Being a Geordie in Dubai

Paul Clifford finds that his Geordie accent is more difficult to decipher than he thought

The Knowledge

It’s two months and a week since my wife and I landed in Dubai. Even before we were off the plane we had friends in the UK putting us in touch with their pals over here so we could go to a Friday brunch. Now I don’t need to tell you that brunch in the UK is a totally different concept to brunch in Dubai. In fact, as a Northerner, brunch in any form is very much an alien concept. Let’s get this straight before we move on. In the North East of England there are three meals a day: breakfast, dinner and tea. No brunch, no lunch.

So imagine my surprise when I was told that a Dubai brunch is less eggs Benedict and smoked salmon with coffee and more all-you-can-eat buffet with unlimited grape and hops. I was sold on the idea immediately; it was the dining experience I’ve been waiting 33 years for.

We made plans to meet with our new-found friends and they told us to book ahead because it’s very popular, so excitedly, I rang. ‘Two for brunch please’, I said. ‘Brunch’. ‘B.r.u.n.c.h.’.

Needless to say, we didn’t get booked in and the chance to meet our new friends and enjoy the culinary delights of a Dhs600-a-head afternoon meal had come and gone.

In the next few days I realised it was my flat Northern vowels that were causing the problem. And it wasn’t just when I was on the phone trying to book a table at a restaurant. My new colleagues at Time Out Dubai also seemed to struggle to understand me.

Thankfully before long I met up with someone from my town, finally someone who knew what I was saying. From there I met Geordies (from Newcastle) and Mackems (from Sunderland) almost everywhere I went. We could chat about all the important things from back home, like Byker Grove, whippets and
coal mining.

Suddenly Dubai understood me and I was getting to understand Dubai. I learned to speak a little slower and more clearly and things became easier. My wife and I explored the old town, rode the Metro and even to the horror of some friends, caught the bus to places.

It’s such a fast-paced city that we haven’t been able to stop for breath. We love it and are finding more things to enjoy all the time. Unfortunately we still haven’t been for that brunch, but now the language barrier has been broken down, perhaps it’s time to try and book again. So haway the lads, we’re ganning doon the toon the neet. You’re all with me, right?

Paul Clifford is our Guides & Supplements editor. None of us have a clue what he’s saying most of the time.

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