Tag Archives: Dubai

The one comparing expat Dubai vs. Perth

I hesitated using the “vs.” in the title of this post because I don’t want to make it sound like these two fine cities are competing (in this case, for the affection of the expat Blantons)…because in my mind, they are not. There is no “winner” or “loser” in this little post/exercise, but rather just something I’ve been ruminating over for a few months now. I don’t know how many people make this jump from one of these cities to another, but as a summation of the two, I thought it would be an interesting view. So without further ado….

  • Dubai
    • Significant and established expat community: Only 10% of the population in the UAE is Emirati, leaving 90% to the expats (and Americans are few and far between).
    • Cultural diversity: Dubai is the biggest melting pot of cultures that I have ever had to privilege to experience. The vast number of different languages, religions, foods, home cities, and traditions in this city is mind boggling and humbling. I loved that aspect. The downside to this, however, would be that there are some significant communication barriers that ensue. If you’ve ever had to direct a cabbie around or ordered takeout in Dubai, you know what I am talking about.
    • Muslim country: Islam is the official religion of the UAE and the religion permeates into the civic laws and practices. While I didn’t have to cover my hair, there are certain rules citizens must abide by and of which to be cognizant.
    • Haves” and “have nots“: I have never before seen more wealth displayed by material objects than I did in Dubai (cars, villas and apartments, jewelry, clothes, shoes, food, etc). I have also never before seen such a marked discrepancy between the rich and the poor. Dubai was (and still is) being built upon the backs of tens of thousands of laborers, who work all hours in the heat for very little pay.
    • The lack of seasonality: The best way to describe the “seasons” of Dubai are hot, hotter, and “don’t go outside or you’ll melt”.
    • Ease of travel: I forgot the exact stat, but there is a ridiculous percentage of the world’s population that lives within an 8 hour flight of Dubai – that, coupled with the fact that DXB is the Emirates airline hub, means that there is continual easy, quick, and lovely travel all within a quick (single) flight.
    • Hotel and restaurant scene: I love Charlotte, NC, Houston, TX, Louisville, KY and yes, even Durham, NC, but I wouldn’t say that any of these cities are hugely “trendy”; if a hot new hotel or restaurant opens in the states, it typically is in LA or NYC. Globally, you could probably include London and Dubai to that list. And even though I am the furthest thing from trendy, it was fun to go to a new restaurant or hot spot in Dubai that could only boast other locations in London, LA, NYC, etc.

  • Perth
    • Western similarities: I did love the cultural diversity in Dubai, but it was nice to move to a city where English was most everyone’s first language, we could easily find a church to attend (note: there are churches in Dubai!!! We were never religiously persecuted, but Protestant churches in Dubai were few and far between, that’s all), we could hold hands in public, and I could purchase wine with ease.
    • Aussie slang: This is a positive and a negative. On the plus side, I’ve loved learning that while Australians do speak English, they have their own twist with different words and phrases that are completely uniquely Australian – it’s fun! On the (kinda) downside, initially I did have trouble understanding certain faster clipped accents or aforementioned terms. Not really a “downside” I suppose – it’s all part of the adventure 🙂
    • Wine and coffee: The wine and coffee in Perth (and basically Australia at large, from what I have experienced) are heads and shoulders above anything I’ve ever had before – perfection.
    • Isolated: I’ve written to this point before, but it can’t be overstated enough (especially if you’re considering a move to Perth), the city is isolated. There are some great spots within driving distance and Bali is only a 4 hour flight (not to mention all the smaller perhaps less well known WA locales that are within a faster flight such as the Kimberley’s, Exmouth, Albany), but even getting to the east coast of Australia is a long(ish) flight – not just a hop, skip and a jump to be sure. You’ve just got to be ready for long flights (but the perk of that is racking up those frequent flyer miles!)
    • Weather changes: Our first few weeks here gave me a bit of a pause when I thought about my prayers for rain in Dubai because it felt that all we had in terms of weather was rain, rain, and more rain. A friend (and fellow expat) asked the question of “Do we live in Perth or Seattle?” Completely valid query. That being said, the temperatures were mild (for winter!) and we did get some sunny days. And then once winter started to wrap up and spring began, you’d be crazy to complain. The season changes are more subtle than I experienced in the states, but it exists, and for the most part, the weather here that Ive seen is excellent.
    • Gorgeous natural green spaces, walking paths, and waterfronts: Dubai had a handful of green spaces and waterfronts, but most were completely manmade. Perth has some of the loveliest parks, hiking trails, vineyards, lakes, riverside running paths, and beaches (no artificial islands in sight).
Image via Emirates

Image via Emirates

  • Dubai and Perth
    • Expensive: Dubai and Perth are pricey. Period. End of subject. Groceries, rent, cars, eating out. That being said, Dubai’s taxis and petrol are super cheap!
    • Beaches: Ask me if I would choose between the beach and the mountains and Ill choose the beach every single time. Dubai and Perth have fabulous, free beaches in abundance. I will really miss living within either walking distance or a ten minute drive when we eventually head back to the states.
    • Safety: While I didn’t ever feel that Charlotte was “dangerous”, Perth and Dubai are exceedingly safe cities. Of course one always has to be aware of their surroundings and the neighborhood (and not be unnecessarily reckless), but the crime rates in Dubai and Perth is minute and that helped me rest easy.
    • Fabulous local/drivable opportunities: We have been blessed to do a lot of local travel near to Perth (Margaret River, Swan Valley, Lancelin Beach) and Dubai (Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, camel riding in the desert) – these quick weekend or day road trips have been some of our favorites.
    • Dream fulfilling: This is a bit of a personal one (and cheesy), but as our time abroad draws to a close, I can’t help but reflect on these last 18 months as some of the most fulfilling, fun, and humbling of my life. There have been ups and downs (nothing is perfect, y’all!), but Barr and I have wanderlust and have a tendency for itchy feet and choosing the “harder” path sometimes, and our times in Perth and Dubai have filled our desire to live abroad and be citizens of the world to a “t”.
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11 Things You Should Know About the Middle East {Dubai}

Someone passed this link along to Barr, and it gave us both some extreme Dubai flashbacks. I’m still putting together my Dubai vs. Perth Venn Diagram (yes, a Venn Diagram) and these little memes definitely hit close to home…particularly the “Inshallah” (God Willing) one below:

Image via ScoopEmpire

Honestly, anytime you’d order takeaway and ask for a time estimate for delivery, you’d hear “30 minutes, Inshallah“. A cab ride: “It should be about 10 minute drive, Inshallah“. Waiting in a government line: “You’ll be seen today, Inshallah.” A repair man coming to fix something at your flat: “We’ll be there this afternoon, Inshallah.”

You get the idea.

I jest, but ask pretty much anyone, and I think they’ll tell you I actually use Inshallah in my vernacular on a regular basis, so go figure…

These humorous little tidbits are not to say that I don’t miss Dubai – there are plenty of things that I miss big time (our friends, the hot weather, the shopping, the Arabic culture, etc).

Furthermore (and don’t worry, I won’t get too political on this point), I am doubly proud of the role the UAE is playing on a global level with regards to fighting terrorism and specifically ISIS.

So Dubai peeps: thoughts on the link above…and has anyone ever used one of those shattafas in the bathrooms? Alarming! 😉 Happy Monday all and until next time..

The one where we said goodbye to Dubai

Tomorrow I go off to do my favorite thing: pack and organize! And in all fairness, only one of those is really my favorite thing (the latter), but I seem to do the former a lot. But that’s okay! Just means we get to go to plenty of new and different places 🙂

Burj Khalifa on National Day 2013

Burj Khalifa on National Day 2013

The majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

I will be making the eleven hour flight from PER to DXB (direct, yall!) to pack up and say good bye to the UAE. As I mentioned before, this is a bittersweet move as we have loved our time in Dubai and met some incredible friends and seen some amazing places. When we went to Dubai for a portion of our honeymoon almost three years ago, I dont think either of us ever dreamed that we would be back…to live. Inshallah this won’t be our last visit to Dubai.

Dubai - I'll miss you!

Dubai – we’ll miss you!

Leaving Dubai is already looking to be a challenge as many of our utilities and documents are in my husband’s name, leaving me in a bit of a pickle until he gets there…so yall know what that means? That’s right: packing and organizing! I thought maybe beach time, but given that the heat index is tipping in at around 110F, I may pass…there’s always shopping! 😉 Shhh, just dont tell Barr!

Cant believe it's almost been one year since we moved to the UAE

Cant believe it’s almost been one year since we moved to the UAE

Given all of this, there may be some sporadic posts over the next week as we ship items back to the states, try to sell furniture, close bank accounts, cancel visas, etc, but I’ll be back, and with one less apartment to concern myself with in this big ol’ world! TGIF and until next time…

National Day fireworks (duh) at the Burj al Arab

National Day fireworks (duh) at the Burj al Arab

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim readers and any who are marking the end of Ramadan!

Right on the heels of this holiday, Barr and I will be [briefly] returning to Dubai in the coming days to pack up our apartment and bid farewell to the Middle East…very bittersweet for us. But I was in a Dubai state of mind and thought I’d revive some posts that focused on the culture and religion in the UAE, and what better reason to do so than a holiday!?

You may (okay you definitely do not) remember a post I did last fall on Eid al-Adha, and Eid al-Fitr is a different Muslim holiday, sometimes called “little Eid”. Eid al-Adha recognizes the trust and sacrifice of Abraham, while Eid al-Fitr (translation: festival of the breaking of the fast) celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is marked by fasting and reflection; the fasting is an important element in the Muslim faith as it teaches a Muslim focus primarily on God, thanking Him for blessings and taking one’s mind of off “worldly desires.”

The “Eid Moon” sighted on July 27, 2014 in KSA – Eid al-Fitr begins when on the day of the first sighting of the crescent moon shortly after sunset (Via NewsTribe)

To mark the holiday, folks begin with Eid communal prayers before moving on to a festival or someone’s home to indulge in some delicious foods and merriment. Gifts and money are also given out to friends and family (strangers even!) as generosity and hospitality are important elements of the religious holiday as well. There are several days given as a public holiday (at least there is in Dubai).

Muslims praying on Eid al-Fitr in Sydney, Australia (Via ABC)

So Eid Mubarak (blessed Eid) to Muslims and blessings to all my readers 🙂 Until next time…

The [Expat] Adventure Continues

Many of our friends and all of our family (and Barr and I ourselves) have been waiting to get the word on the length of our expat status. The original plan was to return to the states in September..from Dubai. Obviously things change!

"A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places"

“A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places”

As it stands, we will be here in Perth a little bit longer than September: we will be expats here now through December, returning to Charlotte by the end of the year…not what we thought would be the case, but knew that it could be a possibility.

Two of my loves back in the states: Dash and my mom :)

Two of my loves back in the states: Dash and my mom 🙂

While we miss our friends, family, America, and our course Dash (!) more than a blog post could ever possibly convey, we feel blessed to be given the opportunity to live abroad and travel to new places (we have a few still on our list before we return to the states). And are, of course, pumped to stay in Australia through their spring/start of summer seasons!

If this is Perth's winter, we're definitely looking forward to a spectacular spring!

If this is Perth’s winter, we’re definitely looking forward to a spectacular spring!

Friends and family: come visit! Our door is always open. Cheers to new adventures in Perth and beyond and to our return to North Carolina in December! Until next time…

The one where I learned the term “Perthed”

My friend (currently, yes, this is pretty singular) here in Perth introduced me to a new term the other week: Perthed. Before I explain, let me give you a bit of background.

Via Oh She Glows

Being more of a morning person than a night owl, one of the things that I really struggled with in Dubai was the fact that hardly anything opened before 10-11AM. I mean the earliest coffee shop opened at 8AM – a far cry from the 5AM opening time of the Starbucks back in Charlotte! On the flip side of this, however, was the fact that shops/restaurants stayed open LATE – it wasn’t unusual to have the malls open to midnight (and during religious holidays, sometimes open all night long!)

Fast forward to Perth: people here are definitely morning people – my kind of people! But for every positive, there’s a negative, and in this case, it is that everything – and I mean everything – here in Perth closes early. Malls: closing time 5PM. A restaurant’s kitchen usually is done by 9PM, and if you’re wandering in at 845PM, you’re getting some dirty looks for sure. The little street around the corner from us is bustling in the mornings, but is dead by 830PM. Now of course there are exceptions to this, but for the most part, one will find that this is the norm, especially during the work week.

Not a morning person? You may be in trouble here in Perth…

Back to the term Perthed – you’ve been “Perthed” if you go to the grocery store, a mall, a restaurant, you name it, and it’s closed already. And we’re not talking going at 11PM – we’re talking the grocery store is closing its doors to you promptly at 6PM! Oh you want some delivery or take away at 930PM? Too bad – Perthed big time (this is a true story from my husband).

PERTHED

No complaints here as I now know to make earlier reservations, pop to the grocery in the afternoon, and understand the fact that the people of Perth have mastered the art of day drinking 🙂

Well, I’m off to Sydney tomorrow morning for a long weekend with Barr and then heading to Adelaide in South Australia with a girlfriend  – there’s a great bit of wine country in that part of the country; we’re heading to the Barossa (pronounced Bar-rah-sa – say the “O” like an “A”) Valley (Penfolds, ya dig?!) and the Clare Valley. So any recommendations for Sydney, Adelaide or the Barossa/Clare, please let me know! I’ll definitely try to keep up a few posts (most likely picture heavy – the big girl camera is definitely making these trips!) over the next week or so – fingers crossed for sunny weather. Until next time…

100th Post!

Wow! I couldn’t believe it when I posted yesterday and I was on my 99th post. It seems crazy to me that:

  1. I have kept this blog up as long as I have
  2. There are people still reading the blog (!)
  3. That Barr and I have been abroad for almost 10 months
  4. We are now living in Australia, something that wasnt really on the radar when we initially embarked upon this adventure

To all of yall that have read, liked, commented, re-blogged, etc Abby’s Roads, I thank you 🙂 Your comments (either in person or virtually) mean so very much to me. I’ve so enjoyed writing about my experiences, some of them more exciting than others, and to receive such kind feedback is really rewarding.

So how about some stats? WordPress offers a few statistics regarding readership, and while I’m not a slave to the numbers, I do enjoy seeing the patterns.

  • The United States, United Arab Emirates, and Canada are the top three countries from which I get hits (now I just need to up my Australia readers to capture all my former and present home countries!) Now, to my (few) readers in Guam, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan: spread the Abby’s Roads gospel 😉
  • People are inevitably curious (okay, nosy may be a better word – but I’m guilty of it too!) because my top viewed post is back when I posted on what our apartment in Dubai looked like – pictures get people every time!
  • The 2nd most viewed post is one of my personal favorites, and I’m really honored and pleased to say that True Life I’m an Expat Housewife is a popular post as well.
  • One of the stats provided is the search terms folks have used to get to my blog. You have your standard “Abby’s Roads”, “Abby Blanton”, etc, which I would expect; however, I love finding out the random searches people use – some faves include: “eid al adha 2013 similar to old testament”, “bambi learning to walk”, “pecan pie in abu dhabi”, and “abby simpson biltmore wedding”. Whatever gets ya here, yall!

Anywho, I bit of a random post today, but again, thank you for stopping by – it truly makes my day! Until next time…(and have great weekends!!)

Guest Restaurant Review on FooDiva: Don Alfonso 1890

Another day, another restaurant review! 🙂 Check out my second review for FooDiva’s fab site about my trip to Don Alfonso 1890, a hot new Italian eatery at the Shangri-La hotel in Dubai, near DIFC. A true Italian experience: yay or nay? Find out on FooDiva – buon appetito!

Mozzarella souffle: To. Die. For.

The Don Alfonso mozzarella souffle: To. Die. For.

UAE Art: Spotlight on Amira Rahim

Just in time for our move from the UAE (yup, we’ve touched down in Perth!), I found an artist whose work really appealed to me: the colors, the style, and the subjects – everything just worked, you know what I mean? I follow a Dubai-based online marketplace called Little Majlis on Instagram, and they posted a photo of one of Amira Rahim‘s pieces from her shop within their marketplace – I went to her Little Majlis “shopfront” and adored her other pieces! In particular she had a wonderful painting entitled Hajib Figure Study, and as soon as I saw it, I knew that I wanted it for our home.

Our lovely new piece of art

 

When we first moved to Dubai, Barr and I told each other that we wanted to leave the UAE with some unique art that really represented our time there, meant something to us. The seated woman wearing a colorful hajib by Amira was just the ticket. I emailed Amira the next day and requested the painting on canvas, and within a week picked up the painting from her home in Abu Dhabi – the process couldnt have been any smoother, and Amira was a real joy to work with – it was also really cool to meet her as she was a fellow American expat in the UAE – the world is small, yall! I cant wait to hang our beautiful painting 🙂 I particularly love the henna tattoos on the woman’s hands – such a special touch.

Happy, Sunny Palms: “This painting is a bright, happy illustration of palm trees that appear to be almost dancing. With the Dubai skyline in the foreground, it captures the essence of the UAE. Vibrant, bold, and ever-changing.”

Heat Wave: “This painting was inspired by life in the UAE. Hot, long summers with never-ending heat waves. A city as bright and vibrant as Abu Dhabi needed a contemporary abstract rendering.”

Definitely check out Amira’s Facebook, Instagram, and Little Majlis pages (as well as her personal website and blog) for more information on the artist, her pieces, and her story in the UAE. Her contemporary, abstract art is a true joy.

Amira Rahim's contact information

Amira Rahim’s contact information

Chasing Temperate Weather

My husband and I don’t do cold weather. He is naturally cold all the time (I, on the other hand, am struck with hot flashes – my mom and I have that in common!), and after my years in Calgary (where snow each month of the year is not uncommon), our dislike (disdain, hatred…whatever) for chilly weather is extreme. No skiing vacations for us! Now that being said, 100 degrees in April (+ humidity) is a bit extreme on the other end of the spectrum. Like today in Dubai. After confirming the current temps in Perth, it’s safe to say we are chasing temperate weather…

photo-27

And while we’re fully aware that we’re moving to a city that is on the precipice of their winter season, we also know that it will be no polar vortex that the states experienced. A little shopping may be necessary, however, as when we packed for Dubai, boots/sweaters/the like weren’t high on the priority list…Off to do some last minute packing! Until next time…