Please educate the room as to why I’m beefing you, for already starting off your weekend on a Thursday, while I’m here, begging the clock to ‘gbe body’ a little bit for Friday.
Haha, xri bou dah. So here’s the thing, Dubai has five working days, like the rest of the world, but because it’s an Arab nation, Friday is reserved as their holy day. But you’re one to talk. While you’re eating Sunday rice and chicken, I’m already answering and dodging emails at work. So work is Sunday to Thursday, while we have Friday and Saturday for the weekend.
😤Okay, if you insist. Now speaking of the weekend, what are things you can and cannot do on a night out in Dubai?
Uh-oh. I am the absolute worst person to ask this, I’m very devout and I never go out. But, I know some people who do and from what I gather, people do drink. So it’s easy to assume that you know, Muslim country, no alcohol, but in places like clubs and indoor events, people have access to drink. You know, you can get a license to sell alcohol, but it won’t be like, at the front of the store.
And besides that, if you’re buying alcohol, you have to show ID and that name better not be Muslim. So ‘Mustapha’, ‘Amina’, just take Fanta like the rest of us. Although, I’ve heard of people going to other emirates to purchase alcohol regularly.
Oh wait, one more thing.
Let’s av it!
During the holy month of Ramadan, nobody wants to know, you are absolutely not drinking or eating in public places. If you’re carrying anything edible, make sure it’s covered so people don’t know what it is. Don’t even chew gum. Alcohol is out of it.
Let me branch real quick. So you’re a devout Christian in a largely Muslim country. How easy is it to worship in Dubai?
Quite easy actually. Christians get a whole portion to set up churches and worship, but just with the request that they’re mindful of other religions. So you can’t be preaching in buses or dropping canopies outside because you want to do crusades, but fully you can worship here.
Got it. Now how about the other one, you know, greens and such?
So this one, I have no idea about. But if half a brain is chilling in your head, or even just a crumb of brain, you won’t even dream about trying such in Dubai.
Ha, asked and answered. Now Nigeria is one of those Hennything is possible kind of places, how come you left?
So I first visited Dubai in 2008 and when I tell you I was blown away by this city. Clean, organised, super safe. Well, it was super safe that time. So I just thought —
Wait, wait, wait. ‘Was’? What happened here?
Okay wait, let me not say was. Like I said, Dubai is clean, organised and super safe. There are cameras on every corner and it’s fully normal for people to just get out of their cars with the engine running or with the keys inside the car.
*Local Lagosian attempts to relate.*
So it’s pretty much safe. But being a part of the UAE, a very serious experience rubbed me the wrong way and guess who was responsible for it? Nigerians.
Oh no. What did we do again?
So a group of Nigerians in Sharjah, another emirate in the UAE, robbed a Bureau De Change. I’ve been in the UAE three years and this was literally the first time I was hearing about a robbery. I think that just settled it for me that nowhere is exactly 100% safe.
Why always us?
Man, it was so embarrassing and honestly just sad to hear about. You never want to hear your country placed in the wrong light, even though that’s almost inevitable with Nigeria. But to have the bad news travel and be present in a whole other country, it was just … bleh.
But to happier things. Let me continue from where I veered off. In 2008, when I visited Dubai for the first time with my family, I absolutely fell in love. I wanted to come here for my bachelors, but my family decided against it. But thankfully, it was agreed that after NYSC, I’d do my masters here. Before NYSC finished, I was living on my laptop setting everything up. I came in for my masters on January 15th. Hay, I just hit my three year anniversary in Dubai. Whoop.
I’d send you a gift, but you’re pretty much living in one, manage that abeg.
So how was schooling in Dubai? Feel free to ruin our Minister of Education’s day.
Haha. You know what, I went to school in Babcock, so it’s not like a good education was strange to me.
Hm. Muzz be naize.
But broadly, if I had to compare both systems, Dubai wins. I don’t know if it was curated that way, but we were very few in my Masters class and the lecturers gave us a level of respect I just wasn’t used to.
They spoke to us like adults, allowed rational discussions. Somehow it always felt like you were learning from your friends. I have to say, it’s almost as if these Dubai people have the education thing down to a science. Accommodation, learning environment, all of it just works. But this shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
*Blocks every memory of UNILAG’S New Hall toilet with the blood of the Lamb*
So wait, you work in Dubai now. How easy was it, getting and holding a job on an immigrant visa?
So I came to Dubai on a student visa, and during the period of my education, I interned at a company who was gracious enough to retain me after the internship ended. As soon as my student visa expired, they sorted out my employment visa. The employment visa runs for two years, and after two years, your company will re-apply for you.
But for people looking to visit or stay a little longer, there are like three ways to apply: there’s a visiting visa, a student visa and a work visa. I don;t think Dubai does allows for a Permanent Residency. There’s another one year visa for business owners, but I’m not too sure how it works. I do know it is quite expensive, so you have to be ready to pay up.
Got it. So what’s a random thing about Dubai that blows your mind every time?
You know, now that I really think about it, Dubai is so safe! Earlier this week, an alarm went off while I was at the metro. Any other place, like just imagine I was in Nigeria and that alarm went off, no window would have been too high to hold my jump.
But here I was just squinting and looking around like, like ahan, who is disturbing the peace? I feel that secure, even with the whole stealing incident.
Fada Lud. Nigeria is waiting.
Okay, let’s check and balance this. What’s a random bad thing you can’t stand?
What can be bad in this place actually. Let me think.
Aha, the sun! You think Nigeria sun is hot, but then you meet its senior brother that was a wicked senior in boarding school. Between July and August, it can go as high as 50 degrees. The heat is alarming here. But thankfully, everywhere is air-conditioned, so it’s only if you’re really out and about that you’d feel it. Oh and accommodation prices, whew! Better come correct with the money.
Good, ojoro cancel ojoro just a smidge. Curious here, what do residents of Dubai think of Nigerians?
You know what, they actually really like us. They think we’re fun. They really think we’re rich…
Gee. I wonder what African Princes in Dubai made them think that?
Haha, well. They think we’re really smart, but they accept that we can be a little cunning. Even when the theft happened in Sharjah, while it reflected very negatively on us and I was a bit embarrassed to admit that I was Nigerian, people are mostly over it now. We’re still very much loved here, so that’s good.
Okay, let me take it back to work. I know I’m doing myself over here, but what’s a typical workday like for you in Dubai? Rush hour traffic in Dubai and Rush hour traffic in Lagos, which one is a woman most likely to give birth in?
It’s even good you asked this. Let me give a little context. I’ve interned in Lagos. I lived on the outskirts and worked on the island, so I had to be up at let’s say 4:45 AM every day to avoid traffic. In Dubai, because I like to get extra sleep, I have two alarms. One that goes off at 6:30 AM and the other one that slaps me from bed at 7:00 AM, max 7:05 AM. And that’s only because I take time dressing up. If I really wanted to, I leave home at 8: 10 AM. Work starts at 8:30 AM, but I am too sure it’s only going to take me twenty minutes to get to work, so I can actually wild out a little bit.
See, it’s okay. I don’t want to hear about the traffic again. Interview over.
Ah no oh, you must hear this gist. I walk from my house to the metro, that takes four minutes. Take the train, there are two stops to my office. Walk from there to my office. If both traffic lights stop me, it takes me seven minutes to walk to my office.
Now, because I am so confident in the public transport system, and so many people are as well, I don’t even know about the rush-hour traffic situation. I’ve never bothered with a driving license because these buses and the trains, the whole transport system, it has me covered fully.
So if you want to compare with Lagos, don’t even try it. Even if you’re travelling between Emirates, it won’t take you up to two hours, it’s that good.
Okay oh. Thank you for flexing on us like that.
Are there any habits you’ve picked up since you started living in Dubai? Something you didn’t do in Nigeria?
See, I love my bed. Like it’s my best friend. If I wasn’t such a homebody, I’d probably be into yoga and more exercising. There’s always room to get into it though… but my bed you see.
I get it oh! Lazy-people cyber fist bump.
But I will say, I walk a lot more in Dubai. Like just in the evenings, casual strolls. If anyone suggested that in Lagos, I’ll just tell them to lead the way, and I’d follow them at the back in a car. Nobody got time for that!
Haha. But, but, would you ever consider coming back to live here?
I’d say, never say never, but I’ve tasted the good life here and I have to say, it’s sweet oh. Let’s see.