Finding Zen, Dubai-style

In a city where stress can be a default setting, Claire Gasby chooses not to let it bother her

The Knowledge

Patience is a virtue, so they say, and certainly one that I didn’t possess before I made Dubai my home. After six years in this city, however, you could say I’ve learned the art of patience the hard way (or the long, slow way, to be precise).

It wasn’t an easy change. That crazy lady with steam coming out of her ears during a Sheikh Zayed Road gridlock? That was probably me. The one hopping up and down and tutting anxiously at the back of a bank queue? Yup, me again. The one cursing into her mobile phone over a missed meeting? Okay, you get the picture.

But somewhere along the way, something clicked. I’d like to think it was around my two-year mark, when I started thinking of the city as a place to settle down, rather than just another destination on my travels. Or perhaps it was more of a slow shift into a different gear. You might assume it had something to do with growing up, getting married and having a family, but trust me, if you met the little live wires that live under my roof, you’d see that’s not the case.

Over the years, I’ve come to love the sound of ‘inshallah’, and enjoy, rather than decry, the prospect of a traffic jam on the way to work. That’s because it forces me to take a deep breath and step away from the rat race for a few minutes. Life is fast-paced enough in a city like Dubai, whether you’re working hard or socialising harder, and sometimes the opportunity to reflect, no matter how it is foisted upon you, is a blessing in disguise.

Like anywhere else in the world I could choose to live, there will always be things about Dubai that mess with my mojo – unnecessary red tape, rude shop assistants, careless drivers, late nights at work – but when it comes to saving sanity, why sweat the small stuff? Losing my cool isn’t going to get things done any differently, or get me where I want to go any faster – the only thing I’ll achieve is high blood pressure and a sore throat from all the shouting. Why waste your energy running up an escalator the wrong way when it’s so much easier to just go with the flow? So next time you see a lone person grinning like an idiot at the back of a huge checkout queue in Carrefour, or contentedly waiting their turn in a long line of cars (rather than zooming to the front to push in), smile and give them a wave – it’s probably me. *waves back*

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