The “New” Middle East: Convincing Your Family You’re Not In A War Zone

“Be careful. You know it’s not safe for women out there.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this after I announced my move to the United Arab Emirates. From friends, family, colleagues, even highly educated people whom I would assume were pretty caught up with current events. I guess not. The UAE is by no means perfect, no society is. But, it’s not the Middle East that the media has so eloquently led us to believe.  So here’s a few things to know about my life in Dubai:

1.    It’s LITERALLY the safest city I’ve ever lived in.

So, Dubai is by far the safest place I’ve ever lived. I can go out running at night (I mean, if that was my thing), I can leave my doors unlocked, leave my purse unattended in a restaurant, and even ask a stranger for help. Nor, do I have to worry about the constant threat of police brutality against myself or my family. Or the gross injustices that I continue to see (and don’t see) in mainstream media. Would I do half these things back home? Absolutely not. But let’s put things in perspective, here’s the crime statistics of the last few cities that I’ve lived in versus Dubai.

City Crime Index Safety Index
Dubai, UAE 21.58 78.42
New York City, NY 47.15 52.85
Atlanta, GA 59.86 40.14
Oakland, CA 75.71 24.29

Crime Index is an estimation of overall level of crime in a given city or a country. Crime Levels up to 50 are reasonable, and crime index levels more than 100 are too high. Safety index is, on the other way, quite opposite of crime index. If the city has a high safety index, it is considered very safe.  Click Here to see the complete global listing.

2.   Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have to wear that “black head covering thingy.”

First of all, it’s called a nijab (full face covering) or hijab (head covering). And secondly, no it’s not mandatory to wear. There are many Muslim women that wear these, and there are some “new age” who don’t. It’s all a matter of culture, family customs and values. It shouldn’t be seen by non-Muslims as a sign of oppression. Trust me, these women don’t see it that way. There is a difference of opinion amongst scholars in Islam as to whether or not covering the face is obligatory. The niqab has continued to arouse debate between Muslim scholars and jurists both past and present concerning whether it is fard (obligatory), mustahabb (recommended/preferable), or simply cultural. Most women just perceive it as being modest. I’ve even worn one myself, I think it’s pretty cool.

 3.  But Mom, it’s OK they have a Shake Shack!

How could I live in a war zone, when there’s a place that sells delicious, organically raised beef burgers on the beach? I mean, c’mon! In all jest, Dubai really does have all the luxuries and elements of living in the U.S. All the mainstream shopping outlets and stores, fast food chains, cinemas, nightclubs and entertainment. Dubai is actually home to the World’s Largest Cheescake Factory. That’s a whole lotta Red Velvet Cheesecake being sold in the Middle East. But seriously, can we get a Chipotle already? I beg you!

Shake Shack restaurant et The Beach in Jumeirah Beach Resort (JBR )Dubai UAE

4.   All in all, life if pretty damn good. 

In a recent survey, Dubai was selected as the best city in the world for expatriates and professionals to live and work in, beating New York, London and other most prominent cities.The survey asked respondents of 35 different nationalities to rate 15 key cities in the world in terms of economic dynamism (quality of labor, access to funding); quality of life (sports and cultural facilities, air quality); cost of living (real estate, dining, entertainment) and overall attractiveness (young talent, access to technology). Dubai emerged as the overall winner and ranked first in economic dynamism, third in overall attractiveness and fourth in terms of quality of life and cost of living. And plus, it’s a tax free nation. Who doesn’t love keeping a little bit from Uncle Sam?

So if you’re interested in moving abroad, just be sure to do your research and contact people who are actually living in the city you want to relocate to. There’s nothing worst than taking advice from someone who has no idea what’s going on (or for that fact, even has a passport. Bloop!).

As always… Pack Light and Travel Far.

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1 comment

  1. Great reading, people who don’t have any idea on living abroad always have some weird comments but well if you never take the plunge you will never know what you missing

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