My initial impressions of Dubai are based on 2 visits and now over a week of living here. After MONTHS of preparing for the move and talking to folks about our family moving here, I was amazed at how many connections to Dubai are out there. People who used to live here, travel here for work, have friends/family here...the list goes on and on. In fact, during one of my visits to Dubai, my parents were staying in Katy with the kids and my Dad ran into 4-5 people with Dubai connections in his visit alone. He thought we should call Katy the "Dubai West" ha!
When I first visited Dubai in September, it was still the tail end of the summer season. Summer in Dubai = HOT as you've never experienced it before. Of course, September isn't even the worst of it but it was definitely hot and humid. I didn't notice the temperature because it felt exactly the same to me as the Houston area. But when Jeff started working here in August, it was regularly hitting 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit with overnight temps in the low 100s. So yes, I'd say that's HOT.
My initial impression of the city was the haze in the sky. Even though the sky was clear with no clouds (I've rarely seen clouds so far until now in December), you couldn't see the skyline in the distance very well because it was just so hazy. Not sure if that's the desert climate or pollution or what?
But then there are other times when the haze dissipates and sky is a beautiful blue backdrop to the skyscrapers in every direction. That was one of my other initial impressions -- the incredible urban views from so many areas in the city. Here is a collection of photos from various locations from our house-hunting and sightseeing.
How cool is it to have these views from your rooftop balcony, school playground, and workout room? Everywhere I turned, it seemed like I could see an iconic landmark or amazing skyline view. The Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa were, of course, two of our favorite towers to show the kids who had seen these in all of their Dubai google searches.
Another initial impression of Dubai was easily finding the comforts of home everywhere you turn. It can be a scary thought realizing that your new home is in the Middle East, at least it was for me because I've been a Texas girl my entire life. My research was reassuring because I discovered that many of my favorite stores and restaurants existed in Dubai -- because let's face it, MY comforts of home revolve primarily around shopping and food! I knew that I'd find many favorites, but seeing them in person definitely helped me know that I'd be able to make my way around the city sights that were initially unknown and foreign.
Knowing that one of my comforts from home is shopping, I felt right at home when Jeff and I first visited the world's largest mall, the Dubai Mall. It has over 1200 stores and its very own app with GPS feature to help you find what you're looking for with step by step directions! After 3 visits there, I've still only seen a small part of it but I look forward to learning my way around that amazing place. Of course, the Dubai Mall is only one of the many (hundreds?) of malls around Dubai. In addition to the malls, you'll also find many local indoor/outdoor marketplaces known as "souqs" which offer great shopping as well. Seeing so many brand names I recognize from back home helped me embrace Dubai and feel more at home here in my new city.
Below are some photos from our initial visits to Dubai. Disclaimer: please know that the pictures of fast food places are not MY comforts of home, lol! Those were photos that Jeff took on one of his first city outings to show the kids they would like it here. Their comforts are quite different from ours, ha!
Probably the most impactful initial impression I had of Dubai was, of course, the experience of the gorgeous beaches. It's no secret that Jeff and I are beach people. Any chance we get to take a vacation, we usually choose a beach over anything else. During my first visit to Dubai, Jeff kept saying, "Let's go to the beach!" but I would make an excuse here and there because it was too hot or I was too tired to deal with sand, ha!
We finally made the short trip (the beach is just a few minutes from where Jeff works and where we now live) to one of the local beaches and... well, I can honestly say, THAT'S what sealed the deal for me to move to this incredible city. For our entire marriage, we've daydreamed about living closer to the water and the beach. On that day, I walked down to the shore of Jumeirah Beach, just a local spot with no fanfare or boardwalks or even restroom facilities. I took it all in, knowing with certainty at that moment that this was our new city and we would finally have a chance to be "beach people" like we'd always envisioned.
Below are some of my first Dubai beach pics, which I hesitate to share because they're terrible iPhone 6 photos, but that's all I had!
DPNs and Reindeer Fun!
3 days ago