I decided to take a one year Visiting Professor of Psychology position at the American University of Sharjah so we packed up for our third time living in the UAE. We do love it there and I was eager to spend time with my brother and his wife who live in Dubai again.
In our previous years in country, Sharjah was mostly a place we went through on our way to the huge booze store in the emirate past this one. Sharjah is not known for it’s party atmosphere as it is dry (no alcohol) and much more conservating. But we found out it has lovely museums and old places to visit. It has a nice water front although possibly not bikini frolicking area.
There was a new mall near us plus two smaller ones with Carrefour and Spinneys (grocery stores we like) in them. We also had a great medical center and tons of restaurants and movie theaters around.
My favorite jaunt was the huge fruit and vegetable souk and fish market which is now inside and air conditioned but still has a very market feel to it. The range of offerings is incredible and I miss that a lot. We made weekly trips there given how many visitors came to stay. That actually was the best part of our year as we had back-to-back family and friends staying with us. It pushed us to not be complacent and to get out and explore more which is always a good thing. Anytime I get my family to visit is a good time
Places we enjoyed:
Al Wasit Wetland Centre
Arabian Tea House
House of Wisdom
Khor Fakkan beach and damn area
Al Mamzar Beach Park
Sharjah Central Souk
Al Majaz Waterfront
We had a house on the campus which was in a beautiful university city area. Loads of gorgeous manicured gardens around us and it was lovely and quiet. Sometimes a little too quiet but overall a wonderful year.
Ben was one of the first group of students at our new college in Dubai — International Horizons College. He graduate with his associates degree and is ready to transfer to the US (or anywhere really). He eventually chose University of South Florida in Tampa and is heading into International Relations.
Unfortunately we were in the US but happily Uncle Tim was at graduation.
Dubai manages to amaze constantly and the New Year fireworks were impressive — the Littles and I watched on live television from our comfy villa though. Older boys were out and about with their uncle and friends. Braver souls than I am to delve into 1.5 million people expected were out watching fireworks at both the Burj Khalifa and Burj al Arab.
It’s another beautiful morning though this January 1. I will miss this view when we leave here in 3 weeks. I am not sure where next New Year’s Eve will be spent (Florida probably) but I am hoping for another year as amazing and wonderful as this one has been.
Dubai is known for great food. I don’t think there is a single cuisine that we cannot get here. We are also lucky to have my brother here who is a top chef and been connected to various amazing restaurants here.
I am partial to those on the beach with good sunset views.
Also love the Indian food. The mosaic is from flower petals for a Kerala festival. With so many cultures here, there is always someone celebrating something!
The souks (markets) are fun to head to and of course cheaper. The big fruit and vegetable market is a noisy experience but the range of produce and freshness is incredible. This is one of the stores during mango season:
The fish markets are also neat and plenty of people around to help clean items for you
Also wonderful bread from all cultures. Love the small shops:
We also have great water parks for when it is cool enough. Winter is our beach time.
Dubai is a land of surprise and a place you can be on the beach for the morning, hit the ski slopes for lunch, haggle over a carpet in the old souk in the afternoon, and then dine in some of the top restaurants in the world for dinner.
Most people live in apartments but villas (housing areas) are growing rapidly. Ours looks over a lovely lake and we have a small garden that is constantly filled with flowers.
The kids have been to the penguins in the ski slopes at Mall of the Emirates and ice skated at the Dubai Mall.
We all love to go into the older parts of Dubai with the spice souk and gold souk. Taking an abra ride (water taxi) across the Creek is a must – still very cheap and fun.
The UAE is a relatively new country founded in 1971. Since then and the discovery of oil, it has grown from a sleepy, Bedouin region to one of the leading group of cities in the world. Dubai is known mostly for trade and tourism while Abu Dhabi is more about culture and education. Abu Dhabi leans toward being more family oriented and little tamer than Dubai and the other emirates are quieter still. We were lucky to live in Abu Dhabi from 2000-2003 before the malls came and I’m glad we knew it then. Today having lived in Dubai for the past two years, the differences and growth are intense but exciting to see.
People have many views toward Dubai and misconceptions. First of all – Yes, women can drive (it’s only in Saudi Arabia this is an issue), and no, women do not have to cover their hair or wear a veil (again that is in Saudi and a couple of other places as shown by media). We do have fun with henna every now and then.
There are some signs in the malls stating modesty is required such as no short shorts or bare midriffs but I have seen plenty of people pushing this with no problem. However out of common courtesy it is nice not to wander around half naked in malls etc. Beaches are fine to wear bikinis.
We do ride camels occasionally but not back and forth to work.
We do have lots of sand. On the beaches. Outside the cities. And during storms, it comes through the cracks around the doors a bit but nothing horrible. There are also teams of road workers who spend their time shoveling the sand from the highways and putting it back into the desert. Job security in this.
Wow when I look at the blog, I see it’s been almost two years since I posted. And given this is our travel blog and the fact we have moved overseas and had amazing travels in those two years, that is a sad time lapse. My goal is to update and retroactively put in the places we have been plus share our summer travels.
For now lets start with where we are living. We moved to Dubai January, 2013 and have been having a great time.
This is the view from my office. I came to help start a new college:
Our first Easter in Dubai, Jake and I decided that on a trip to Abu Dhabi we would visit the pet souk and get a bunny for the Littles who were seriously missing their dogs in the US. However we made the mistake of holding a floppy eared beagle instead of the bunny and immediately fell in love. After turning over ridiculous amounts of money (we are normally shelter-dog people so this was painful and against our regular values), we drove home with this guy.
The kids were all enamored with him and he quickly has become a family member. Took awhile to get a name down but then we decided on Darwin (yes that goes with Beagle). We have always had border collies and labs before but my mom has a bloodhound so I am somewhat familiar with the trials and tribulations of hounds. Darwin has lived up to this reputation spectacularly and is a crazy and wild pup. He is not to be trusted with food, trash, shoes, clothing, small toys (we look like an amputee ward), or anything he can get into his mouth really. I’ve never known a dog eat so many things and so rapidly destroy household items. He took ages to housebreak but thankfully we have tiles throughout the house.
I don’t really know why he is adored by all of us but somehow he is. Certainly has made Dubai more home-like.
After living for three years in Abu Dhabi back in 2000-20003, this move was not quite so crazy as we “thought” we had a good handle on the country. That was until we realized that Dubai is now basically 4 extra cities than we remembered. Not just extra suburbs but entire high rise areas with parks/lakes/malls etc. Oh and then there are islands filled with new hotels and houses/apartments. Amazing to see the growth.
We moved into our 4 bedroom villa in Springs and it’s lovely. We overlook a small lake and the bougainvillea everywhere and other flowering shrubs and trees are lovely. It’s a little oasis in this huge and packed city. After a few trips to Ikea, the house is comfortable and very relaxing.