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Dubai Diaries: Why Dubai and I are so alike

Saveena David/Dubai
Filed on May 27, 2021
Photo/AFP

A City Times reader shares her love for the city.

I have always felt that Dubai and I have shared similar fates. I vividly recall landing here a few decades ago as a little girl sporting a middle-parting in my hair and braids, reeking of coconut oil and innocence. The mighty Sheikh Zayed Road, covered in sand and gravel, was yet to be discovered. Behind the nerdy exterior and oiled pigtails was a woman waiting to be discovered.

We all dig a good turnaround story, don’t we?! The early 2000s brought with it a dramatic transformation. The high-rises in Dubai mushroomed, competing to reach the clouds. The little one now graduated from a girls’ school to a co-educational college and stumbled upon a whole other section of homosapiens called boys.

This heralded an era marked by relentless cardio, squats, body-waxing and an entire array of cosmetics and shorter skirts, to her parents’ dismay. Now one can rightfully imagine, that brought about a sudden flurry of attention not experienced before quite like the construction boom of 2007 when everyone wanted a slice of the pie called Dubai. The city had by then established itself as the hottest capital of the Middle East.

But just about when your trajectory seems to be going upwards, life has a cruel yet funny way of humbling in unexpected ways. The year 2012, much like Nostradamus’s predictions, was apocalyptic for me. A sudden loss of loved ones in the family and a short-lived marriage followed by a long-protracted divorce dealt my confidence a severe blow.

The little girl was now forced to grow up. Dubai had also just about then been hit with a bout of recession. If that weren’t enough, a few years later came the pandemic stopping the whole world in its tracks. But what’s a story without a comeback?! Both Dubai and I, in due course of time, rode the waves, braved the storms, learned our lessons and emerged wiser and resilient.

We learned to turn ashes into a thing of beauty. Dubai has since been making waves with its economic bounce-back marked by an influx of foreign currency investment, a property market boost and the Expo being the cherry on the cake. UAE’s coronavirus response has been an inspiring story to many nations while its vaccination rates are one of the highest in the world.

The girl with the pigtails also seems to have gotten back on her feet gracefully, forging a successful career for herself and cruising her way into a committed relationship that feels just right. She now embraces life with renewed gusto. Hope is reborn. With all that wisdom gained at a tender age of 36, I can rightfully claim that Dubai and I have mastered the game, popularly known as ‘Snakes and Ladders’.

Though she’s lived in Dubai for about 30 years, CT reader Saveena David is quite proud of her roots in Kerala, India. Needless to say, her answer to every skin and hair issue is coconut oil and her favourite chocolate will always be Bounty.





 
 
 
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