Whenever I read a column or opinion piece on, ‘You know you’ve been in Dubai too long when…’ my heart sinks. However, last week I found myself thinking along these lines, when my in-laws came to visit for the first time.
I’ve only been in Dubai eight months, but it already feels like home and the butterflies that were in my tummy when my wife and I first landed are long gone. So are the memories of hassle with bank loans, DEWA and estate agents. Thankfully that all seems like a long time ago.
I’m sure it has felt like an eternity for my mother and father-in-law – eight months since I stole away their little girl (she has two younger siblings, but I don’t think it’s as simple as that) for a new life in a far-off land; one they had no idea about.
They’re both in their late 60s and enjoy travelling, but have never been to the Middle East and weren’t sure about it at all. I took it upon myself to arrange a few things for us to do, determined to show them what a fantastic, multicultural, exciting city we live in.
They were staying at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on the Palm Jumeirah, so at least I knew they’d be living in luxury. I showed them around our apartment in Al Barsha – not up to the same standards as their hotel, but we like it. My mother-in-law’s first comment was that she was happy to see where we live, as she was scared about the security. That’s a lovely thought, but I’m pretty sure we now live in the safest city we’ve ever been to, with 24-hour security on the door.
There were no such concerns for our security (as far as I know) when we were living in flats in the less salubrious areas of Sunderland or Newcastle in the North East of England, working as crime reporters for local newspapers, regularly being in the same room as murderers, knocking on the doors of criminals or their victims with no-one to protect us.
After they’d checked the locks and interrogated the security guards we left for afternoon tea at At.mosphere in the Burj Khalifa – something I was sure they’d enjoy, forgetting the mother-in-law is terrified of heights.
After initial wobbles looking out the window at the view across the city, we all thoroughly enjoyed it. As I looked across the landscape of my new home, from the tallest building in the world, sipping sparkling grape juice with gold flakes in it, I thought to myself, ‘What an amazing thing to be able to show my family. Who could take this view for granted?’ And I vowed never to fall into the trap of becoming a Dubai expat cliché.
Paul Clifford is our guides and supplements editor. He’d be happy to take your in-laws out for tea.