Dubai was what I imagined the future to look like. Its advanced technologies and architecture make it one of the coolest places to travel to for a tourist with money in their pocket. Overall, I loved my time in Dubai, but I also had encounters that altered my experience.
Empty beaches in the middle of the day
Most people who live in Dubai are avoiding the heat like the plague. Honestly, if I lived here all year round, I’d probably hide in the air-conditioned buildings too. But seeing as I have been experiencing the freezing cold of winter in Canada I didn’t mind getting scorched. I was ready to relax on the beach and go for a swim in the ocean.
The UAE is the perfect place to relax as you can enjoy empty beaches in Khor Fakkan during the middle of the day. If you're lucky, you might even find spots with Wi-Fi on the beach! By the evening, it’s lovely to see the community come out with their families as the weather cools and work is done for the day.
I was surprised to see how many diverse cuisines Dubai had, especially at Time Out Market. The food was delicious but, needless to say, the star of the show was the middle eastern cuisine.
Middle eastern food is one of my favourite cuisines and coming to the heart of where this cuisine originates, was the cherry on top of my trip. I had some of the best shawarma, tabbouleh, and fattoush I've ever had at Al Meshwar and I’d go back to Dubai just to have it again!
I loved talking to the locals of Dubai and learning their stories. They shared with me what it was like living in Dubai and how some of them became ex-pats. Above all, everyone was so kind and helpful. Even when my mom and I were struggling to get a taxi home, we asked the concierge at a hotel nearby and they immediately let us use their phone and helped call us a cab. The people of Dubai are some of the most welcoming and hospitable people I have met in the world and always know how to have a good time!
As a young woman traveling with other women or sometimes even solo, safety is always a top concern anywhere I travel. Everywhere I went in Dubai, I felt very safe as if someone was always watching my back for me. My cousin told me that the UAE has serious laws in place on sexual assault and sexual harassment, Men, in particular, will never take a chance to break these laws. Knowing how seriously the UAE takes sexual assault and sexual harassment cases, made me feel a bit more comfortable exploring the city alone or with a group of women.
It’s no secret that Dubai has been able to make a hefty profit off of tourism considering it is literally a desert. They continue to innovate to hold superlatives like the world's tallest building, the largest mall, or the largest fountain as that's what keeps tourists coming back. But at what cost?
Dubai is recognized to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the world causing serious sustainability concerns. The reclaimed land where the Palm sits today, depletion of resources in construction, deconstruction, and maintenance of even larger and newer buildings; and the unsustainable transit system that heavily supports car transportation are just a few examples of what is causing the city's unsustainability.
There were a few sustainability initiatives UAE showcased at Expo2020 but if you ask me, I think Dubai still has a long way to go.
Dubai was one of the most nerve-wracking cities I have ever vlogged in. I was not allowed to vlog with my camera for many reasons but at times for reasons that didn't make sense. At any place I visited that was guarded by security, I was shut down for using my camera. They had ridiculous rules like only being able to record with my phone or not allowing me to sit but allowing me to squat while recording videos.
There were instances like in Atlantis where a security guard targeted me asking if I was a guest at the Atlantis and if I wasn’t a guest I wasn’t allowed to take photos. However, everyone around me was allowed to whip their phones out to snap photos. I don’t mind putting my camera away if I’m not allowed to take photos but the rules felt biased and targeted. Since I was a tourist that didn’t pay a ton of money to be a guest at the Atlantis I was treated poorly. It was not till after I complained to the head of security that he told me I have to get a permit for larger cameras at the front of the building which I was happy to do if the first security guard mentioned this to me.
In Global Village, my bag was the only one that was searched in a crowd of hundreds of people. Emiratis who entered the area with bags as well seemed to be the only ones who got a free pass from security.
Among the locals such as in the gold and spice souk, I felt so welcomed. They were all so happy to share their stories with me and allowed me to capture their lovely shops so I could share them with the world.
Clothing restrictions for women
For the most part, you can dress the way you want to in Dubai. Some people will give you looks and stares depending on where you're traveling in Dubai but that's about it. I didn't have an issue with the way I dressed and my cousin advised me I can wear whatever I want on my trip. The only pinch I felt was at the mosque in Abu Dhabi where women were supposed to be covered head to toe, but men were allowed to wear whatever they wanted. I enjoyed the experience of wearing an abaya for the first time but couldn't help but feel the divide between men and women here.
If the UAE says they've progressed their laws over the years for women, then why do we still have dress code rules applied to women only and not men?
Nonetheless, the pros of my trip outweighed the cons and I think everyone should visit Dubai at least once in their life. As for the city itself, I think a lot of work needs to be done from an ESG standpoint.
Check out the Dubai vlogs here!
Have you been to Dubai? Share your experience with me below in the comments!