Grab a party hat, folks: celebrations are in order. On this very week four years ago, I arrived in Dubai. The date was September 3 2008 and, like many before me, I was planning to live here for ‘two years’.
Six months earlier, during a trip to visit my then Dubai-based parents, I made the decision to pack up life in Australia and make this emirate my home. Four years on, I still enjoy telling people that my journey from Sydney to Dubai took two months. But before you start cracking jokes about a woman’s sense of direction, let me reveal that my journey to Dubai incorporated a few not-so-logical stops en route (Brazil, Nicaragua, New York, London and Croatia), before I landed in the sandpit with a killer tan, a broken suitcase and a very laid-back ‘traveller’ view on life.
This leisurely start to my big move was just a taste of what was to come. Many people say that living in Dubai is like being on holiday for 365 days a year. While I can’t quite claim the same, the opportunity for regular travel is one of the many reasons I’ve overstayed my two-year stint.
There have been plenty of highlights during my time here – so many that it’s impossible to count them all – but a quick trawl of my Facebook timeline reveals that my first year consisted of conga lines (with my mum) at Yalumba brunch, landing a job before the credit crunch (and managing to keep it), attending a ‘secret party’ in Abu Dhabi (aka getting stranded on a far-off island) and going to my first Dubai Rugby Sevens tournament.
In my second year here, I took advantage of Dubai’s status as a travel hub, heading to New York and Las Vegas, Tanzania (accompanied by my remarkable 85-year-old grandpa), and Abu Dhabi to see Kings of Leon play at the F1 concerts. During my third year, I juggled a freelance career with yet more travel (LA, San Francisco, New Zealand and Morocco), saw Kanye West and Prince play, and watched my sister walk down the aisle in Australia.
And I still can’t quit this place. In my fourth year, I landed my dream job at Time Out Dubai, celebrated my dad’s 60th birthday in Sri Lanka, travelled to Petra with my best friend, saw a Beatle in concert (and it wasn’t Ringo!), moved into my own apartment, bought a car, jumped out of a plane, and marked my 30th birthday in Bali. It’s fair to say that Dubai has been a springboard to some amazing experiences, from jet-set travel to great gigs. Two years wasn’t long enough to get the best from Dubai, and I’m sure five won’t be either.
Jenny Hewett is our Shopping & Style and Art & Culture editor. She’s currently planning her next holiday.