Greetings from Dubai! After a 14 hour direct flight, I woke up in the desert! The second I got off the plane, I immediately felt the cultural shift. From the airport signs in Arabic, to the diversity in the airport, I knew I was in the Middle East. Given the reputation of Dubai’s incredible structure, I was expecting the inside of the airport to be lined with gold, but it was actually very simple. I stood in the immigration line for over two hours, waiting for the local Emirate employees to open additional lines. After that flight, the last thing I wanted to do was stand in line for 2 hours. I spent the first hour trying to connect to the airport WiFi in order to communicate with my cousin who was picking me up. Once we connected, I met him at baggage claim for the first time in my life! He’s great, and it was so refreshing to have someone help me.
I arrived to Dubai at night. During the drive to the apartment I am staying at, I noticed that everything was massive; every building is extremely tall. Not to mention, the tallest building in the world exists here in the city. Transportation was similar to that of Atlanta. People drive on the left side, honk a lot, and sit in a lot of traffic. I am staying off of the main highway in Dubai called Sheikh Zayed road. It runs all the way through Dubai. I am walking distance from the city metro, and a number of restaurants, including Subway and Dunkin Donuts! My first day here, my cousin took me to the Dubai Mall; what a place. We only saw a third of it, and it was literally the biggest mall I’ve ever seen in my life. Equipped with an aquarium, movie theater, hospital, grocery store, and more restaurants than you can image. Dubai has every kind of food you can think of. I ate at a Lebanese restaurant my first day, but I was next to a PF Chang’s and a Chili’s! Easing into the local culture has not been difficult, as there are so many different cultures here. The local Muslim Emirates, those born into a local family here, wear the traditional cultural attire; the men wear long white gowns, while the women dress in all black. Meanwhile, there are an abundance of people in assorted attire. It’s really refreshing to see how all the different religions and cultures blend together so easily here.
The office I am interning at is two metro stops from where I am staying. It took me a day or two to understand the metro system, but everything in Dubai is very organized, and VERY clean. Things are set up in a functional, organized manner. Even if you’re new here, it’s not hard to understand the city layout. So far, I have met three cousins for the first time! They have all been so great and hospitable. I went on a desert safari, the beach, and on a boat, all within my first week here. From what I have encountered so far, people work very hard here, but they also enjoy social settings nightly and good dinners. So far, I’m in love with Dubai! More to come soon!