First days in Dubai – OMG it’s hot!

First days in Dubai – OMG it’s hot!

The day has come. I had a flight around 3 pm and once again I convinced myself the morning flights are the best. When you fly in the afternoon, you have a half of day to think. Thinking of moving away is not good. Anyways, everything was packed and soon I was at the airport. The line for security check was the longest I’ve ever seen on Zagreb’s airport (I always forget we also have a touristic season) and the duty free area was reconstructed since my last flight. I was chatting with Jaime when I realized I have 10 minutes to buy Cedevita and I run to duty-free shop.

As I mentioned before, I was flying Qatar Airways for the first time. When I was doing my online check in (you can do it from 36 hours up to 90 minutes before the flight), I couldn’t choose the seat I wanted. For long haul flights I always choose an aisle seat so I can get up whenever I want and not when other 1 or 2 persons in my row are awake. So I chose aisle seat – it told me I need to choose another one. I did – and the same story again. So I pressed the random middle seat and of course it accepted it! The middle seat is the worst one. You need to share arm space with 2 persons and you still can’t get up when you want.

And there I was, sharing my arm space with 2 people for 7 hours to Doha. First, we landed to Budapest just to pick up more passengers and stayed on the ground for an hour. Luckily, Qatar doesn’t stop entertainment when landing or on  the ground (what most of the companies do) so I continued to watch a movie. They served us three meals – first one before Budapest: tortilla chicken wrap (which I couldn’t eat because it was too spicy!) with mango sponge cake; lunch one hour after departure from Budapest and snacks like chips or chocolate soon before landing. When they were serving lunch, I asked the stewardess for something that is not so spicy, but she answered everything is a bit spicy. A bit spicy means a bit spicy, not that people who usually don’t eat spicy food cannot eat it! So I chose chicken in tomato sauce with spicy rice, beans salad, and chocolate ganache cake. Also, I had my last glass of wine in a year probably.

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Qatar Airways Lunch

When I went out from the plane in Doha, the first thing crossed my mind was “No way it is this hot!!”. It was midnight with 33 degrees and probably 99% humidity!! 33 degrees, feels like 8164218910! Shit. If it is going to be like this, and this was at midnight, I am going to melt. I felt like I couldn’t breathe because all that humidity so I ran to the bus and looked forward to the cooled airport. One of the first things I saw in Doha Airport was a Ferrari. Ok, wow. Everything was super luxurious and people were fascinated by its look. I was very thirsty so I focused myself on finding something to drink more than checking out the cars around the airport. I found some little duty free and bought 0,75L Evian water (the only one they had -.-) for 1,60 € and went to find my gate. In the meantime, I went to the bathroom and I am pretty sure there was some gold on the wall. Or something goldish, but who knows.

I was thrilled to see Dubai from the air in the night, but it was already late and I fell asleep even before the takeoff. The flight to Dubai was only an hour long, but I woke up few times because of cold (they are really crazy with this A/C and I was wearing a sweater!) and of course I overslept the landing. Finally, I was here. It was 3 am Dubai time, but still, there were lots of people around. I headed straight to the immigration and waited for 20 – 25 minutes in line (once again, it was 3 am, I am curious how big the lines are during the day). Most of the people in the lines were Indian or Afro-Americans, I saw maybe few more Europeans around and I started to think that situation in the city is probably the same. All the immigration officers were Emirati, dressed in long white robes (dishasha) with a headscarf. You need to give them your passport with printed visa, they make you an eye scan, take a photo and stamp your passport and paper with visa. As I entered with employment visa, now I have less than 60 days to get my residency permit. Anyways, the officer was very nice and smiley so the whole process was pleasant and done in maybe 2 minutes. I went to pick up my luggage, changed 20€ to dirhams to have some cash just in case and went to the arrival hall to find a person who was supposed to pick me up.

He found me, helped me with luggage and we took a taxi to the place where I am staying. So hotel’s residency is 10 – 15 minutes ride from the hotel and we have a bus which picks us up and takes straight to the hotel right in front of the building. I am sharing an apartment with 5 more girls, 2 girls in each room. Unfortunately, we have only rooms, kitchen, 2 bathrooms and room with washing machine – no living room – so I barely see them at home. My roommate is a Filipina and she is currently on a vacation for the next month so I have the luxury of being alone in the room. When I entered the room, it was cold to death inside so I opened the balcony door immediately and I didn’t close them since then. We put the A/C down, now it is on “only” 25°C, but I still sleep covered with a duvet and another blanket on my neck – I am surprised I didn’t get sick because of it already. When you go out from the building, the temperature difference is just huge. During the day temperature is from 40 to 44°C and around 32 – 34°C during the night. The temperature itself is not the only problem, worst is the fact the air is very humid (even with only 44% humidity, you feel it like it is much more).

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Everything is covered with sand in Dubai

I didn’t really go out yet, it is just too hot during the day. Yesterday I went only to the supermarket to buy some things and I convinced myself once again everything is full of sand. Our balcony is yellowish because of it and up on a picture you can see a silver car, which now looks gold-ish. I didn’t really like the supermarket – I couldn’t find normal cheese or toilet paper, there were lots of people wandering around and the store was definitely not nicely ordered like at home. I’m still totally culture-shocked and I will need some time to adapt. I just hope the temperature will go down soon so I can spend more time out. Also, tomorrow I am starting to work so I am excited and looking forward to it. This is how my first days in Dubai looked like…

* read more about how I finished in Dubai *

Photo credits: 1, other photos taken by Maja

Written September 6, 2014

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Maja goes to Dubai!

Maja goes to Dubai!

How did that happen?!

In one moment I was asking for the internship in Europe or eventually Mexico, in another moment I was going to Dubai! They sold a story about Dubai and they wanted my answer as soon as possible, but I couldn’t make an immediate decision on my own. I came there thinking about 6 months in Ireland or some similar European country or I was imagining myself working in some beach hotel in Mexico. For 6 months. Because that was school requirement to get a diploma. Because we have already planned what is going to happen after. Suddenly, I needed to say if I want to go to Dubai for a year, take it or leave it.

Maja goes to Dubai

Now is pretty obvious I said yes. I said yes because I could spend some time working in a world famous hotel in one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Maybe not beautiful, not interesting, not … – but definitely fascinating and constantly changing city. In the meantime one year became two, the hotel changed a starting date from October to September and I found myself packing again. They bought me a ticket, one way with Qatar Airways, with a layover in Doha. First I was thrilled because I wanted to fly with them. Then I was thrilled even more when I saw they allow 30 kg of baggage free of charge, but I couldn’t find how much they charge for a second bag. I called a local office and a lady (who had no idea about anything about the company and she needed to check somewhere how much they charge – like it is a problem to remember one number, shame on you Qatar – or better, shame on you Croatian workers) told me they charge 30 USD for every kilogram more than those initial 30 (!!). How to pack a life in 30 kg? How?? I already wrote about my packing problems, but this time, it escalated and I went straight to phase three.

Every time I get frustrated and sad because I need to leave something behind. For the fourth time in last two years, I am leaving my family, Frida and my friends and going to live in another country. From the U.S., Germany, Switzerland and now U.A.E. I am leaving everything again, why can’t I at least bring my things? 😥 Once again I asked mom to sit down next to me while I am trying to make a decision what to take and, somehow, I packed.

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Dubai

It is hard to say goodbye, again

This morning I went to a bank to close my accounts. One more hard step because it means fewer connections with home. And what if somebody will want to send me money (like that happens, but hey you can never know  😎 ) and I have only credit cards?! Anyways, I went to the bank and the bank lady started to ask me questions why I am closing it, why I don’t want a new credit card, standard why this why that questions. I said I’m moving abroad and she started to be pretty pushy with questions like where am I going (this one was ok), where am I going to work and how much will I earn (seriously??). In the meantime, some random lady overheard the conversation and she started to cry, telling me how her two daughters live there for last 9 years and how hard is that for her. I hugged my mom while going out of the bank and told her “Mom, please don’t cry when you tell to somebody I am in Dubai.”  😕 Leaving is not hard only for those who leave…

However, over past couple of years, I faced with lots of challenges related to all that moving around and people calling me brave because I picked up my things and left. I don’t think I am brave, I just didn’t want to watch life passing me by, I didn’t want to stay in this country being unemployed and unhappy. I decided to rather be a foreigner wherever I go than be miserable in Croatia. It was a logical choice and I was not scared of it. This time leaving is a bit different – I am going to a completely different country, with a culture I’ve never met before, with strict laws, almost no alcohol, bacon, and prosciutto (oh prosciutto!). I have no idea what is going to happen, how I’m going to live or when I am going to come home for a vacation. Maybe in a year.

All I want now is to spend a longer period of time in one place. I am sick of moving, packing and saying goodbyes every few months. Everybody thinks how awesome it is to travel around all the time. It is, first few times. And it is, when nothing is keeping you in one place. Next two years, my home will be in Dubai. I am scared, thrilled, terrified and excited in the same time. But most important, I am packed!

Bring it on, Dubai!

 

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