I, Cynthia, have been living in Dubai for two years now. Many of our clients as well as friends, acquaintances and relatives ask me again and again what I miss from Switzerland and how life is especially as a 'blonde' woman in an Arab country.
I am happy to share my impressions of my life as an expat in Dubai.... Have fun! 😉
The first question I am often asked is if I don't miss the nature in Switzerland - the mountains, the rivers, lakes and the forest ? Yes, I do. I miss running in the forest, swimming in an ice-cold mountain lake or hiking very much. Nevertheless, I also have nature here, which is special in a different way. The desert is impressive and although it is usually very hot, there are also very cold temperatures, especially in the evening or at night. Hiking here is also different - the mountains are barren and instead of cows you meet donkeys or goats in the mountains. When I run, I don't run past tall fir trees, but skyscrapers - more of a New York feeling - which is also nice and has a special charm.
Now about the weather... There are hardly any really cold and rainy weekend days - such a cozy Sunday, where you can just laze around at home.... Here the sun shines all year round. Hard to believe, but sometimes you would be happy about a little more 'weather'. When there's a sandstorm, you like to imagine that it's really cold outside and so you get at least a little 'homey' feeling every now and then, even if it 's around 40 degrees outside. The always good weather has however also its good sides. The sun gives you a lot of energy. Getting up in the morning is wonderful when the sun is shining. In Switzerland this was not always the case. In winter, when it is still cold and dark outside, I often had trouble getting out of bed.
Water and air - when I land in Switzerland by plane, I am thrilled every time again by the taste of the air. The air is just so fresh - especially if it has rained recently! The same goes for the drinking water. In Dubai, the tap water is drinkable and although we have a filter system installed at home, it doesn't stand a chance against the 'sweet' drinking water of Switzerland. Even when taking a shower in Switzerland, I am surprised every time - if you set it to cold or hot, it is cold or hot in a few seconds. Quite different here - the water is sparse and in summer hot water comes out of the pipes even on the cold setting. Here you learn to appreciate natural water.
Culinary we are spoiled in Dubai - every nationality is represented with great restaurants. Except for Switzerland. That's why I miss Swiss cheese - Emmentaler & Appenzeller, my favorite cheeses. Every time we are in Switzerland, the suitcases are filled with cheese. And for Marc, he can't miss a fondue and enough raclette cheese - his favorite foods.
Last but not least, I miss my family and longtime friends. In Dubai, you get to know people quickly, but as is often the case in big cities, rather superficially. Long-term friendships, as they are cultivated in Switzerland, are possible but rather rare. On the one hand, this is certainly a language problem and on the other hand, Dubai is an expat city - expats come and go. Only a few spend their whole life in Dubai.
What do I appreciate about Dubai?
Personally, I enjoy the omnipresent security in Dubai. I can walk home alone or get into a cab at any time - free of fear or anxious feelings. I have never experienced a situation where I felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
I also appreciate the cultural diversity. In Dubai, there are so many different people from different countries with different cultures, and yet the coexistence works very well. Respect is lived - people respect other religions and cultures and there is an open and accepting atmosphere. People are interested in other points of view, values and behavior. For example, last month I was at a real estate transfer with a couple from China as well as our employee Angeline (from the Philippines) - we had a really nice and positive encounter - that's what I like most about Dubai. 😊.
My conclusion: Both together make the difference
Sure, I sometimes miss the classic Swiss characteristics that we all take for granted, but maybe it's the differences that make the salt in the soup. I enjoy living in both worlds and try to combine and use the qualities, strengths and success factors of both Switzerland and Dubai.