Dubai - Indians form the biggest expatriate population in the UAE and both the countries have a history of strategic ties.
With over 2.4 million Indians in the UAE, it is quite possible that you have a 'desi' friend and are in love with Indian food. The city might be full of restaurants offering Indian food, but always trust the recommendations by your Indian friends.
A flight back home is hardly three hours away and Dubai is home to many chasing the mullah and a better lifestyle. Indians form the biggest expatriate population in the UAE and both the countries have a history of strategic ties. Making up for about 30 percent of the population, Indians are mostly based in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah.
Indians started moving to the UAE since the oil boom in the 1970s and have gone to occupy top white-collar positions in the multi-national companies here. Feroz Khan, a chartered accountant by profession, remembers coming to Dubai in December 2001 and finding it 'ordinary' like Mumbai. "Dubai became extraordinary only after the real estate boom, especially post-2006 when the law allowed foreigners to own properties here. Ever since the destination has continued to excite the expats."
He continues, "You can enjoy your life in Dubai if you have a good job. You can get a car, apply for a license, and explore the region. With strict traffic rules and discipline, there is less congestion on the roads. It is difficult to lead such a comfortable life in India (with the salaries one would earn back home)." Although he came with the intent to live here for two or three years, he has been around for 16 years and even bought a few properties. Dubai for him is for the long haul. Today, a father of two, he feels that there couldn't have been a better country than this for him to raise his boys.
While Khan's move was planned, Kausar Syed, a senior sales professional, ended up in Dubai after an unplanned job interview. "I came for a vacation to Dubai and gave an interview with a publishing house. I was lucky as within three days I had a job offer in hand." Surrounded by her bunch of family and friends, Kausar considers the city family-oriented and doesn't feel homesick. She has been here for nine years now. "The Indian community is close-knit and you meet people, who are keen to know you and develop a friendship with you. Today, many of my clients are my friends." During her stay here, she has seen all the major attractions come to life - Burj Khalifa, Dubai Metro, IMG Worlds of Adventure, the many shopping malls, Dubai Water Canal, and Global Village Dubai- she cannot stop gushing over what Dubai offers.
Originally from Mumbai, she feels safe here. "I have never had nights out in my home country, but Dubai is a place you can wake up at two am and go for a drive. In case, your car breaks down and you need help - Dubai Police is always around. I just love the city."
Few, like Sanjay Abraham, plan to return to India every year, but stay back. With his two children, he always ends up staying for 'one more year' in the UAE. He has seen Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) transform after the Free Trade Zone was set up and more companies sprung up. "Life is laid back and there is a sense of community in RAK, as compared to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Once you come to the UAE, it is difficult to go back." Sanjay completes his 19th year in the city.
For sure, they miss their families and the authentic flavour of Indian food, but UAE is their home now. Ask Kausar if Dubai is a stopover for her and she replies instantly, "It is not a stopover, but a place that stops you from going to any other country."
Stopover @ India to Experience Beauty and DiversityAssam, the largest tea-producing region in the country, calls for a stopover at its many beautiful tea plantations.
Red Fort was built as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad - the new capital of the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is a historical fort in Delhi.
Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum in Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Udaipur is set around a series of artificial lakes and is known for its royal palaces. City Palace, overlooking Lake Pichola, is a monumental complex of 11 palaces, courtyards, and gardens.
India Gate in New Delhi commemorates the members of the erstwhile British Indian Army, who sacrificed their lives fighting for the Indian Empire in the Afghan Wars and World War. It is counted among the largest war memorials in India.
A stay in a houseboat on the backwaters (chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast) of Kerala will be your ticket to explore the best of nature.
Indo-UAE TiesThe trade figures between India and the UAE today stand at around $60 billion and it got further impetus with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan's visit to India on Republic Day this year. Navdeep Singh Suri, India's ambassador to the UAE says, "Indo-UAE relationship is passing through the golden era of friendship and cooperation in various fields, both economically and culturally. Three successful high level official visits within a span of a few months and the continuing official and trade delegation visits have further strengthened the bond. The personal friendship of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan further provides a strong platform for our bilateral relations in trade security and cultural areas. ISRO launching Nayif-1 - UAE's first nanosatellite is just one example from the recent times."
Cricket is ReligionCricket to Indians is not just a game; it is a bona fide religion. Cricketers are treated like gods and the Indian team winning a match is no less than a festival. Although, it is not the national game of the country, the craze for the game among Indians is unmatchable. Emotions are heightened when the match is with the team across the border, Pakistan. All friends and foe come together to cheer Team India. While they might not agree on many things, talking about the best cricketers and the most memorable cricket matches can unite them. In a country with mixed caste and creed, cricket is a unifier. Right from the moment a child learns to walk, he is also taught how to hit the ball. There isn't any age limit for playing the sport and you may see an old man chasing a century too. It is a common sight to see groups of boys playing cricket in every lane in India. And it's not just live matches (on telly) that the Indians watch - any old match and its highlights are good as well.
Let's Talk DiversityBeing one of the ancient civilisations, India is home to different cultures. The languages, foods, customs, music, and dance forms change every few kilometers. The country has 22 official languages, with more than 100 dialects. It is also a land of festivals like Diwali, Holi, Christmas, Eid and countless regional ones. Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Bhangra, and Kuchipudi are just a few of the Indian dance forms known globally. The Indian classical music is broadly divided into two parts - Carnatic and Hindustani Music, but there are innumerable folk forms and genres as well. 'Unity in Diversity' might be the most clichéd statement used to describe India, but it is this diversity that truly binds them.
The Bollywood ConnectionFor the global audience, India is synonymous with the term Bollywood. The informal name for the Hindi film industry, Bollywood has the tag of producing the largest number of films in a year. With a skyline boosting of tall skyscrapers, golden deserts, and a developed city, UAE has been a go-to destination for filmmakers in India to shoot their films extensively. Shorter flight times, rebates on production costs, and exotic locations make the Emirates a perfect location for filming. Happy New Year, Dabanng, Welcome Back, Bang Bang, Dishoom, Baby, and Airlift, are the names of some of the big-ticket movies shot in the UAE in the recent times.
Bollywood stars have UAE in their travel list and keep flying for promoting their films and are part of local campaigns too. Around the city, Bollywood stars can be seen occupying the hoardings endorsing jewellery brands, fashion apparels, real-estate projects, and more. Shah Rukh Khan has gone on record many times calling Dubai his second home. He was part of the big ticket #BeMyGuest campaign, personally inviting tourists to visit Dubai. It is known that he, along with his wife Gauri Khan, owns a villa in Palm Jumeirah. Power couple Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan also own a villa in Dubai and keep hopping to the city often.
Apart from shooting their films in the locales of UAE, Bollywood filmmakers have also premiered their films here. RA.One, Jai Ho, Gunday, Happy New Year, Welcome Back, and Befikre were some of the films that were exclusively premiered in the UAE.