Some of you might remember a column, on this very page, published in October last year. In it, I explained the charms of living in Dubai’s ‘older half’: the cosmopolitan demographic, the shambolic neon lights, the sense of… home-grown authenticity.
‘I doubt I’ll ever leave my ’hood’ I cried. ‘I love my little corner of Jumeirah Open Beach!’ I protested – too much, it now seems. For, six months on, I’m sick and tired of the 60-minute commute on the metro (that’s two hours a day!).
Now a friend has tipped me off about a rock-bottom-priced fully furnished apartment in Dubai Marina, five minutes from my Media City office, and I’ve, well, sold out.
Looking back, my continuing residence in Satwa didn’t really stand a chance. For starters, there’s that distance from the office. Add to that, the very real dangers of commuting up and down Sheikh Zayed Road every day. A sea of alarming red brake lights confronts me most mornings, signalling yet more crazy driving ahead, whether it be a car that’s attempting to pull across four lanes (without indicating) to stop on the hard shoulder, or, worse, a fatal collision. It’s just not normal to face accident-related traffic jams almost every day. You can’t help thinking that the more times you see the red-brake-light Mexican wave, the more likely you’ll be involved next time.
Add to that, the fact that I’m the very last of my group of friends to leave the area. The migration taking place in this city right now is staggering. Its nucleus has moved in the past couple of years: foodie restaurants in Deira are struggling, clubs in Oud Metha are asking us what’s gone wrong, and every single weekend there’s another reason to head south once again. It’s as though there’s a giant magnet in Jebel Ali (perhaps in the balloon over Ibn Battuta mall?), and we’re all being pulled slowly towards it.
But I still worry about what it will be like living near JBR. ‘Every day feels like a holiday,’ our Brit food editor informs me. ‘It’s only when I review restaurants at the other end of town that I feel like I’m in another country.’
So what will it take for JBR to have some of Satwa’s ‘life’ running through its Lego-style buildings? Shawarma stalls in between The Walk’s coffee shops? More hairdressers with images of moustached men in the windows? If only Ravi’s would deliver its butter chicken I wouldn’t be so concerned.