Yup, we’re moving out of Dubai after nine years. But it’s not what you think. The timing of it seems to coincide with Trump’s despicable Muslim Ban (a smokescreen for even scarier things to come) on several countries in the region. While geopolitical events were a slight concern when I moved to the emirate nine years ago, those concerns quickly dissipated. I continually write and tell everyone that I’ve never felt safer in all my 43 countries of travel than I do here. The decision to relocate was taken last summer, before that orange monster was even elected. I never thought he would win.
Before I get into why we’re moving out of Dubai, I want to clear up a few points. Dubai has been extremely good to me. Truth is, I will miss it dearly. Some in my personal and professional network with a slight “conservative” bend have said “Glad you’re getting out of there.” I kinda want to say to them “please shut up” because I know why they’re saying it.
And then there’s my fellow Americans who say “How can you live in a place that has so much cheap labor and where women are oppressed?” Firstly, women are not oppressed in Dubai. They hold high positions in government and corporations, a majority of the female population don’t and are not forced to where burkas and many women are outspoken and have fulfilling careers and social lives.
My second reply to these self righteous folk are: “America was built on the backs of immigrants. And how can YOU live in a place where the government can’t provide basic health care for all its’ citizens, neglect veterans that are sent off to fight unnecessary wars and then have to deal with mass shootings every month on a school campus or at a movie theatre? And where work life balance is so skewed in one direction that most people are burnt out by the time they’re 40? Answer me that. How long has America been considered a super power?” We’re not moving back there, at least not now. You’ll be seeing a lot more posts on my new country of residence very soon.
It may not sound like it but I have tremendous love for the States. It’s because I love it that I’m critical of it. And I really hope this buffoonery is not a big part of her legacy. I was born and raised in America, I went to school there, I worked there, my closest life friends are there. My immediate and some extended family are there. And I continually admire how the American bleeding heart spirit seems to permeate the rest of the world. However, so many are grossly informed and with preconceived notions about what living in Dubai is like. Read 10 Dumb Questions About Living in Dubai.
I commend Sheikh Mohammed for building this beautiful city into what it has become. No emerging market is perfect and without growing pains but he is striving to make it the best that he can: a transparent, cosmopolitan and international hub welcoming to many. I still get butterflies every time I cruise down the main highway, music blasting and wind in my hair, and spot that incredible skyline. It’s stunning and I feel privileged for having been a part of building it and watching it grow.
If it’s not already clear, I’m not Muslim. My background or religion has never garnered ill treatment from anyone here. In fact, I won a lawsuit against a former employer of Muslim faith (not Arab before you start making judgments) for dishonoring certain financial terms in my employment contract. So, in my experience, the laws and governmental bodies in Dubai are very supportive and objective.
So Here’s Why We’re Moving Out of Dubai
We’re moving out of Dubai because my husband and I would like to start a family. We realize being closer to relatives is the right thing for us. Dubai is also a very transient city. We’ve said goodbye to more than a few really close friends over the years. In your mid thirties making new friends takes a whole new level of energy that I just don’t have as much of anymore. I’ll need to make friends in my new home. But hopefully there will be a greater sense of location permanence with them and with our future kids’ friends.
Some other less important reasons we’re moving out of Dubai:
- I miss the change of season – its f’ng hot here in the summer and warm all year round. It was great the first few years but I want to see the leaves change color in the fall and more rain dammit
- I miss having abundant supplies of fresh and organic produce, especially since I suffer from food allergies. Dubai has local produce but its limited. And organic produce is available but its pricey
- And most importantly, I don’t want my kid asking me for a rolex when they’re 14 🙂 Just kidding (sort of)
Stay tuned for posts about Why I’ll Miss Dubai! Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.
Thanks for Reading.
Ahh and so a new chapter is about to begin, what an exciting time ahead but maybe a little busy/stressful right now while you organize your move! I am excited for you and look forward to following your travels in your new home.
Thanks Katie! Hopefully we can meet up somewhere in Italy!
I love Dubai! Coincidentally I almost moved there, would you believe, 9 years ago! I have family that do live there, so when I visit I see a different side to the city than a tourist. I also spend quite a bit of time trying to dispel some of the myths that surround it to others here at home in Australia. I had to laugh at the Rolex comment, I understand your concern. One of my young relatives, Miss 9, recently had a mini-tantrum because she had to fly in economy (dad is an Emirates pilot so nearly always fly business) Her mum was very quick to pull her up on that behaviour!
Haha, that is hysterical and oh so Dubai! What made you decide against moving?
As an expat ex-American I share your views about the state of the US.
Thank you, glad I’m not the only one! 🙂
I have moved quite a lot of times and it has so far included 3 countries, so I can definitely imagine the moving being a big step, a change and also a somewhat painful experience. I truly hope you’ll find and achieve whatever you want after your move! P.s. I have no idea how I’d survive the heat of Dubai, I’m so in love with mild Irish temperatures! 😀
Im definitely not looking forward to the logistics of the move. i hate packing! the trick to deal with the summertime heat in Dubai is to take all your vacation time then and travel 😉
I also think the changes in weather is really important! Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck on your new life in a new place!
What a great post. And your title is so captivating! Thanks for sharing this personal piece, I really enjoyed it 🙂
I really appreciate the time you took to mention immigration and what’s happening to the USA. As an American living abroad myself, it’s horrific seeing what’s happening to my home country and it’s a constant struggle to try and enlighten some people back home about what other countries are REALLY like. Best of luck to you in your new journey!
Thank you, appreciate the well wishes. It is very sad and there’s so much policy aside from immigration that is truly alarming too. I used to have educate people back home about Dubai but now its more telling people abroad that a lot of people in the States don’t agree with with this fascist behavior either.
Oh wow! You’re moving out of Dubai? I remember receiving a comment from you when I left Doha last year and you said that you’re thinking of moving as well but didn’t realize that it would be so soon. A lot of people have said that they’re leaving Dubai and after 3 years, they’re still there. So I thought it’ll take time as well for you too.
I do agree on everything you’ve said about Dubai and also the reasons that you have for moving out are the exact same reasons that I had why I moved out of the Middle East in general. We’re also planning to start a family and I don’t think I’d like to raise a child in Dubai – I have no money for rolex and also, it’s not a place where you can/will settle down and grow your roots as a family. More than the place itself, I do miss the friends I’ve made there. In our 30’s, we’re very selective now when it comes to making friends and when you do bond with someone at this age, it’s something that will definitely last for a long time.
Good luck on your new journey! 🙂
Hey you! Appreciate the words, thank you. Yeah leaving, it’s been 9 years so I think it’s time:) I thought the same thing in the beginning, that I would only be here for 2 years but it lasted a lot longer than that! I hear you on the kids thing. I know a lot of couples raising children in Dubai but there are still some dynamics that I’m not 100% comfortable with. And absolutely, the whole not being able to plant roots because life is tied to an employment visa is a bummer. Most of the long timers I know here (meaning 20+ years) have their own business so the employment visa doesn’t concern them as much. All the friends we said goodbye too was tough but we’re still close and have an excuse to meetup somewhere else in the world now 🙂 I wish you the best of luck too hon!
Interesting insight into life in Dubai. I’m a teacher and it’s definitely a place I’ve considered to make some good money. I wish you all the best with your future plans 🙂
Thank you, I appreciate that. There is certainly high demand for education professionals here, especially in Abu Dhabi. And yeah, well paid 🙂
Where are you moving next? I have visited Dubai only once, in a layover between flights and I have to say that I had a great experience. I found it a bit strange, it is in the end a city man made in the dessert. All the people I met were very friendly though. I don’t know if I would be able to live there because of all the artificial things, but I wouldn’t mind to be in a place where is hot and summer all the time. Regarding what you said about America… it is really sad what is happening right now in the entire world. And Trump, he’s a yoyo who won’t last too long as president, not with this attitude and views.
Hi Joanna, We’re moving to Italy to be closer to my husbands family. I’m glad you got to visit Dubai. Totally normal to have that reaction. But i will say daily life is different than when on holiday. There are green areas, parks, community spaces etc that many people don’t get to see when only here for a few days. As for the weather, it was definitely great for a while but after 9 years, Im ready to experience fall again in all its glory 🙂 Agree on Trump, think he’ll be impeached very soon and a large number of people certainly don’t support his rhetoric and actions! Thank goodness.
Very interesting post! I didn’t know kids were looking for standards like this over here.. Is it that snob over here???
Im smiling because you chose to comment on that and the one thing I was being facetious about 🙂 It is not anymore snobby than any other big city where more emphasis is given to living a nice lifestyle but I want my future kid(s) to really know the value of money. And Dubai can be a place where thats a bit tougher to do as a parent. You will see kids in high school driving very nice cars to school. But not everyone is rich and there are certainly down to earth people with very humble lifestyles.
I work (remotely) with a lot of regional expats based in Dubai, but have never been myself. I recognise something in your description that’s similar to Oman, where I do travel to occasionally for work (although people tend to say Dubai is more materialistic). I agree, there surely will be things to pick at, but when you bear in mind that these places were fishing villages not too long ago, you gotta give the people in charge some credit. I hope you love your next home too.
Exactly. Thank You. I do admit that Dubai can be materialistic but not everyone is like that. It still does have that very “shiny and new” appeal to many but I’ve seen tremendous strides in community building these last few years. P.S. I absolutely love Oman, go there every couple of months 🙂