Get in touch

Resilience and other life lessons I learnt while living in Dubai

A little disclaimer and ‘FYI’ about Middle East and Dubai (where I lived for many many years). Before I start, I’ll just put it out there. There’s a lot of hate towards Middle eastern countries, cities, culture and in specific to Dubai. So before talking about the Good and the Bad, I want to share a little insight here for anyone who’s genuinely interesting in knowing the other side of the story. 

I want to share what I hear about a 100 times every month. How Dubai is all oil and slavery money. Now, if you have even 0.1% trust in my word as a stranger, believe me on this, it’s not!

In fact Dubai’s revenue is not from oil at all it’s all from tourism. When tourism is down, economy goes down. The tourism board of Dubai works their ass off and do all kinds of social media stunts to have people come every season. Also, people don’t shit gold bricks there either. It’s like any other city. There are people who are broke, people who are rich. There are kind-hearted people and assholes too. 

Like every city and country having its good and bad. There’s a lot of bad to Dubai too, and yes I have faced it and honestly I hated those things too. But I also want to share the Good. The Good I took and learnt from there and will take with me for rest of my life, wherever I go. The lessons and personality traits I wouldn’t have picked if I didn’t live there.

I’ll keep this short. Just 3 for today.


This is in the blood of Emiratis culture (Arabs from United Arab Emirate) and hence in the core of every Dubai resident. Dubai has seen many ups and downs and has always recovered back up. Just a few years ago it was desert, the ruler said, one day it will rain in this desert, and of course the world laughed. Now it actually does rain there (real rain too not cloud seeding). With plants and agricultural drives the climate improved. An empty desert to world’s busiest airport with world’s number one airline didn’t come easy to this nation. They’ve face many many challenges and to this date, criticism. But resilience is in the nature of every individual there. People who live there, keep going on, through thicks and thins, and stay strong and eventually come out of the storms, sometimes quickly and sometimes slow but they do.

A good example is Covid too. Since the city runs on tourism (hence I referenced above) during covid and lockdown, tourism died. Instead of panicking and giving up and waiting for the world to recover. They took the challenge head on. The government employees and cops worked day and night to maintain peace and calm amongst the normal public. There was no supermarket or grocery shortage. The vaccination programs were rolled out and implemented faster than anywhere else in the world. And within one year, masks off!. Where as the rest of the world (not all) was still singing the covid song for 2.5 years at least. Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai made a video saying “Dubai is back!”

Never settling for anything less than the best

While working there in different agency roles, and government sector, I noticed a pattern. Both, Businesses and individuals want the ‘Best of the best’. Nothing less. It’s true that they’re not easily pleased. Heaps of revisions until it’s perfect and everyone likes it. It can get annoying too yes, but the end product looks finished, finessed, and well thought. The same kind of detail I started to apply in my personal work and day to day life. To try and get the best I can get and the best I can do, whatever it is that I do.

Putting some extra work and detail into something, that last round, adding the last touch of finesse, it always pays off.

Creating for the present not only the  future

A lot of times we hear people and countries have long term goals. In the next 50 years we will be “this and that”. What’s I learnt from the mindset of the rulers and the government there is that they want to make their Present as good as the future. In an interview, Sheikh Mohammed (The Ruler of Dubai) tells the interviewer, “I want my people to have good healthcare Today, not after 30 years” 

The difference I noticed between other governments and the UAE government is that UAE makes long term goals too, but they equally work to make the present lives better for their people. Similar mind-set gets translated down to the individuals who live there. People making their present as good as they want their future to be. 

Learning this I started to value and understand the importance of living a good life while I am young and and live in the present, not only plan a good retired life. Things I want to do, places I want to see, the good food I want to try, I do it today and in my present life, and not dream of it for my 60s. Yes it’s not always possible to do certain things, but having a drive to be wanting to live our best present life can help a lot, rather than leaving it to the future-me dreams.

There’s no perfect place but every place we live in, becomes a part of us. Dubai became an important part of who I am as a person, it showed me a new and very different perspective on life which I feel quite fortunate about, and hence I shared this with you. 

Thoughts? Get in touch with me on my Instagram 🙂