Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Warning : This post contains negative obsrvations which be harmful to sensitive viewers. And if you have any intention of telling me to pi** off back to my own country - a bit of advice - DON'T BOTHER.

I think I have been here long enough, and have experienced enough to be qualified to start being honest about life in this giant sandpit. I wish someone had been honest enough before I came out, to stop looking at life here through sugar-coated, palm fronded glasses, maybe then, when reality bit, I would have been a bit more prepared.

Let's be honest : The European(ish) expats are not friendly and encouraging and helpful and dying to include you in their little cliques. They actually wish you (and your newbie enthusiasm) would leave them in peace to admire their latest gold charm bracelets or Gucci handbags.

Let's be honest : The Locals (Arabs) have a superiority complex (as if they actually created the oil), are REALLY not friendly and they are not glad that YOU are in THEIR country - as far as they are concerned, you are here taking their money and they wouldn't bat an eyelid if you just evaporated into the heat haze. They can BUY plenty more like you.

Let's be honest : The people that are left - Indian, Phillipino, etc - are the only ones who will smile and greet you, and that is mainly because you have the power to hire or fire them, so they are just brown-nosing you anyway!

Let's be honest : You might be earning mega-bucks, but you are going to be spending MEGA-bucks - essentials like rent, food, clothes, schooling, books are all going to erode the "millions" before you can say : "F*ck, prices are high".

Let's be honest : The magnificent skyscrapers and glittering malls are only the facade to a crumbling, stinking, rat-ridden, cockroach infested inner city which is swimming in gobs of spittal and decaying vegetables.

Let's be honest : There is no crime according to statistics, because nobody is going to report it - what's the use if the weak and voiceless are the victims and the well-connected and wealthy are the perpetrators.

Let's be honest : People here do not place a high value on other people, animals or property. Rudeness and arrogance abound, most are selfish and oblivious of anyone else's comfort or discomfort - they blow smoke in your face and your food, they use two or three parking spaces at once, they push in, they hawk and gag and spit within inches of you, they don't keep appointments or promises or guarantees. Cruelty to animals - wild and pets - is the norm and is almost a national sport. Cars are routinely scratched, sat on, bumped into and dented, whether accidentally or on purpose.

Let's be honest : Customer service is an unheard of art - and the quality of most goods means returning to the shop at least a couple of times. If you are lucky they will grudgingly send the item in for "repair" which takes 4 - 6 weeks. No such thing as an apology or compensation. And no such thing as a Consumer Council to help the ripped-off customers.

Let's be honest : There are very few camels in this part of the country - you will need binoculars to see one or two on the dunes. There are very few souks here - those that do exist sell mostly crappy Chinese plastic rubbish, no such thing as traditional Arabic crafts.

Let's be honest : Stallkeepers and shop-owners do NOT want to haggle - they certainly are not the eager, friendly merchants you think you are going to see. Mostly they completely ignore you, and don't really care if you walk away, but if they do rouse themselves, they will seldom good-naturedly barter with you, prefering instead to bark out the price in a "take it or leave it" tone.

Let's be honest : The desert loses it charm after a few hundred times dune-bashing, one can only take so much of the history and culture, the language is unintelligible and difficult to learn, the food is bland and boring - thank goodness for Indian, Italian and American.

Let's be honest : The grass does always look greener on the other side - maybe it's because of all the SH*T there!!

Ok, your turn now - tell me how wrong I am .....................


Emirati said...

Yes, this inferior country is as bad as it gets. Boy I sure need to start getting mugged shot stabbed or beaten in Johannesburg and Cape Town because everything is perfect there.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with you. I too am not from this country and adjusting to another culture is difficult. It willl get better and for the above reasons that is why i try to be as nice as possible no matter where I am . Because I always try to do the right thing.

secretdubai said...

Superb post. I've flagged it here.

Emirati - the fact that Country B is also bad doesn't excuse Country A's faults. It's a really weak and regrettable argument.

This place has a lot of problems - and one of them is the failure to face up to them, and the resort to mud-slinging to try and divert attention.

Emirati said...

Well secretdubai, Ive about had it with people complaining about things here, really if you want to complain suggest something for gods sakes, make it useful, if you do not like it alot simply do not live here. People HATE this country, they DESPISE the Emaratis (Because an arab apparently belongs on a camel not in a range rover), they dont look at themeselves first, no them and their countries are perfect, the broken down ghettos of birmingham and cape town are amazing history filled places, I do not know why it receives this amount of hate spite and contempt, as opposed to other countries, maybe its a built in thing that we are supposed to be perfect or else we confirm the western stereotype of useless filthy arabs, I have yet to see one westerner say one positive thing about the country. You will campaign her right to speak, but when i criticize her country in return, you will say it is a weak argument ? Your argument is weak, not mine.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Emirati ... you just don't read much, do you? "I have yet to see one westerner say one positive thing about the country." ... I, in fact, have said nice things about the UAE here ... look down to the 07 November, 2005 15:52 anonymous.

On the other hand, I have yet to say anything nice about you, mainly because you're a bit of a prickly nutcase whose Prozac prescription apparently ran out several years ago...

Anonymous said...

Oh, and as for you, Lulu ... seriously, get a grip. Have you ever lived in any big city before? Come on over to New York sometime, I'll show you rats. So no one likes you? Could it be your attitude, hm?

Emirati said...

hahahah since when do I care if you have anything nice to say about me ? Well anyway, I dont care if you think im a nutcase, its fine, as everyone youre entitled to your own opinion, once again please look internally before judging others and perhaps look at someones blog before u judge them. I didnt judge you did I ?

Anonymous said...

The Emirates receive this amount of hate spite and contempt, just because they claim for the title of the best, the most beautiful, the most prestijeous piece of land on the planet. So, just stop promoting yourself like that and ppl will accept the 'wrongs'.
And if one really dislikes something, he can always go and live somewhere else... Nobody asked you to come here. Don't want it - don't eat it.

Anonymous said...

The Emirates and Dubai in particular is an ostentatious, overindulgent, highly tacky, highly artificial, unbelievably overhyped cultural black hole that will probably only have people coming to see to see just how awfully 'Vegas' it is ten years from now, with absolutely no desire to ever want to live here.

secretdubai said...

What you're missing, Emirati, is that people complain about the places they live in. There are plenty of people moaning about New York, London and Johannesburg.

The difference is that UAE bloggers live in the UAE, and that's why they moan about it.

CG said...

The UAE was doing just fine 20 years ago. The only ex-pats here then were highly skilled professionals and 'very-happy-to-be-here' labourers. Somewhere along the line a whole load of 'scabby' foreigners descended on this land and decided to call the shots. They talk about poor service like they have been frequenting 5 star hotels all their lives, they think THEY know what labourers want (have you seen the queues in Stan outside the agencies to get a chance to come over here and toil in the heat?) Do you think these guys would rather have 6 out of their 8 kids die from disease and hunger or come here and sweat it out for a mere pittance that enables them to run a mini-business back in Multan. I too can complain about a lot of things here, but they are all superficial things like Malls and crappy drivers. If all the flip-flops got up and went home then we would no longer need grandiose centres and the driving would improve dramatically once we got rid of all the Pajeros and rental cars.
Yeh yeh, I know....I am all fired up and pissed off but you have to see the reality of it all. The problems came along with the gagging influx of aliens.
As for language difficulties, I think it is pathetic. Go to Dar El Ilm and they will get you started.

I recommend some evening primrose oil to cure you of your PMS....better still, why don't you ask a 'friendly' local for a glass of heloul to cure your woes. Make sure it is warm and freshly brewed.

Anonymous said...

I hear this comparison between dubai and vegas alot these days,there's nothing vegas about this place, Vegas is a very vibrant place with a unique identity.Anything goes in vegas,in
dubai there are a 1001 ways to get urself in hot water without even realising u did something wrong, believe it or not it is still a much more relaxed place than anywhere within a 3 hour flight of DXB. I feel u Lulu and i say this in support,not in contempt, if you cant handle it i think you should leave, its not worth the stress, you just might snap one day and get urself in a load of trouble like i did, its just not worth it.

CG said...

P.S. Lulu, you might be right about a lot of locals not happy to have people like you here. Try to learn some of the local manners and use them.

Tarryn said...

First of all, to all those who are commenting as "anonymous" - it shows how 'brave' you are that you won't even give your name when dishing out the criticism to Lulu. Second of all, I think it is really sad that one of you "anon"s claims that maybe it's Lulu's attitude that needs change, and cg's claim that she should learn some of the local manners. You think she hasn't tried that?? All that happens is that people think she is mocking them. Perhaps it's time that they look to changing their attitudes instead of just blaming everyone else. And last of all, emirati - are you so sure you would never criticise Lulu's home country if you found it inferior to your own?? You sure seem quite ready to ripping her to shreds, so maybe you should think twice about how innocent you are.

Taff-IN-Dubai said...

TO EMIRATI- i think they way that the UAE look after their own people is amazing, i totally agree with it. The UK is good for one thing, it is an island and keeps all the morons that reside there away from Europe.
People seem to forget that living abroad, somehow their home country seems nostalgically beautiful and romantic....what a heap of crap!
why leave then? ohhh don't start with the 'earn more money' routine!! if that's the case your country is crap for not paying enough, or taxing too much, or both.
I have lived abroad on and off for over 12 years and it is painful to return to the miserable, run down, over taxed, slum that is the UK.
Whilst i may think that the UAE could be better in certain ways, i am not going to ram what i think is wrong down the local population's throats.
Any dealings i have had with emirati's has been pleasant and runnign my own business here i meet locals on a daily basis...
So stop moaning DM & treat others as you would like to be treated and it usually works...

Emirati said...

"The Emirates receive this amount of hate spite and contempt, just because they claim for the title of the best, the most beautiful, the most prestijeous piece of land on the planet. So, just stop promoting yourself like that and ppl will accept the 'wrongs'.
And if one really dislikes something, he can always go and live somewhere else... Nobody asked you to come here. Don't want it - don't eat it."

We have ambition, is it wrong to be ambitious ? Is it wrong to live well ? Or are you more comfortable with an Arab working in the store or walking your dogs for a pittance instead ? We want to be the best, and history will tell if we do.

"The Emirates and Dubai in particular is an ostentatious, overindulgent, highly tacky, highly artificial, unbelievably overhyped cultural black hole that will probably only have people coming to see to see just how awfully 'Vegas' it is ten years from now, with absolutely no desire to ever want to live here. "

Youre being a tad rash there. I doubt that you have lived here for say more than 20 years. There is a part of the Emirates that you do not like, A Part of Dubai that you do not like, and you associate that with it being souless and whatnot. The Emirates, and the Seperate Emirates in them are just too diverse and wide ranged for you or anyone to be able to generally state that oh ABC is blah blah blah.

Emirati said...

Normally when we complain, we are subconciously comparing. Comparison is one of the basis of human knowledge and one of the ways that the mind thinks. Numbers are comparative, measurements are comparative. We have a standard in our heads, a level that we say OK, above this means the situation is ABC, below it means the situation is XYZ.

Now when we complain about countries, we are in fact comparing them again subconciously. Now we may not be comparing them to say country DEF, but arent our standards derived from our observations ? Where would we observe a phenomena that we would call "clean" that we would call "cultured" ? In none other than a country. I dont think we can expect a country to have atomic cleanliness or billions of years of culture, because thats impossible, our standards therefore are limited to that which we can see/observe/thought or read about.

When someone complains about the UAE, therefore he is comparing it to something he has seen/observed/thought or read about. Now of course most logically, does anyone here think that these are not from other countries ?

People call Abu Dhabi dirty. Define clean ? What is clean ? Where have you seen clean ? Could there be any cities that are clean by your definition? Give me an example of clean.

You have probably seen Clean somewhere else than Abu Dhabi. Point out that place, and I will also point out problems with it. If you complain about Abu Dhabi, boy are there some places in asia you need to see.

Anonymous said...

Dear Emirati, being ambitious isn't wrong at all. All I wanted to say is that ppl coming here are misled by all what they hear about the country,perhaps they expect to see the paradise here and in the end when they see even a cigaret butt on the street they start to scream.
As I said before, nobody asked us to come and live here, so if we don't like something... piss off to your homeland.

Anonymous said...

I loved the whole description. While I would recommend you try some other country, I would only do so to let you know that it does get better else where. As someone who has years in Dubai, and Bahrain. the refreshing life of spain has rekindled my belief in people. Some day when my duties are ended, I will return to the US. With fond memories of Europe and pity for those left in the Middle East. Take care.

BuJ said...

Hi Lulu,

For such an article that repeats the phrase "let's be honest" so many times you've been generalising rather than honest. Everyone's entitled to their opinions and I realise that you might be speaking from experience which might be the exception rather than the norm. However, the picture isn't as grim as you've painted it.

Yes some locals can treat you badly but have you tried to treat them the way you like to be treated? I bet if you have a puncture on the road and call your mechanic, a local will stop his car and fix your tyre and leave before the mechanic arrives.

Yes, some european(ish) people might have more money than you. It doesn't mean you should hate them.

Have you even tried to speak Arabic to an Arab? I am certain if you try (even very badly) then they will appreciate your efforts and will do their best to put you at ease and correct you in a way that will benifit you. You cannot go and blame the language. Seems like you've just had a bad day and want to take it out on something.
I know a lot of non-Arabs in the UAE who have not learnt that much Arabic. The main reason for that is that English is so widely spoken (much more than other Arab countries) which makes Arabic difficult to learn from scratch.

As for crime and statistics. Again lots of sweeping generalisations here. What a shame. Haven't you seen the pictures of locals named and shamed by sheikh Mo in the local papers for harassing women? Haven't you seen and heard the stories about the Sharjah slasher. Like any society there are problems here but I think they are fairly reported (in general).

However, I agree with you about customer services and camels. With regards to the former lots needs to be done, as for the latter you will need to venture outside town to see them (they will not come to you).

As for haggling, if you go to the malls and stores then not much haggling is allowed there. However, if you got to souks then definately. Why not start with tourist-friendly Karama (dubai) then venture into deeper waters? I'm sure it will be fun and entertaining.

Finally (this really cracks me up) you find American cuisine better than Arabic? Do you not realise that American food is a bit more than a collection of cuisines from all over the world (some of it is very good). As for Arabic, there are many types of food: Khaliji, Lebanese, Egyptian, Moroccan etc.. Have you tried these cuisines? I could recommend a few places if you are prepared to give it a go.

Happy exploring :)

BuJ said...

taff in dubai,

are you welsh?

Emirati said...

"Dear Emirati, being ambitious isn't wrong at all. All I wanted to say is that ppl coming here are misled by all what they hear about the country"

Well we have 2 perspectives here, the country has a good reputation for its good points, and a bad reputation for its bad points. One cannot realistically say that a place is so perfect. We have the good, we have the bad, most important is not to let on to overbalance the other.

"perhaps they expect to see the paradise here and in the end when they see even a cigaret butt on the street they start to scream."

Too many expectations may lead to too many disapointments

"As I said before, nobody asked us to come and live here, so if we don't like something... piss off to your homeland."

I believe youre entitled to your full right to complain, but I think there should also be limits. Like a wise man once said "I dont agree with what you say, but ill defend your right to say it" I think there are more constructive senstivie and less damaging ways to talk about topics, than to ridicule and humiliate.

I am against telling people to go away to their country, our country, our people still need your cooperation, to accomplish a set of tasks, which is why, to me, every expat is an invaluable resource of course. All expats are fully welcome into our country, but so long as there are of course limits adhered to.

Anonymous said...

I am not a big fan of Dubai, but Abu Dhabi rat-ridden and crime infested??

Downtown Abu Dhabi is among the safest places on this planet. I have spent all my 23 years here, and never have I or anyone I know ever been victim to a single robbery, theft, assault, or carjacking in Abu Dhabi.

This does not mean that there is no crime, but it should be among the safest capitals out there.

For that matter, I do agree about the custmer service bit

Momo said...

Hi Lulu

I am sorry you feel this way and maybe you have had bad luck, but you don't know what you have until its gone. After having lived over 2 years in Abu Dhabi I re-located back to Europe. I live in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe very cultural and interesting. But I miss AD, the people are where very nice and always smiling. I never had any problems or confrontation, (except some crazy taxi drivers, I agree with your previous post dont trust a red haired driver!) I always haggled in the small stores with both parties having fun and no one losing out. In AD you can have anything done at anytime of day, everyday of the week, you just need to know how to ask. Crime? maybe there is but no way close to the level of your home country. I do believe as big cities go AD is way the safest. Maybe you should take a trip back to SA to renew your batteries and figure out where you really want to live. My bet is that you will miss AD!
Good luck!!

giniuae said...

Hi Lulu
I also am sorry that you feel that way. Before relocating to Dubai I really enjoyed reading your notes on bad drivers, weird food stuff, street names aso. I have now been in Dubai for two months and I experience all the things you were talking about in your posts. I am French but was living in the UK for 7 years and despite all the "bad" things in Dubai (bad drivers, construction site...) I really enjoy living here and would not like going back to Europe (except to see my family of course!).
Try to see the positive side of things and you will probably feel better.

taff-in-dubai said...

to buj

yes i was born in wales

expat in dubai said...

To Lulu
The European expats are "unfriendly" as they think that due to their sometimes non-existent financial status, that they too are superior - which is rather farcical, as they would most certainly not be living the lifestyle they now have if they were still in their home countries. So I would NOT classify the Arab nation as superior - they have rightly earned their status here. It IS their country and that is something you need to realise. Who got what and how is immaterial � the bottom line is you are living in THEIR world. It is a known fact that anywhere in the world expat ppl are treated with the attitude of "you don�t belong here"
You don�t have to spend MEGA bucks as you put it for rent, clothing etc. Shop around, spend time looking for property and you WILL find cheaper alternatives.
Everything becomes boring and loses its charm when its done a few times � that�s life!! There are things I don't like about living here, but having lived abroad in a few places, you will always find things are not 100% satisfactory. Are you looking for Utopia?
Are you that bored that your only outlet is to criticize the place where you are currently earning a living and presumably living a lifestyle that you are not normally accustomed to?! And why should ppl not tell you to pi** off back to your own country - if you are that hacked off by all that is going on around you, surely you would move somewhere that would make you happier instead of moaning about your situation???????

kaya said...

Oii Guys take a CHILL PILL! Everbody has a day when everything goes wrong and nothing seems right.
On a day like this every fault seems magnified and one can rant.
Give Lulu a break.
Some of the stuff she has written bout hits the nail on the head at a lesser or greater degree.

Anonymous said...

hey u guys know what lulu means in farsi?
the boogey man.
in lulu's case, i think she is an ugly WHITE south african broad.

kaya said...

@ Anonymous of 11.09 pm
Thats not nice.Its a rotten mean callous thing to say. Also its very upseting not only to the person in question but to others.
You forgot to mention LULU means PEARl in arabic.
Why do you have to post as Anonymous? You are afraid of what?

SAfrican said...

He he - reality bites!!!!

We all arrive in Dubai after falling for pre-interview fairytale and after about 12-14 month we really recognize what we have let ourselves in for.

The time then is to:
1) Turn into a Jumeirah Jane type and spend hubbies money as fast as he earns it on ridiculously expensive Cafe Lates, Designer shoes and handbags and lunch with the other JJ-types while trying to drive like a local and leaving their childrens upbringing to the hired help.

2) Pack your bags an leave for some other country ( where the sales talk and reality will also have no relation.)

3) Go home - and decide if the problems and the reasons you left for originally is actually as bad as you thought.

4) Start drinking and turn into a purple faced sunburnt blubbering idiot that just lives for the next night at the club while trying to marry some young girl from an eastern country because his wife did a nr 2 or 3 in disgust.

5) Soldier on, swearing at the locals, the labourers, fellow expats, Jumeirah Janes, newbies who think the place is 'JUST FANTASTIC DOLL!' - in fact everyone else who dares to cross your way while trying to save some money to be able to retire in 20 years if the local 'government' do not find other ways of indirect tax to syphon that of too.

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Dee said...

I understand meeting some pompous fools who maybe locals/Arab but show me where you wouldn't find those?

On the other hand, I've also met with a few courteous and generous Arabs/locals. More on this on my blog here:


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Rock.the.Casbah said...

hey! I'm one of those people who deceives people into thinking great things about the UAE!

I realize that chances are nobody will read this two months after the original post...but for anyone who does and makes it to the end...

Speaking as someone who grew up in the Emirates, I love it. It's got its faults - some of those complaints rang a bell - but that's a given anywhere.

I know those of us who grew up in the Emirates really loved it then and we love it now, faults and all. Perhaps this is nostalgia - but I do return for several weeks each year... and given the choice between Canada and the UAE (and the rest of the world), I know where I'm going to go in four months when I graduate. And many of my friends are following the same path.

To be fair, I'm from Ras Al Khaimah - where the expats really are friendly, the food really is good (give me King of Berger Shwarmah over a hamburger any day!) and the prices are reasonable. And we've got cockroaches, but also a sunny beach - fair trade off in my books!

In terms of friendliness - never had a problem with that! I find both expats and Emiratis a lot more sincere and friendly (if less polite) than most people I've met in Canada (and I am Canadian).

Finally, I have to disagree with you about the souk experience. I've had some great conversations in the Blue Souq about politics, places, events. And with taxi drivers too! In fact, some of my best conversations.

It's not for everyone. But I'm very grateful for my time there.

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Anonymous said...

I got there on the back of a very remunerative contract. I left after 1 month. Never again in a place as racist as that. Discrimination is the highest I have ever encountered in the many places (many) I have been. Stuff the money, I'll keep my sanity.