Saturday, 26 November 2011

Dubai, Do Buy

After having spent a rather longish period relaxing in India as well as travelling around a bit - both in and out of India, finally I have now landed in Dubai.

The aspiring capital of the Middle East, this city is indeed something. While still shiny new in so many ways, it is equally a fast moving multi-cultural city finding its own sense of modernity, while retaining its historical identity. The philosophy of 'big is better' is clearly applied in Dubai is an inescapable fact. The acres of air conditioned shopping malls. The sheer number and scale of stage managed festivals like the intense Dubai Shopping Festival. All so alluring to customers flocking from around the world. Or for that matter, the striking Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest building, says it all about Dubai's ambitions.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Why did I come to Dubai? After 13 years of work, from April this year, I took a real break. Some months down the line, having done what I wanted to, it was time to get back to working full time again. So, after having indulged in a bit of deliberation regarding, where to re-start my career, my conclusion was that I am indeed, quite comfortable working anywhere. Having worked in the Gulf region earlier, it is rather, familiar territory. People - local and expatriate, consumers and marketers, basic infrastructural systems, or for that matter financial remuneration and connectivity with the rest of the world, is all as good as it gets.

I must also admit, that my choice was influenced by my trip to Hong Kong this year, which showcased to me in all its glory what city life can be - throbbing, modern and enthralling. Though there was a discussion with a firm about a Hong Kong based posting, which would have been fantastic, it was taking a bit too long and uncertain. When I thought of market familiarity, Dubai was the closest point of reference, and hence the choice to come here, for as long as possible - on a visit visa, and start the job hunt.

Though, I do not intend this post and future ones to be a chronicle of events that happen to me here, I suspect it may be the case should life evolve in such a fashion. Only time, will tell. Arriving in Dubai a week ago, after having spent months in Kerala, was not as much a culture shock as much as a sense of relief in some ways. Weird? No, not really. While I enjoyed the laid back, green canopied and wonderful artistry of nature on display, topped by the love and concern that only parents know how to give, Kerala is not the best place for me to work in. My core competencies, especially given my particular skill sets, education and prior work experience, are more valued in other places.

Not to forget certain desires that were causing ravenous feelings! This week has all been about satisfying one of my key desires related to food. Be it McDonald's spicy McChicken (though I had sworn to myself, not to have one again), or the more moving hamburger at Burger King, or equally satiating Arabic food like the ever-so-tasty hummus, moutabel, khubz, tabouleh, shawarma or for that matter even Asian food like kebabs and roti or a vegetarian Gujarati thali and pav bhaji - culinary delights at its best. And there are still so many more tasty treats to be had.

Another key desire was to catch up with friends, who I had known were living in Dubai but just never had the time nor opportunity to catch up. To me, meeting up an old school mate after 20 years was moving, to say the least. I am so looking forward to meeting all those friends, whom I have not seen in ages! I actually, do not have enough words to provide justice to my feelings of gratitude for the way in which old friends and close relatives have been kind enough to welcome me with open arms as well as caring and sharing whatever they can, be it time, love and affection or useful advice on how to go about job hunting. They do not have to do any of this, but they do. Evidence, that humanity still thrives.

The UAE just celebrated 40 years of unification and positive change. What a journey. I am so happy that I have been here during this celebratory period. I am certainly not the only one to marvel at the extraordinary pace of change here. This is not my first ever visit to Dubai. Over the years I have witnessed first hand, how fast and furiously, development geared towards improving the quality of life for both citizens and residents, takes place. From the lovely metro, bus and taxi system run so very efficiently by the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) to the sheer humongous scale of reach that Emirates Airlines (EK) provides, there is no dearth of visual information and visceral feelings evoked.

Finally, the idea that is Dubai, in my opinion is directly and proportionally connected to the catch phrase - 'Do Buy'. For this is a place full of consummate marketers and sales people. And at every step, stage and leap, exists the audible reason behind the growth of this place. Of course, people who have been staying here for some time will tell you that, today's Dubai is not the same as pre-2008. Sure, it is not. It is evolving. It is genuflecting. It is reviving.

The issue with 'Do Buy' is that it gets hampered by the crutches of sentiments that ever so often can be linked to mob behaviour. Ever seen a shoal of fish? There are these random movement patterns which emerge without any particular meaning and who leads whom is a complete mystery. But it does occur. From a trading outpost to the modern nerve centre of the Middle East and North African market, Dubai certainly cannot be de-linked from the 'Do Buy' catch phrase. But I sincerely believe that Dubai cannot be written off either. Liquidity crunches, rising interest rates, global conflict spots - there are many reasons being bandied about with speculators making the most of it. However, I see the spirit of this city and its people. I see the professionalism and can-do attitude. I see the government's willingness to create genuine playing fields. Things happen here. All the time. And it looks like 2012 is going to be a good year.

Ahlan wa sahlan as the Arabic saying goes - the doors are open to become part of the family. I hope so. Wish me luck and success.


  1. You had a gala time there. I wish to go there during Dubai Shopping Festival...I hope, I will someday...

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us:)

  2. I'm sure, Saru the day you land in Dubai for DSF will be soon :-) meantime, I shall try to share my experiences and possibly give a virtual experience to you and other readers of this blog. DSF starts 5 January 2012.

  3. This is a good common sense topic. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me.


Your comments are welcome. I am all ears.

The Chances We Take. Or Not.

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