Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Welcome to Dubai, the Hollywood of Arabia

After quitting my job in Saudi Arabia, a friend of mine encouraged me to work in the UAE saying that I would be more contempt with the lifestyle there and also be able to drive which I probably won't be able to do in Saudi Arabia until 2050 if ever; however, I had my doubts as I have been to Dubai before and was not impressed by a human-made cosmopolitan city built in the middle of the desert. After all, Riyadh, is not too much different, minus the cinemas plus the abayas.

I think living in Saudi Arabia for some time has just gotten me to wish I lived anywhere, even in a neighbouring Gulf country which is practically made up of the same sand. Thus, I came to the UAE with high hopes of finally being in a normal place where I might be living for a few years. 

A small incident took place that day waking me up from my delusion of the 'great country' with Dubai being the 'greatest' city that a lot of people wish to live in. I took a Dubai taxi from the street and told him the name of my hotel stating the nearest landmark and the street name. The driver told me that the landmark , a mall, was on the opposite side of my hotel (which I knew was not true because I had already been there that morning and the taxi driver who drove me there from the airport pointed out the proximity of the mall which was literally across the street). Apparently, the driver with his limited English, had heard me wrong and took me to a different hotel starting with the same letter as my hotel. I told him that this was not my hotel, he insisted that it was! I pronounced the name again slowly a few times losing my temper that the driver was not even willing to say that he was wrong. He then asked me my location, and I told him the landmark again and the name of the street. He then took me there and said that there was no hotel by that name because he could not see it. I told him to go a certain way, the same way that the taxi from the airport had taken me, but he wanted to take a shortcut instead, and ended up going around the mall with the hotel behind us , so we could not find it as we could not see the name. He then parked and told me to get down because his shift finished and insisted that I pay him the 36 dirhams without even taking me to my destination. I told him he could not do that, but he insisted, so I insisted on taking a picture of the car number and told him I would complain. He told me I took you to your destination, but you didn't go down there (meaning the hotel which was not mine!) I told him that what he did was very rude. 

I was really mad after that and could not think clearly. I called my cousin and told him what had happened, he told me to tell him my location and told me it would take him 20 minutes to reach me from his office. I then turned around and found that the hotel was behind me, and realized why the driver had not found it, and the fact that he would have found it if he had gone the longer way, but he was in too much of a hurry. I called my cousin and told him not to bother as I had found it, he told me he was coming anyways to welcome me and show me around the city. 

We drove around and sat in a cafe at a hotel/golf club and caught up a bit before I asked him for his phone and filed a complaint against the driver. Hopefully, that way the driver will not take advantage of tourists and admit when he is wrong! At least we ended that part of the day with a beautiful scene and a lesson well learned; Dubai is not paradise; there is the good and there is the evil.
By the way if you ever ride with Dubai taxi X 448 remind him that leaving a lady in the street is not something a polite gentleman does.