As Mark Radcliffe famously said, Manchester “the city that thinks a table is for dancing on”. Quite right too. “They return the love round here, don’t they?” said Guy Garvey, front man of Elbow. Manchester is a city that gets in to your blood and runs through your veins with a warmth reserved for anyone who has ever spent any significant time there. So why am I writing this blog from Dubai? I have asked myself this question on a thrice daily basis since we moved here a few months ago.
We were more than just happy with our life in Manchester. The best of friends & great times. But when my husband received a job offer in Dubai, it was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down. “Give it a try”, “What have you got to lose?”, “It will be an adventure” were along the lines of encouraging comments we received and we were in full agreement. I wasn’t sure if Dubai was ready for us….it seems I may have had that the wrong way round.
Dubai…a city that looks shiny, new and exciting. I knew it was a transient city and due to this, thought making friends would be easy due to similar people being in the same boat – possibly only here for a short while. Strangely the culture shock I experienced in the first couple of months of being here was hugely unexpected. This was due to the fact that it had nothing to do with the local Emirati culture. In fact you don’t really come in to contact with many locals….my issues were with the Expats! Now I know I shouldn’t generalise, but…the Western Expats seem to fall in to a number of categories.
Firstly you have the young couples or singles, no kids, loads of disposable income who truly live “the life”. They eat in the best restaurants, drink in the chicest bars and hangout in the coolest clubs – and why not? They are loving it and making the most of their time here. Now I get that…obviously anyone that knows me, knows that unfortunately, I don’t fit in to that category, even if I do hang on to their coat tails on the occasional night out. It’s glitz it’s glam but it’s for young people! It seems more about where & what you drink, than who you are drinking with.
Secondly, there are the families who live on the edges on Dubai in villas in the gated communities. Great place to make friends if you have kids of a similar age. Also – not a category I have links with.
Then most interestingly, you have what we have affectionately come to term the Benidorm Brigade. People who may possibly have been in the UAE a little too long, mainly displayed by the mahogany look they are sporting. They are to be found in the English or Irish pubs, great for watching sports on the big screens during the week, but come the weekend evenings, these places suddenly change, and unless you fancy wandering back in to the 1980′s, run for your life while you still have a shred of your street cred in tact. It’s when you realise a ‘covers’ band is tuning up ready to blast out some 80′s tunes that should have stayed in that decade. The room suddenly livens up and ladies of a certain age move on to the dance floor wearing their best cocktail dresses, having had one too many Cinzanos, and all you can hear between the music is the noise of the flapping of bingo wings. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not adverse to a bit of bingo wing flapping (or a Cinzano), but I can comfortably say, I am rather particular about what music I flap my wings too.
Dubai reminds me of the town in the film Footloose – where music & dancing had been banned. Luckily for everyone, Kevin Bacon moved in to the area & taught them to bust some moves at the church disco. Let’s just say, Dubai doesn’t really cater for the more eclectic music tastes.
And finally, back to Manchester – “We do thing’s differently here” according to the late Anthony Wilson – thank goodness for that.
I am looking forward to visiting home & doing things differently again soon.