Dubai expats – 5 signs you’ve ‘adjusted’
When you first decide to move to another country, you have these rosy images in your head of one day being a happily adjusted local. Then you actually move and you find yourself wondering “what on earth was I thinking” and “why did I make such a stupid decision?”
But, before you know it, things start to settle down and one day, something happens, or a series of things happen that make you realise you can now happily consider yourself officially ‘adjusted’.
This is a happy moment in every expat’s life – the moment you can officially start to pity new expats, because you are no longer able to be considered one of them.
Here’s my top 5 signs to look out for when living as a well adjusted Dubai resident…
1. You’re ‘that’ crazy driver…
We were on our way to work this morning when I had that amazing realisation that Lovely Hubby can officially be considered to have adjusted to driving in Dubai.
He ticked all of the items on the list of what makes you an officially ordained ‘Dubai driver’:
- he shouted “loser” at someone drifting between lanes and promptly drove right around them
- he cut off some “tosser” who had left it too late to merge coming down the on-ramp
- he beeped another “tosser” who stopped in the middle of the car park for no reason as well as the guy who pulled over in the traffic to get to his building site
- he was beeping someone moving off the lights just moments before the light had even turned green
- he pulled in front of a huge line of traffic on the off-ramp to zoom into where we needed to go without indicating – something that just kills all those orderly queue makers who start out trying to follow road rules here and haven’t learnt that it doesn’t get you anywhere.
- And all this without so much as blinking nor breaking the flow of our conversation.”Wow” I remember saying… “Dubai was made for you baby!”.
And all this without so much as blinking nor breaking the flow of our conversation.
“Wow” I remember saying… “You really have settled into Dubai driving haven’t you??”
I fear there will be a significant period of adjustment required if we ever move back to Australia where these actions all appear on the’extremely aggressive driver’ list instead!
2. You realise logic will get you nowhere…
We were driving in downtown last weekend, and we needed to get onto a road which eventually joins up to the big Al Khail road.
We were sitting at the traffic lights dutifully turning in the complete opposite direction to where we needed to go, knowing that this is a sure way to get onto the road we needed when Lovely Hubby saw a sign up ahead that was just a little bit too small to read. We speculated that perhaps this was a better way to get to the street we needed.
Then we realised that this is exactly what those Dubai road signs want you to think and it’s all a ploy to make you drive around a never-ending maze of interconnecting and dead-end streets that eventually defeat you and make you turn around and go back to the road that you know works. Who else would know this but a well-adjusted local? We have learned not let anything as trivial as logic get in the way of getting where you need to go in the shortest amount of time possible!
3. You know whatever documents you have will never be enough
We are in the process of trying to get a visa for our maid (even that sentence is something I could never have imagined myself saying before moving here) – a process shrouded in secrecy, forms and confusing directions from a range of different agencies.
We have learned however that it’s usually a case of providing every single original, certified document you can think of as well as having multiple black and white and colour copies of each along with a sheet or two of A4 paper with a signature and most importantly, your ATM card.
We showed up at a desk the other day with this truckload of documentation however, the major difference to when we used to show up to do these sort of things when we first arrived, was that we now know that it doesn’t matter that we have all this stuff – there will be something we don’t have. It will never have been mentioned and you will never be able to find reference to it, but we know that whatever we are trying to do will not progress without it.
Sure enough, after and hour of waiting and an hour of processing, we were trudging back to our office to get a document we had not already provided. But we did it with a sense of calm and resignation that we would have never had at the beginning. After all, what can you do? Why go crazy? Just get the document and keep plodding like a well-adjusted expat!
4. You know that (ironically) fuel is not always close by
When you are out on the highways in Dubai, there’s not always a regular pit stop for petrol. We learned this the hard way when we first arrived and were running on the smell of an oily rag trying to a) locate a petrol station and b) try to get the right exit to actually get into the petrol station.
So, on the weekend when we were heading out on a bit of a road trip and the little red light came on when we got in the car, we knew we had to immediately locate a station and head straight for it. We also knew that the GPS would provide no value in this search given that it will only find a petrol station, not tell you which side of the road its on nor whether there’s an easily accessible exit from the massive, 6 lane highway you are on filled with people averaging 140km/h.
We know all of this now and we feel just that little bit more confidence heading out on a road trip, even if we do still know that rarely does a road trip complete without some significant point of getting lost and/or driving 20-30kms out of the way due to a wrong turn. At least we’re doing it all on a full tank of fuel now!
5. You decline invitations based purely on their location
When we first arrived here, we were keen to explore. We would accept any invitation and go out of our way to join people in venues we weren’t familiar with in an effort to try to get to know the place and see new things.
Having been here a while now, we have well and truly adjusted and have no qualms about simply refusing invitations that take us to places we know are difficult to get in and out of or that have limited parking.
It sounds shallow, but it’s pure and simply a self-preservation exercise. Seldom do you come across a place that makes the stress worth it given that each pocket of Dubai has its own amazing restaurants, bars and hotels. There’s just no winning argument for the organiser in these situations and as a result, it’s well expected that there will always be someone who doesn’t show up for your event/party/dinner/brunch. It’s just the way it is for those who have adjusted.
So there you have it.
A short list but not an insignificant one. And for those of you that have been through the tough adjustment, it really gives you an immense amount of satisfaction to know a few things about living here. Probably the most important is to embrace the Inshallah philosophy that what will be will be. Anything else is just adding unneccessary stress to what is otherwise generally a pretty good life!
Like and share if you agree and please leave a comment if you think there are other signs of adjustment that I have missed.
Have a great week everyone!