Give Dubai a break!

Nyree Barrett thinks that expats – herself included – whinge about our city too much

The Knowledge

I’m shouting at the TV, indignant that Simon Cowell has ousted Paige rather than Katie. Such a noisy level of involvement in American Idol indicates I’ve had a bad day. It started with sweat management issues in Al Quoz, peaked with 20 minutes spent attempting to spell out my name to the bank’s call centre (I settled on Larry), and was rounded off by a near-death experience on Business Bay – a white Nissan Sunny swerving in front of me.

After Idol, Dad rather bravely called me for a chat. Identifying said grumpiness he asked what was wrong. ‘It’s just Dubai,’ I replied. ‘You’ve always been moody,’ he countered. ‘How on earth is it now Dubai’s fault?’ Needless to say I didn’t take this well at the time, but Pa has a point.

Dubai takes the rap a lot, not just from the schadenfreude-loving British press, but also from the emirate’s residents. ‘Oh, you have a headache?! Poor thing, it’s the Dubai heat – nothing to do with the party last night.’ ‘You’ve packed on the pounds? Don’t worry, everyone puts on the Dubai stone.’

After a bad day back home in New Zealand, I wouldn’t shun the Lord of the Rings set; instead I’d pinpoint the exact culprit (maybe the ewe I usually rode to work had broken down) and then moan about it until friends had no choice but to zone out. Here, however, there’s an expat condition that sees Dubai as a scapegoat for our endless complaints.

The city is a sandy land mass that houses thousands of people and experiences. Yes, some are infuriating, but let’s reintroduce a sense of perspective. My car windshield was washed while I didn’t pump my own gas this morning, the public toilet I visited offered hand moisturiser and didn’t smell of stale urine, and it’s sunny outside. I had a 20-minute commute after I finished work at 6pm, I capped the evening off with the best curry I’ve ever had, and didn’t have to do my tax returns in front of the TV before bed.

Yes, a shop assistant shouted out ‘no big sizes’ when I was looking for some sweat-patch-free shirts, and yes I missed out on another day of my niece’s first year (she lives in NZ), but the first incident is that nasty woman’s fault and the second is mine: neither should be blamed on Dubai.

All in all I’m feeling good about this more positive attitude, but don’t congratulate me too quickly. Come summer, when the desert becomes a showy, sweaty ode to humidity, the gloves may come off yet again.

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