Notes to self

Remember the day you first set foot in Dubai? What tips would you pass on to your old self? Read on for some (mostly) wise words from Becky Lucas

The Knowledge

Remember the day you first set foot in Dubai? What tips would you pass on to your old self? Read on for some (mostly) wise words from Becky Lucas

After seven pretty phenomenal years in this superlative-stirring sandy city, I’m heading back to London. It’s not Dubai, it’s me – I need to spend some time closer to my family. But this column isn’t about me, it’s about you.

Last weekend, a friend of a friend asked me what advice I’d give her, as a week-long resident of the UAE.

I stalled, screwed up my face, and eventually mumbled something about air miles and standing orders. Fortunately for you, however, I’ve now had some time to ponder on it, and am ready to pass on a few nuggets, Baz-Luhrmann-style, that I would have said to the me of 2006 (or the me of 2008 who went a little off piste for a while…).

I was serious about the air miles. Living at the ‘centre of the world’, as we all like to – admittedly, slightly arrogantly – describe Dubai, you’ll hopefully find yourself travelling even more than you imagined, and the odd accrued free flight and business class sandwich makes a difference.

Visit Istanbul, Sri Lanka and Beirut (after checking your embassy site at each…). The latter is a must, even if only so you can agree wholeheartedly the next time one of the city’s more glamorous community regales you with tales of its beauty.

Now for the serious bit: the standing order thing is key. Enjoy as many brunches and beach clubs as you like, as long as that set amount is moving from your current to your savings each pay day (and at least try not to move it back again mid-month…).

The summers get easier the more you live through. Plus, extra daylight after work is hard to beat – as are The Killing and Modern Family box sets.

Try not to get too sad when good people leave. They’re not dying.

And they’ll probably invite you to a wedding in a great holiday destination in a year or two.

Don’t patronise people whose English isn’t fluent. Arabic is the official UAE language, after all.

Have a plan, so you don’t ever start to feel like you’re just drifting through buffets. But don’t worry when that plan changes. You’ll know when it’s the right time to go, or stay – or come back again.

Talking of buffets (and this one’s crucial): always walk a full circuit before committing anything to your dish. Because no one should eat sushi with baked beans.

Never forget that expat circles are freakishly small.

Compare Dubai to itself and nowhere else, because there is nowhere like it.

And next time some foreign journo decides to sink their teeth into the place after a mere fleeting stopover, be sure to give them merry hell.

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