I have now been in Dubai for four days, since June 2nd. I am here visiting my father, little brother, and step mother and their hospitality and generosity has made the beginning of my stay here absolutely enjoyable.
On my first day here, I arrived at 10:30pm local time due to a flight delay from Houston. Texas, my home state, was and continues to be inudated for the second straight year by record flooding. Nevertheless, I could not fail to be awed by the massive size and scope of the Dubai airport. The airport was easily one of the largest structures I have ever been in, with massive vaulted roofs, pillars, and an enormous indoor waterfall as the centerpiece.
My second day, my father, little brother, and I went to the Emirates Golf Club, a world renouned course in the heart of Dubai. After playing a rough 18 holes with my father and his mates, we had dinner at the Club. I am a massive foodie, and the Italian-inspired seafood dish I ordered was divine.
On my third day in Dubai, I woke early with the family and accompanied my father to his office. His office lies in the center of the free zone, requiring us to cross what amounts to an international border to enter. Within this zone is the largest industrial sprawl I have ever seen; factories, shipping yards, offices, contruction everywhere. After working on an article that I will be submitting to the EPIK Young Leaders Conference paper competition in Soeul, My father and I, accompanied by three of his office workers, went to lunch at a small local Indian food restaurant that caters to the local workers. For 100 durams (roughly $30 USD) The five of us ate a massive meal, the quality of which was the finest I had ever tried. After heading home, we went to dinner in the Pier 7 district overlooking the Dubai Marina. Although our meal left a bit to be desired, the drinks and dessert did not disappoint.
My fourth day in Dubai was one of relaxation and family time. After spending the morning at the house reading a good suspence novel in the Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, my father and I went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house to play tennis. My little brother and our cousin joined us shortly after, and we played a spirited and entertaining game that resulted in a 3-3 tie. We had to retire to the pool to cool down from the 110+ degree weather. Shortly after, my uncle arrived, and we had a great time exchanging our favorite rap and hip hop artists. Afterward, my dad challenged me to a game of tennis, which I am happy to say I won 6-2. Another great day in the books, we retired to the house for a home cooked meal of prawn curry.
In my short stay in Dubai, a number of general observations have popped into my mind. First is the similarity between migrant labor in Dubai and my home of Austin, TX. Migrant laborers are heavily relied on in Dubai for contruction and landscape work. These laborers come from many different Middle Eastern countries, as well as India, Bangladesh, and elswhere. Similarly, hispanic migrant laborers are heavily relied upon in Austin to provide construction and landscaping work.
Another general observation of mine is the internationalization of Dubai. The absolute diversity of the population is astounding; even in a small office my father’s employees are from five different nationalities. Therefore, the demographics of Dubai are particularly interesting, with a massive ex-pat population and a relative small local population. This leads to an interesting exchange of culture, one certainly dominated by the local Muslim culture but heavily influenced by outsiders.