What Living in Dubai Taught Me

Due to last night’s unfortunate fire incident in Dubai, lots of things have been on my mind. Watching The Address Downtown Hotel burn in front of my eyes, affected me the same way, as if it was someone close to my heart or a precious family member in distress. My attachment with Dubai does not only limit to the fact that this is a city where my home is and where I earn my bread & butter; but it extends to the whole city, its buildings, and its people.

Last night I felt like if I had the power and the means, I would have personally gone on site and helped douse the fire out. It gave me heartache to see that hotel on fire, not only because the building was on fire, but because I was vary of the mixed reactions and publicity Dubai will get regarding the incident on International Media and Social Media. I was right of course, a lot of bitterness and hatred came out last night from people that don’t live in Dubai; a lot of jokes about the fire, a lot of jokes about Dubai in general, and it tormented me.

People that don’t live in Dubai or don’t have an attachment with Dubai will never understand the pain; or even why we hardcore Dubai loyalists get so offended when we hear anyone say anything remotely bad about our dear city, Dubai. We have seen Dubai progress from an oasis in the desert, to a world-class multicultural city and this fact makes us proud. After living 13 years in Dubai, after seeing a lot of changes happening – changes to the infrastructure, to the logistics, to the people, to the city in general – one feels a part of this city and loves it deeply.

Mistakes and unfortunate incidents are uncontrollable and sometimes happen due to extraneous and extrinsic factors, which are not in control of anyone. Last night’s fire incident was not something anyone could have controlled or even fathomed it would happen. Dubai has world-class security, safety teams and departments working overtime, to ensure the safety and security of all its citizens & residents. Dubai Police is one of the best Police departments in the world; despite all of the security and safety preparations, if this happened, it is extremely sad and disheartening.

However having said that, hats off to the Civil Defence, Police and Emergency services last night for reacting swiftly and smoothly to the fire incident and averting a major disaster. Apart from few minor to moderate injuries, there has been no incident reported of a loss of life. The firefighters worked overnight to ensure the fire is contained, doesn’t spread and that everyone in the vicinity is safe. The safety & security teams in Dubai ensured that the city is given its saving face opportunity with grace and panache; ensured that the fireworks continued.

Apart from the security and safety teams, the people of Dubai itself rose up to the occasion and showed what living in Dubai means; living in Dubai means spreading love & solidarity in the time of need, it means opening up their homes to people who are looking for a space to sleep & get through the night and it means expressing generosity and kindness. People from every nationality, race, religion and culture tweeted using the hashtag #NeedAnAddress and offered space in their homes, to displaced people due to the fire.

Living in Dubai from the past 13 years has shown me that people from different race, religion etc can in fact live together harmoniously. Yes, there are the odd cases of discrimination or racism, but on most parts, Dubai is a multicultural haven and a true global village. This city has raised me to be a good resident and to be a good human being. This city has taught me to be charitable, because Dubai itself cares. Dubai rises to the occasion, time and time again, to do remarkable charitable acts; which gives me the motivation to be charitable too, since it all starts from the grass roots.

Dubai has shown me a side of people that I would never have seen, living in any other normal city. Dubai has Pakistanis which are friends with Indians and they live peacefully, Dubai has Muslims and non-Muslims peacefully coexisting, Dubai has holidays celebrated throughout the year – not only Islamic holidays, but Easter and Christmas etc too. Dubai has a great mix of tourists and residents. Dubai has its urban modern futuristic side to it and at the same time, got its old city charm in the form of the Creek, Bastakiya and relevant areas. Living in Dubai, people make friends from literally rest of the world; because rest of the world comes to Dubai.

Like the lyrics of the Emirates Airlines in-flight song say “It is nice to go travelling to Paris, London and Rome, but it is so much nicer to come home.” Frank Sinatra was right, Dubai does feel like home and it is always nice to be here. Burn the passport.

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