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  • Writer's pictureRoshan Dhanasekar

What’s Dubai All About? A Traveller’s Guide

Updated: Jun 23, 2019

I was born and raised in Chennai, but my roots came from Kerala. By the time I was 5 years old, I could understand and speak in 4 languages. Malayalam being my mother tongue and brought up under a healthy diet of colonials tales about from Kerala by my grandmother, there was something that stuck with me - the urge to explore the unexplored, to learn the unknown.

And in the stories that were narrated to know, a lot of it had to do with the people she grew up with or the people that she knew of back home. She told me stories about agriculture and farming has been an integral part in her life because she was a woman and how going to faraway lands to support the families back home has been a man's duty. And as she narrated these stories, one word stuck with me - Gulf. That's where most Malayalees went to earn money and to make a livelihood for the people back home.

All of this sounded very fascinating to me and I had made my mind that when I grow up, I'd go to Gulf - if not to work, at least to see what's out there. This was when I was 5 years old.

After 16 years, at the age of 21 I was presented with the opportunity to go to Dubai for a month and the 5-year-old self was excited. I grabbed it by its neck and set out on an exploratory journey.

What is Dubai all about?

I believe Dubai to be everyone's land. An estimate shows that over 2 million Indians live in Dubai, constituting to 27 percent of the total population of Dubai, while only 15 percent native residents live in the city and the rest are expats. This mere fact boggles my mind and is truly one of the sources for people's livelihood from all over the world.

Even before I landed in this beautiful city, I was determined that I'd want to explore this city to its fullest and the since I was by myself, it gave me the advantage of planning my own day without having to think about anything or anyone else. I didn't have a fixed itinerary, but to explore the city was in my itinerary.

As cliche it might sound, I chose to stay in Bur Dubai and it didn't feel like I was in a different country because this place was filled with Indians - mostly Malayalees. And to my boon, I felt like home in a far away land. I had the chai that I always wanted and for some weird reason, it felt like I knew everyone - it made the 21-year-old self comfortable.

But what I realised instantly was that not all jobs here were fancy or promised 6 digit income - but people had the zeal do any job, irrespective of their profile or where they came from to earn their bread and butter. The struggle for many was real, but there was a purpose to it.

As I took a stroll one evening through the streets of Bur Dubai, I stopped to have a chai and wanted to ask the person at the cash counter how he felt to work in a city like this, and he said "it feels good. Though not everyone in the city earns a lot at one time, it sure does give us the money to make a livelihood here and for the people back at home. This is a city where dreams come true and for me it is about giving the giving my family back home the luxury they haven't experienced before, and I'm content."

From my observations,

Dubai is one of the most fast growing, luxurious and celebrated city, it is possible for a common man to find a job and live here depending upon their spending and saving attitude.

Public transports like metro, bus and taxies are the common ways to commute around the city and you can access all of it with the help of NOL Card commute becomes easy. These cards also act as the access cards at various other venues and all you have to do is recharge it as and when you exhaust the credit.

Dubai is a city of skyscrapers, so if someone told you that it’s possible to see Burj Khalifa from wherever you are, trust me, it’s not true.

Dubai is very international - you'll find people from all over the world, and when I was here, I noticed that you'll definitely question your fashion choices. People are always dressed up, especially those who are in the corporate sector.

Accommodating people from all around the world has for sure given the city an international feel and this paves way for people to have an international experience no matter where you come from.

It is important to follow the rules and regulations laid down by the Government. Failing of which, one will be fined or jailed or deported back to your country. So, the next time you're in Dubai make sure to follow the signals and only cross the road when the pedestrian sign is ON.

The city in itself is a style icon. Being international attracts people from all around the world and one of the things that we tourists do is click pictures. But you should know that it's not permitted to click pictures of people with their knowledge or permission.

Pornography is a strict No-No.

Sexual assault and paedophilia is a strict No-No (guess that should be a strict No-No-No everywhere and just not in the Arab countries).

Do not mess with the police force and locals here, for your own benefits.

As a matter of fact, the traffic signals are computerised and functions automatically, hence there are no cops at the signal - but this doesn't mean that they do not have an eye monitoring you. Adhere to the traffic rules and you'll be caught if you violate the rules.

Smoking in public is not an offense, but make sure that you do that in the designated place in order to keep the city clean. Every waste bin in public has an ashtray, thus the question of where to smoke and where to dispose is clear.

Now that you're clear about the dos' and don'ts', go ahead and enjoy the city.

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