The real Dubai behind the glitter and gold

Published:  7 Feb at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, India, Dubai, UAE, England
The average expat professional’s view of Dubai before he or she arrives as part of a considered career move is normally centred on the city’s luxury, amazing skyline and the high life as lived by those fortunate enough to have secured permanent employment.

Given that Dubai is all the above and more, opening your mind as well as your eyes will reveal the real Dubai with its fascinating culture and rich history. Exploring the reality of this unique corner of the planet starts with a visit to the original heart of the city around Dubai Creek, home to many traditional souks. Middle Eastern traders arrive from all over the region to sell their traditional wares, and pearls are as important nowadays as they were when they represented Dubai’s original source of income.

Dubai’s culture is represented in its food, with luxury restaurants only a smaller, extremely expensive sector in an amazingly varied foodie heaven. Bur Dubai district offers gastronomic delights from Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines, and local markets serve traditional dishes redolent of the desert and its ancient tribes. One important cultural aspect of Arab life which has remained the same for generations is the art of falconry, famed in song and poetry for centuries and still practiced in the desert surrounding Dubai.

Fast-forwarding to the 21st century, Dubai’s world-famous malls may well represent the epitome of luxury living, but they’re also fun! They offer ski slopes, ice rinks, aquariums, cinemas and more, and people-watching here is an art as well as an occupation for many Western expats. The downside is the temperature – the aircon’s on its coldest setting, making wearing a coverup essential. Female expats don’t need to worry about wearing a burkini on the beach as the UAE isn’t as conservative as its GCC neighbours.
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