The Desert’s Twinkling Lights
From the moment you enter the Emirates Terminal 3, you know life is about to get as slippery as the floor in this gigantic airport’s flashy terminal. All races and ethnicities are hustling and bustling around you. Your heart thumps at the possibility of having the opportunity to meet someone different each day and at the joy of hearing a new language being spoken each minute.
The words tomorrow is a new day must have been written for Dubai. Every day here is not only new, but it also brings endless possibilities. You wake up and are met with a fantastic skyline full of wonder, each door in each building filled with interesting and new people, moments and experiences.
A major portion of the day for a newbie is spent in malls. The twinkling store windows seem to call out, enticing you to buy something, anything, as long as you walk out proudly toting a branded bag. The plethora of designer brands eventually becomes irresistible, then infuriating when the bills come. And when the shopping overwhelms you, stop into a variety of stores for a cup of coffee from anywhere in the world: so far, I have seen African, Cuban, Asian and American coffee. If your culinary desires crave something more, there are a variety of cafés and restaurants catering to any taste. You are never left wanting more.
But this jungle is also intimidating. The endless possibilities can resemble a maze, one that makes it hard to navigate and figure out your bearings. Many times, you find yourself going in circles — courtesy of cab drivers rightfully assuming you to be an out-of-towner.
It is not uncommon for one to be left slightly cold in this flashy wonderland. The glitz and glamour cannot hide the fact that this city has very little soul — however, cultural enrichment is being worked on. (I am as hopeful as anyone else.) Art Dubai is one such venture. It is where the who’s-who in the art world and global artists mingle under one marquee. The sophisticated event could grow to be quite an international cultural success. Aside from this, one can quench their arty thirst via the Dubai International Film Festival or the book fairs that happen multiple times a year. Theater is severely lacking, but some small productions have been appearing throughout the city.
Dubai can be a polarizing city. Some love it passionately, settling miles from their homes into this multicultural metropolis. Others are here by profession and count the days till the shackles of employment (and newfound attachment to an ostentatious lifestyle) come off and they can run back home. Some, like me, are excited and nervous but keen to figure out this city. Because no matter what one may say, there is really no place as diverse, flamboyant and overwhelming as Dubai. So I’ll put on my designer shoes and prepare for the ride.