Dubai Learnings so far.

Week 8. Before we get into the more comprehensive analytics, some basics learned so far, or things I wish I’d known before I came. Mum, I’m OK.

  • Following a compliment with “Shame about your face” is not universally hilarious.
  • Do not expect continuous pavements.
  • Do not try to musically analyse the Call to Prayer.
  • There’s no good time to tell new flatmates there is a dead baby bird in the freezer, and “Viking Funeral” will not wash.
  • If your underpants snap, a windy commando border-crossing will land you in jail. Where possible, purchase childrens’ swimwear and keep a straight face.
  • Camels are out of Star Wars and basically dinosaurs with fur.
  • Hip Hop Karaoke is For Winning.
  • Getting ‘papped’ does not mean you’re important.
  • If you’re at a party, and someone has a monkey with a nappy, don’t get too friendly – there’s a reason it’s wearing it.
  • Opportunities are to be had in places where people are open to them.
  • No I do not want the transparent Belly-Dancer beaded-skirt thing.
  • It’s fun to draw smiley faces on the dusty bins in the neighbourhood, and it will not make you famous.
  • The Dubai traffic system was designed by either a jaded childrens’ party entertainer, a pasta-maker undergoing psychiatric treatment, a traffic-cone manufacturer or Loki, god of mischief.
  • There are some very decent graffiti artists willing to give you cans and show you the ropes. Here they are ON THIS LINK, and THIS LINK.
  • It is folly to expect Taxi drivers to know where they’re going, particularly if they say they do.
  • Do not let the person filming the entire gig beside you on their blackberry ruin your enjoyment of it. A subsequent rant about this person will not get published.
  • A trip to the Mall is more than that – it’s a place to see and be seen. Even if you hate shopping, dress up, watch the people.
  • The Dawn patrol – lovely folks sipping G&Ts in the garden at 7.30 am. Until the flies descend and bug the crap out of everybody.
  • Old Dubai = everything older than 12 years.
  • Staying in a hotel alone for four weeks totally justifies ‘The Shining’.
  • If someone asks if you’re “Ruski” it’s not because you look affluent.
  • You can teach a parrot a new trick but you will never be its friend.
  • Learn to love House music because that’s what you’re getting. Do not suggest putting Chas & Dave on.
  • Arabic food is infinitely more varied & flavourful than Kebabs and Falafels.
  • Cheapo Silly-Sunglasses are more fun than stupidly expensive ones.
  • However snide folks elsewhere in the world may be, you can’t fail to be impressed by what Dubai has achieved and created. Ethos: If you can, do.
  • Don’t assume someone giving you HBO episodes on USB means they have a corresponding crush to your impression of a 14 year old.
  • A Lunar exclipse is even more dramatic viewed from the top of a massive dune in the actual desert.
  • Oranamin C = Hangover cure.
  • Sheikh Zayed Road – the city’s aorta: 12 lanes of comedy chaos. Do not expect indication, signage or use of rearview mirrors.
  • If someone offers you a job, don’t assume it’s an actual job they’re offering (lather rinse repeat X5).
  • If you fall asleep in the Karaoke bar, it’s time to go home. If you are saluted on exiting said Karaoke bar, you did a good job.
  • 5 pints of unlimited-refill pepsi puts you right off 7 oz of perfectly decent steak.
  • Your hair is not falling out because of stress, it’s salinated water.
  • Lebanese popstars are a fusion of Kim Kardashian and Sly Stallone’s mum.
  • Handheld-jets in toilet cubicles lead to detailed conversations about how people clean their behinds.
  • A Sandstorm is thick sandy fog. Not an actual storm, so you don’t have to take everything in from the balcony.
  • Expect a consistent humidity-fro until you can get your hands on extensive/expensive hair products.
  • Sand. Damn sand everywhere. Funny, that.
  • If someone excessively flirts with you, don’t take it personally when they do the same to fifteen other individuals in as many minutes. It’s what they do, male and female.
  • The hard-working labourers will pause to think you are a slut and stare accordingly. That’s helped by the above point, and also because ladies at home cover up and don’t go out drinking or hopping in taxis with men they’ve just met.
  • “It’s rude to stare” does not apply in the UAE.
  • Indefinite celibacy makes total sense, but you will still be the same demographic as a slut.
  • Be nice to passport control people at border crossings – even when they laugh at you while waving your passport around and making your tolerant friend do the Hokey Cokey with her car.

This piece got a great response, warranting a second outing with Dubai Learnings Part 2.

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