaiming when I meet someone from Egypt, or from Saudi Arabia, or from Palestine. Less then ten percent of Dubai is native. For the first time, I’m meeting people who, similarly to me, are unsure how to respond when asked where they’re from. This is by far one of the most outstanding aspects of Dubai, though it’s sometimes overwhelming to find so many people from such varying backgrounds–I’ve realised I don’t even know what I want to know about and ask of everyone. I’m unfortunately not going to become proficient in Arabic here; I’ve yet to encounter someone who hasn’t spoken English.
The general atmosphere of Dubai is very laid-back, and everyone is pleasant and eager to answer questions. In regards to culture especially, people are open to inquiries. Many people on the streets are hesitant to make eye contact, and a lot of people are professional with the busy vibe, yet even these people will aid anyone who finds themselves lost.
My sunglasses fog up with condensation each time I walk outside due to the miserable heat and humidity. After a summer hiking in Utah, I thought I’d be more accustomed to this weather; however, even a short walk to the nearby marina is barely bearable. The university’s outdoor swimming pool is actually closer to a swimming spa than a swimming bath. The dress code, however, is very relaxed, and while I’ve mostly been wearing shirts and leggings with my dresses, I could get away with less.
Tap water isn’t supposed to be for drinking here (though I’m still alive!) and as such almost everyone goes through disposable water bottles at an alarming rate. The university only has approximately three recycling bins. That’s a problem, and irks me to the extreme–I’ve just spent a summer in Zion, where the sale of disposable water is banned.
I am taking five classes as I would in the US, and I am continuing my internship remotely. Nonetheless, I find myself with far fewer commitments than normal and a lot of time to hang out with intriguing people.
And my most favourite part of Dubai yet? The sun. There’s just something about a Middle Eastern sun. I haven’t yet found a favourite sunset place close by the university, but I’m still marvelling at how round and orange it seems as it falls through the sky here.