Two weeks ago I wheeled two suitcases out of my empty flat, posted my keys back through the letter box and jumped into a Heathrow-bound cab. After a grand total of 13 years in London, I have moved to Dubai with a limited wardrobe, and even more limited knowledge of the city.
The decision to flee London has been on the cards for a while, and my husband and I (still weird saying that, we are very newlyweds) have both had our eye on jobs in the region with the understanding that if one of us got an offer, we’d up and move. We wanted a change, and Dubai offered the ideal opportunity to experience something new while still progressing our careers.
He arrived a month ahead of me, and I had a wonderful solo flight in which a brilliant flight attendant brought me a plate of fine cheeses from First Class. Top plane moment ever! On landing, I had to take a train to the baggage area as DXB is so vast. The carriages were icy cool of course, as was the terminal, but as I alighted there was an inch gap between the two through which a surge of hot air hit me in the face, much like the blast of a heater as you enter a department store in winter. Of course, this was no heater but just air from outside. Extremely toasty for the early hour of 8am.
Now, I realised that Dubai would be hot, and I also knew that I was arriving at the worst time of year for it, but nothing could prepare me for the distress of trying to locate an Uber in the airport car park in 45 degrees. There are so many white Lexuses! Two weeks later and I am still waiting for the much talked-about ‘acclimatising’ that my resident friends speak of. It’s true that I am much sweatier than the average person, but I honestly don’t ever think I’ll be able to walk for more than three minutes outside here during the summer months. I’ve accepted a fate of using cabs for embarrassingly short distances and sadly lamenting my flaneur days marching around London where I’d easily clock up 10k steps just going about my daily business. How many steps do I average per day here? 700.
So the gym in my apartment block (still a novelty to have one in the building) will be visited daily for me to shift some dumbbells and try to avoid becoming the size of a house from all the delicious food, of which there is plenty. The Deliveroo app has been promoted to my home screen and has never seen so much action; weighty salads, noodles and oh-so-much hummus has be consumed courtesy of its generous pages.
It’s been a good couple of weeks and I’ve already seen that there’s a lot more to the city than meets the eye, or rather, the first impression. There’s cute new cafes popping up on unassuming corners, and I’ve got theatre as well as the expected water parks and restaurants on my vast to-do list. Next on the agenda is to try and make a very beige (both literally and figuratively) apartment moderately stylish and cosy, explore my new area and try out a famous ‘ladies' night’ – I’ll report back…
Photos: iStock and Instagram