UAE Alumni: Dubai will always be a part of us, says former resident

Fabiha Khalid, an Indian expat, lived in the city for four-and-a-half years

By Karishma Nandkeolyar

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Published: Wed 24 Jan 2024, 6:56 PM

“Leaving Dubai was one of the hardest decisions my family had to take but I feel it’s now a part of us,” says Fabiha Khalid, an Indian expat who lived in the city for four-and-a-half years.

The family of four – Khalid has two sons, aged nine and five – came here from the US in 2019. They returned in June 2023.

“Even though we lived in Dubai for a relatively short period, there is such a strong bond with it, it felt like home. Whether it was the sun throughout the year, the warmth of the people, the delectable cuisines from all over the world or stretches of gorgeous pristine beaches along the most luxe resorts, Dubai sets a bar which cannot be matched,” she says.

The teacher adds: “It’s not just the fun side which is exquisite, but also the schools, extra-curricular activities for children, the sporting facilities are par excellence.” From football clubs that children can join in the afternoons to painting classes and more, Dubai is teeming with ways to engage and excite young minds.

And it’s not just young minds that are kept engaged. The city has expat friendly policies that give one the opportunity to make their own Dubai dream come true. “With all kinds of businesses opening their offices in Dubai and the plethora of opportunities to start your own entrepreneurial journey makes it a haven for families,”Khalid explains.

Khalid recalls being in Dubai during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the world came to a standstill – flights were grounded, people were sequestered in their homes and each day harrowing numbers of infections were declared on public platforms.

“Soon after we moved to Dubai, Covid happened and the world was nothing like we had imagined it (still can’t believe we lived through it). While the governments of the world were trying to shut down regular activities, while “figuring this whole thing out”, Dubai government took some extremely bold steps which included reopening businesses and schools with strict protocols in place (social distancing, mandatory masking along with sanitizer dispensers for access to sanitisers everywhere.) At that time, it was the only city that was functioning pretty much normally,” she recalls.

“As we look back, I feel Dubai was like a “Noah’s arc” where everyone else was in a deluge of Covid, Dubai was the place to be. While the children in other countries suffered immensely due to closure of schools, had social anxiety, speech delays and behavioural disorders because of excessive screen time, children here able to have a normal childhood, meet friends, play at the playgrounds, go about their regular childhood routines. Where children from all over the world reported falling behind in their learning, Dubai children were on track,” she adds.

The event had a major impact on her family, she says. ”One can only applaud the responsiveness in decision making of the law making authority in Dubai. They’re prompt, responsive to change not only of economic winds but also demographics and climate too.”

The mum-of-two recalls fondly how safe Dubai is. (It’s been voted one of the safest cities in the world). “We’ve lived in a lot of countries and the safety/security one feels here is absolutely unparalleled. We could be out until however late and not bat an eyelid about a “Cinderella Hour”. The children can be out playing without needing any baby sitting, we knew they’ll be safe and back home when they’re done playing.

“Talking of safety and children, Dubai makes childcare so affordable and safe that women especially can focus on their careers without having to worry about their security of their children,” she adds.

The city is very, very family friendly, she believes. “We were blessed to have amazing nannies for our children, something, which would be unimaginable here in the US. This also helped my husband and I to maintain a great relationship, we could go on date nights knowing the kids are safe and taken care of. We were also able to have a social life and build some amazing adult friendships. These friendships I hold very close to my heart.”

When the family left last year, they did so with heavy hearts. She says: “Leaving Dubai was one of the hardest decisions my family had to take but I feel it’s now a part of us, the way we conduct ourselves, our food choices, Dubai is a part of us and we cannot wait to come back.”

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