We got to Dubai by 6 in the morning, the weather was cold but there was life at the Airport. Getting cleared by immigration was pretty easy. We lined up at the airport arrivals terminal, got in front of an Arab Guy who sat behind a desk, he collected our passports and typed for 5 seconds on his computer. He then asked us to stare at an electronic facial recognition system built into the pillar right beside him. The whole process took just one minute and that was it, welcome to Dubai.
Dubai for me was a breath of fresh air. That was my first International trip and it felt surreal experiencing a functional, law-abiding society. Below are some of my observations.
1. Motorists respect pedestrians
There is a popular saying in Nigeria that a Zebra crossing is only meant for Zebras. This means that regardless of a zebra crossing, a pedestrian needs to exercise extra caution before they attempt to cross the road, else, they may get knocked down. The reverse was the case in Dubai. We never had to run across the road out of fear of being hit. From the morning we arrived, it didn’t take long before we realized that a motorist will always stop for a pedestrian. One time in Deira Market, I even saw cars stopping for motorists who were still 10 steps away from the Zebra crossing. I was so shocked that I even had to recorded a video of this incident.
2. Safe and Secured
I stepped outside my house in Yaba, the morning after I returned to Nigeria and within seconds, I had to put my phone in my pocket. Alas someone on a speeding bike could just come close, snatch the phone and disappear. This was not the case in Dubai. Within the first 24 hours, I exercised the kind of security consciousness I have grown to practice in Nigeria. It didn’t take long however for me to realize that this was a safe country. Nobody was going to snatch your phone, no cab Guy will kidnap you and use you for rituals, Armed Robbers will not come and invade your home/hotel at night. I remember making a joke out of the fact that we walked around with over 2 million naira worth of Dirhams in our pockets, without even realizing it. Something you can’t try in Nigeria, you’d just be looking over your shoulder to make sure someone has not started stalking you.
3. Everything works!
We were at IMG World of Adventures this fateful day and one of us on the trip went to one part of a restaurant to clean his hands. A few seconds later he screamed in shock “wow, finally I’ve found something that does not work in Dubai”. Turned out to be false, the Dude thought the machine was a hand dryer, meanwhile it was a tissue roller and yes, it had enough supply of tissues in it. Everything in Dubai works. From the Gym equipments at the Hotel, to the metro Buses, the cars, elevators, trolleys at the malls, I never found one single thing in a state of disrepair.
4. Expensive (by Nigerian Standards)
So roughly, 1 UAE Dirhams equals 100 Nigerian Naira. This simply means that the average meal which costs about 50-100 dirhams is N5,000 – N10,000 when converted to the Naira. Egbami, that’s how I was spending this much on Lunch and Dinner for 5 days. Thank God for the complimentary breakfast buffet at the Hotel where we lodged. While Dubai may not be outrightly expensive, for someone who earns his monthly wage in Naira, spending in Dirhams could give you a headache. However, there are some items which are cheaper in Dubai. Laptops, Electronics, Gadgets and the likes seems to be cheaper in Dubai. On the other hand, Taxis, food and drinks are more expensive there.
For a religious country, Dubai exhibits a high level of tolerance. Some people will argue that as a tourist destination, they have no option than to be receptive. While this may hold through, one cannot underestimate the kind of efforts it would have taken to instill this tolerance into the minds of the citizenry. Regardless of what you wear, no one will look at you with judgemental eyes. Once or twice I even caught some women starring at me from behind their hijabs with a glint of admiration. I remember wearing my really brief shorts to IMG World and compared to Nigeria, I totally felt comfortable. There were no eyes judging me, no fingers pointing as if they had seen a ghost, and no elderly woman coming to give me that “my son bla bla bla” speech. This same tolerance applied to the Babes who practically wore whatever they liked. I saw one white girl at Emirates Mall wearing a bum-short which left her butt-cheeks open to the admiration of everyone. Nigeria is a secular country o, but dem no born am well to wear that kain thing for ICM.
6. Everyone seemed happy:
The Cab driver that picked us up at the Airport was such a hyper-happy individual. He kept sending and receiving whatsapp voice notes with so much enthusiasm that I wished I could hear what he and the other person were saying. Going forward, everyone we had contact with, either seemed happy or at least contented. There were no disgruntled looks on people’s faces. At the market, everyone was happy and receptive. When you visit stores and restaurants, they appeared genuinely excited to see you. Trust me, it wasn’t some form of artificial excitement. I’ve seen enough of that in Restaurants on Victoria Island, Lagos that I can spot it with my eyes closed. But why won’t they be happy when there is constant power, stable water, a decent wage and prompt payment of salaries?
In fact the only person that frowned throughout our Dubai trip was a Nigerian Cab Driver. Why did this Dude get annoyed? Because we told him “No salik” meaning “avoid toll gates as much as possible. Toll gates attract about 4 dirhams per gate, so it can significantly impact the cost of your Taxi if you don’t tell
Them to avoid it. Bottom line Uncle Wale the cab driver made sure he passed the longest possible route, that afterwards when we were comparing costs, we paid more than those who were carried by Arab cabbies who also avoided toll gates.
7. Sense of Responsibility:
During our visit to Atlantis the Palm, we went to this Cold Stone outlet close to one of the entrances. The Guy gave me an empty cup of ice cream, took me a few meters away and told me to catch the ice cream he was gonna throw at me. I mean, this Guy was about to throw a sizable portion of ice cream at me, the chances of me catching it was 30%. Won’t they sack him if it hits the floor?
I began to see that there was mutual trust between employers and employees and that the employers not only expected a high sense of responsibility from their staff, but the staff also delivered on this mandate. There were many scenarios were attendants at stores, restaurants etc gave discretionary discounts, extra food etc that was obviously not part of a rigid set of rules. It was unlike Nigeria where you can barely breath without first seeking the permission of a superior.
Oh, I bet you’d be wondering what happened to the Ice cream he threw? Well I didn’t catch it dear. It landed right on my lips and an hour later, I realized I had a slight bruise there. The bruise wasn’t as painful as the booing I received from my friends who watched me fail. *Drops a tear*
8. No Traffic:
I don’t want to believe there are places in the world where there are no traffic. So i won’t say there is no traffic in Dubai. I’d rather say during my stay in Dubai, I didn’t experience traffic and when I did, it only lasted a few minutes. It was nothing like Ikorodu Road traffic or Lagos Island traffic or Third Mainland Bridge traffic. Why would they even have traffic when their urban railway system was functional, the metro bus system performs optimally and the road network was superb.
9. No pot-holes:
The closest thing to potholes that we witnessed during the Dubai Visit was the bumpy ride in the desert when we went for the desert Safari. Asides from that, there were no single pot-holes. In fact, the roads were shinny and beautiful. One would have thought the Cabs we took were gliding across the roads.
Chale, Dubai is absolutely beautiful. The skyline is a beauty to behold at night. One of the best feelings in the world is sitting in a car at night and watch it zoom past these colorfully lit Skyscrapers on both sides of the road. Everything in Dubai was meant to be beautiful. The buildings, the roads, the cars, the malls, the people, even the food. And lest I forget, the first time I saw a Tesla in real life was in Dubai. Dubai also afforded me the opportunity to touch and take a picture with a Ferrari. Oh my days!