Why Dubai Will Never Be More Than A Transit Stop For Me.

International airport travel

I have given Dubai multiple chances over the many years I have been travelling the world, but the truth is I hate the destination and don’t want to return any time soon.

I love travelling the world and seeing and experiencing new places, new cultures. It is my passion, my reason for living. I seem to fall in love with every new place I visit; the sights, sounds and smells, the food, the people, the culture, I love it all and relish every single second of it.

Yet despite all this, despite an almost rose tinted view of the world through a backpackers eyes, and despite a willingness to be open and find the best in each place I visit, there are some places I simply can’t gel with at all. There are a few places which just leave me feeling cold and empty, and despite having been numerous times this popular travel hub is one of them.

I’m Going To Say It, I Hate Dubai.

There, I said it. I’m hardly the first to do so and I seriously doubt I will be the last either. It isn’t Dubai’s fault of course, it hasn’t done anything in particular to offend or irritate me, it just is what it is, and that is something that I just can’t seem to gel with. I even get that a lot of people will disagree with me on this and say they absolutely love Dubai, and that is absolutely fine too. To each their own. Dubai is just a place that I cannot personally stand.

It is’t the politics at all. Unlike many people who criticise Dubai, it isn’t that I disagree on an ideological level with many of Dubai’s cultural, political and legal paradigms, some of which I do, by the way, but I have travelled through many countries where I hated or disagreed with the political or legal regimes but still absolutely loved the country and its people and other aspects of its culture. I have never agreed with avoiding a country for its politics (if I did that I would probably never return home) and I fervently believe that exposing yourself to new belief systems, new cultures, new paradigms and ways of thinking, even ones that inherently challenge your own beliefs, is one of the best gifts of travelling. I just can’t say that about Dubai.

The reasons I hate Dubai isn’t the frankly insane legal system where to any outside observer it seems like they make laws up as they go on a mad mans whim, or the mountains of bureaucracy and mindless form filling they hide those laws behind. I don’t agree with a lot of the laws on a personal level, but it isn’t for me as a traveller to judge a countries legal system. Hell, there are aspects of the UK’s legal system that I think have been written by a drunken sociopath as a practical joke, it doesn’t mean I don’t love my own country!

It isn’t even really the vast wealth of the country that makes me unable to gel with Dubai as a destination, although to be honest it is one of the major factors. Dubai is the Mecca of all things extravagant and wealthy. The home of those who have hit it rich with fossil fuels and oil, investment bankers and hedge fund investors dancing in the free trade zone playground, people with made up job titles who play with pretend money on the stock market, who use vast wealth to create even more vast wealth for the sheer sake of it and then watch it all burn for shits and giggles. Just like the ideology behind it the country itself is just as crass and garish and I have to admit I find that a bit of a turn off.

But isn’t just the sheer unadulterated brashness of Dubai, the sheer unrivalled financial and physical growth, the unbridled and pointless lavishness and displays of obscene wealth wasted on trivialities like the tallest buildings, the biggest fireworks displays, the biggest and best of everything, not out of a display of national pride or to push the boundaries of engineering or architecture, but simply to show off their wealth. It is the gaudiness of that is just distasteful to me. The glittering Dubai skyline doesn’t look beautiful, it looks grotesque. Like Eric’s mask in the Phantom of the Opera, Dubai’s wealth is a thinly veiled and delicate masquerade that must eventually shatter to show the hideous, twisted carcass underneath.

So If It Isn’t All Of That, What Is It?

Abu Dhabi Shopping Mall

The real reason that I hate Dubai is that it has no soul. Or more fairly, it has sold its soul in one of the glitzy malls.

The entire cultural paradigm is seemingly money, money, money, with nothing underneath to give that wealth substance or meaning. The whole country is seemingly a panegyric ode to consumerist greed. Instead of celebrating and growing their own culture the entire focus is seemingly bent on just being bigger, better and wealthier than everyone else and making sure that everyone knows it. The biggest malls, the glitziest events, the loudest and most expensive firework, the most amount of gold or precious jewels used in a single toilet seat. Okay, that one may have been made up, but you get the point.

I’ve tried my best, I really have. I’ve spent hours in the Dubai museum trying to soak up the history, I’ve wandered around the labyrinthine streets of Bastakiya, one of the very few heritage areas in the country, but it still felt as if Dubai was trying to force the gentrified ‘tourist experience’ on me instead of letting me get a peek at her real face. It felt like it preferred me to walk around the false pretentiousness of the Madinat Jumeria, an actual mock Arabian city set up for tourists, instead of seeing anything real.

Having the tallest buildings or the biggest and best of whatever it may be isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, almost every other major country and city in the world has – or at least wants to – do the same, and the glitz and glamour isn’t always bad. But at least most other city’s have something about them. with Dubai it is all style over substance. A gaudy peacock display with nothing to back it up.

Instead of celebrating what is good about Dubai’s culture (and despite my negativity in this post there is some good hidden there somewhere) they won’t let you focus on anything but the bad. Dubai is all about being the world’s favourite destination, to be the go to destination that pleases everyone and offends noone, and I actually do like that lofty goal, but the big problem is for travellers it is almost impossible to get past that peacock display to anything meaningful.

Forget the fact that Dubai is a model of stability for the Middle East, forget that there really is a culture hidden under the glitz somewhere, and forget any of the other actual good points about Dubai’s culture, because all you get with Dubai is glamour and extravagance shoved into your face the second you land. With the Sheikh’s ambition to make Dubai a global destination loved by all, it really feels like you cannot get past all that to get a taste of who or what Dubai really is.

It is the equivalent of comparing Dubai to those vacuous airhead reality TV shows, where the plastic women are made up of 90% silicone and care about nothing but the latest fashion, the latest scandal and who said what to who! It is the national personification of turning Dubai into Jordan, (the Z list ‘celeb’, not the country)! Even the thought leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And that is a huge shame.

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that some people really do just want  a little bit of self indulgent consumerist luxury, a holiday where they can just shop in glitzy malls and pamper themselves with spa treatments or have the occasional adventure (for adventure, read highly organised package tour excursion with camels or dune buggies into the desert). If that is what they want then hey, who am I to judge? Whatever makes you happy. Dubai will more than meet your needs. But personally I want much, much more than that from a destination, none of which as of yet I have been able to get from Dubai, and that is why Dubai – for the moment – will remain a simple, convenient transport hub for me, and nothing more.

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right

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Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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Posted in Destinations
92 comments on “Why Dubai Will Never Be More Than A Transit Stop For Me.
  1. banditsandy says:

    I’ve never been to Dubai but the impressions I got from watching travel magazines and documentarys von TV is very much the same as you describe your experiences. And, as a woman, it goes without saying as how much I agree e.g. on the laws that keep women from driving a car.

    • Yeah that is pretty much the same impression they try and force feed you with when you are there, the sterilised faux culture glitz and glamour.

    • Kjersti says:

      I agree on a lot of what is being said in this article, but to be fair women can and do drive cars in Dubai 🙂

      • They do, and they are increasingly taking higher job positions, going to higher education and foregoing the veil too, but there is still a lot of ingrained culture and social attitudes in Dubai that the home and family are the responsibility and domain of women. That is slow to change.

      • RahilA says:

        I do understand and agree with alot you are saying, though, i must say as Kjersti has said, women are allowed to drive and do drive in dubai, i would like to know if you have been to any of the other emirates? i personally am an avid lover of animals and want to know what you think about that, basically how they treat their animals, and to describe Dubai, you have done it beautifully, in a sense that i couldnt quite find the word to describe Dubai, and ‘soulless’ quite did it for me. I do however believe that there are many hidden gem Arabs somewhere whom believe that they prefer living elsewhere rather then dubai because they too feel that Dubai has lost its soul. Another point i would like to add is that this notion of young women marrying elder men in Dubai has changed quite alot in recent years seeing that more and more Arab women living there or from there, have taken the path to further their education and study much further and become independent, thus breaking away from their norms. they too work and earn their own money and live better lives i would say, further away from home… thank you for this post although i stumbled upon it quite late

      • Yes I have RahilA I’ve travelled to quite a few places in the UAE and surrounding countries. You don’t have to go far to find some culture again and get away from the vegas style soullessness of Dubai. I have written a lot on wildlife tourism and conservation, just type wildlife into the search bar and you’ll find a lot there. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  2. Hear hear! We just couldn’t connect with it and it really was not our cup of tea.

  3. Sha says:

    But you know, I have read people saying that singapore too has no soul and that it is all about the malls. Would you say the same?

    • I’ve heard that too but in Singapore’s case I’d completely disagree. In a lot of ways Singapore has a lot in common with Dubai in terms of the wealth, the glitz and glamour, but Singapore is fundamentally different, it HAS a soul underneath. Singapore HAS the substance underneath all that style. Singapore is a broad mix of cultures that are there for people to engage with. and it doesn’t hide it, it is there in plain sight alongside the glitz and the skyscrapers and malls. Most people just don’t take the time to see it. Dubai (in my experience at least) won’t even let you see any culture underneath even if you try and take the time to get to know it beyond the quick stopover facade, it is too busy force feeding you the faux glitz, as if the entire city was just built in order to please international tourists (which most of it has been with the Sheiks determination to please the western world). Unlike Singapore, it is style without any real substance (or at least any that they will allow you to see).

      • Sha says:

        Awesome!! I have nothing against them but it’s just that I’ve never thought of singapore that way until I started reading what others thought so it just made me try to think it through..but interesting thoughts..thanks! …:)

      • I never felt that way either, in fact Singapore is my favourite city (as you may have guessed from previous posts), I just couldn’t gel with Dubai at all.

      • Sha says:

        Haha…yes, I’m sure we all have one place that is among our favourites. Mine happens to be korea…:)

        I don’t think I would have enjoyed Dubai either…it’s more to do with being a female there…but then I haven’t really been there so I should at least give it a try once before I say no..one day…maybe…haha…:)

      • Julie says:

        i agree, dubai is one of the most artificial cities in the world. From indoor skiing to man-made islands – shaped like the palm trees and the globe, the city. but still it is world’s 7th most visited city..

      • Absolutely, in no way have I ever said it isn’t popular, or that lots of people don’t visit Dubai, I’m just saying that it isn’t for me.

      • Tarc says:

        If I might add something… Singapore is still a city that has been slowly built to what it is today. There are generations of families there that have formed a unique place that now carries a lot of wealth and glamour–and that is a part of what they are and that is fine. The soul is still there and I’d quite rich. Dubai has no soul basically because it doesn’t really have it’s own people. What you see are people from elsewhere either using it as an airport or working for a year or two, or visiting for a week or two. You won’t look around and see families whose parents and cousins and grandparents live there. Even Vegas has some of that, it shares with Dubai that people live there for glamour or work or vacation more than for settling or because that’s where they come from. Still Vegas seems a lot more grounded than Dubai. See how the population of Dubai is composed and you ll see what I mean. It doesn’t have a soul because it is but a wealthy constructed stage for activity more than a city that has been molded by family units (of any type) little by little, be it local or foreign. It is not it is inherently evil, it is just that spot in the world that has been constructed in a whin, a Disneyland of sorts that is interesting because it gathers for a little while thousands of individuals extracted from their homes, their communities and histories just for a little while to be able to experience the mam made magic for a while. It’s not bad to have a place in the world without what we could define the soul of a city, but if there’s one such city, I think it is Dubai.

      • That is very true Tarc, and thank you for the thoughtful comment. I certainly agree Dubai has been built up on nothing more than wealth as a playground of sorts for the wealthy. As I say, there is no inherent culture in that.

  4. abetterme says:

    I tend to agree with this post as far as Dubai having no soul, but I don’t hate Dubai. I am a female expat in Kuwait, and we “use” Dubai as a weekend getaway to let loose and have a few alcoholic beverages. We definitely don’t visit for the cultural experience. Just reading comments on this post, and as a woman I’ve never had an issue in Dubai. Haha, and I have definitely worn a fair share of showy outfits in that city.

  5. globalmouse says:

    Thought provoking post!! I haven’t been to Dubai but I would like to go….just because I want to go everywhere! I get the impression it’s soul-less but I have to believe there’s something…somewhere….but maybe I’m wrong?! Or maybe it’s just getting out of Dubai and finding in within the UAE that the culture will exist?

    • Thanks! I would certainly never say to anyone don’t go based on my experience. Everyone should experience it for themselves and make up their own minds. Many people go to Dubai and enjoy it for the exact same reasons I don’t like it, they love the endless shops, the glitzy malls, the ostentatious ultra luxury and the forced, faux culture. Each to their own. I do know however that I have travelled elsewhere in the UAE and throughout the Middle East and had an amazing time interacting with fascinating people and cultures. I just could not – no mater how hard I tried – replicate that in Dubai. Dubai to me is an empty shell, the Vegas of the UAE with much more wealth and glamour. And that wasn’t for me.

      Thanks for leaving a comment. 🙂

    • jonah says:

      It’s a very interesting Post.

  6. mytanfeet says:

    I haven’t been but what I’ve heard from other people, seems like this is a common sentiment. I’m sure it’s a nice place for vacation if you got lots of $$ to spare and all that but there’s no much beyond that. I think I’d like to visit just to see what it’s like but it doesn’t strike me as a place I’d fall in love with or want to visit more than once either. But I guess I’ll never know until I get there!

  7. We have yet to visit in Dubai, I am intrigued by the city just to learn the culture but after reading your article i will probably have the same thoughts. Kinda sad that cities have that effect on people.

    • That’s just it Heather I don’t hate cities, far from it. I loved Singapore, Bangkok, Cairo and many other cities I have visited. I loved them all for different reasons. Dubai is just a place I couldn’t connect with. I guess we can’t like everywhere.

  8. I’ve never been to Dubai, and although I wouldn’t mind visiting it, it’s not a destination I dream about or think about much. I hate shopping, anyway. And malls make me nervous. How are the beaches there?

    • About as much as you’d expect from Dubai Frank, false, overly commercialized and mostly attached to luxury resorts. I’m guessing you may not like the mega malls of Dubai either then! ;D Thanks for the comment.

  9. Amber Ray says:

    Like a lot of others said, I haven’t been to Dubai, but I’ve always got the same feeling. If I was after some glamorous vacation, I guess it might be kind of awesome. But like you, I want to feel a place, really experience what makes it tick, the culture behind it. I’ve just always got a bit of a dried up and empty feeling from seeing all of those ridiculous skyscrapers and whatever else. But I mean, I guess it’s something to see, anyway. There are a lot of other places that definitely come before Dubai on my travel wish list…

  10. Bob R says:

    I have zero desire to go. I’ve been to Doha a handful of times –going again in a few day– which by most indications is smaller version of Dubai. Soulless was the obvious and most apt descriptor.

  11. We have always discussed the idea of going to Dubai and then dismissed it again. Maybe its the idea of spending hours traipsing through malls which we know we will hate (neither of us like shopping so it would be our idea of a nightmare) that puts us off or maybe its the constant confusion the press battle with regarding the laws of the country. I am not sure I want to go to a country that enforces laws as and when they see fit, placing people in jail for what in many other countries would be seen as a way of life, I would be nervous in case I did something wrong and trust me I am no extrovert and rarely drink but I know I would still have this constant need to look over my shoulder. If we went I think it would be a stop off destination attached to somewhere else for a day or two rather than a holiday location on its own.

    • I know what you mean, I’m a huge proponent of following the laws and customs of any given country you are travelling to, but Dubai seems to have the single most oxymoronically ridiculous approach in being seemingly set up for serving tourists on one hand but being ultra strict on the other. I find Dubai great as a comfortable destination for a short layover for somewhere else, but I wouldn’t stay there any longer than that any more. Thanks for the comment.

  12. I have been to Dubai and your post didn’t surprise because I felt the same way when I visited Dubai. In my 8 days there I searched everywhere for a taste of the real and true cultural routes of the people of Dubai or UAE in general and with each corned I went I was presented with the ‘biggest and best’ thing in the world. I went to the Madinat and as beautiful as it is, it felt contrived and just plain fake. They have definitely sold themselves out. Even in the shops you dont see anyone from Dubai working other than airport of government buildings, most file too uppity to work in ‘normal’ jobs.

  13. Christina says:

    Interesting article. I like it you´re so honest. I can´t tell you if I like Dubai or not. I haven´t been there. I only took a picture at night from an airlpline while flying to Muscat. Maybe I will find it out one day if I like Dubai or not. I will let you know. 😉

  14. brmsimmons says:

    Every destination isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok.

  15. Candice says:

    Most of the critical comments I read about Dubai are from people who have never been and I respect the fact that you’ve actually been and don’t like it. I lived there for five years and I love it. To begin with I found the brash ‘biggest, tallest, longest’ ethos irritating but I grew to love the confidence and the can-do attitude. Taking a scenic flight over the city really did leave me with a sense of awe over what has been achieved in this little corner of desert in such a remarkably short time.

    I love the desert and I loved the fact I would see the desert from my apartment window but also the world’s tallest building. I could walk to excellent restaurants or take a short drive to ride off-road on my mountain bike and see camels and gazelles in the desert. I would walk my dog along the beach at sunset to the sound of the call to prayer from half a dozen different mosques, stopping in the shadow of the Burj al Arab to watching the kite surfers and kayakers. I could wander the tradtional souqs (see my blog post on this), chatting with Omani traders and Iranian and Pakistani shopkeepers before heading out on the waters of Dubai Creek on a traditional small wooden boat and watching the cargo dhows being loaded as they have for generations.

    I walked the streets any time of day or night knowing I was safe (I’m a woman), not something I do anywhere else except Singapore. Street crime is virtually non-existent.

    There are so many misconceptions about Dubai/UAE, it’s not like Saudi Arabia. Women can and do work and have high powered jobs. What most people don’t realise, however, is that as a visitor it’s very, very likely that the only Emirati you will talk to is the person who stamps your passport at immigration. Emiratis make up only 10% of the population. There is are thriving and vibrant Asian populations from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka as well as many people from other Arab countries, Westerners and Africans.

    My favourite thing about Dubai is the diversity, I loved that I would speak to people from half a dozen different countries every day. I spent most of my life in London and lived a lot in diverse areas but it wasn’t quite the same.

    I understand that Dubai is not for everybody, it’s just a shame so many people base their opinions on misinformation. Thank you for basing yours on experience.

    • Thanks for the comment Candice, I totally accept your point about people judging before they go there. I have travelled extensively throughout the middle east and the united arab emirates and enjoyed the majority of it. It’s just personally those things that you grew to love about Dubai – the arrogant and brash biggest, tallest, longest ethos – just turned me off more and more about it.

      I totally accept many people – yourself included – will love Dubai, but I personally have never been able to gel with it despite trying. Not everyone will like everywhere though. Thanks for your comment showing the other side of the fence. 🙂

  16. Nahla says:

    Couldnt agree more, firstly spent a weekend in Dubai when visiting elsewhere, seemed ok. But following a 2 week holiday visiting family (expats) Im of the same mind as you.
    Along with everything youve said, what I found most uncomfortable is alot of people living in Dubai adopt this “look at me” attitude. Whos the most glam, who looks like theyve got money, who is ‘somebody’. Its not fun.

  17. joey says:

    Totally agree with you, it’s a soul-less, confused, extravagant, decadent, attention seeking, look at me me me, kind of place I hope I never go to again.

  18. nickylu24 says:

    It sounds like you’ve been exploring the worst parts of Dubai. We live in Dubai and completely avoid the glitz and glam and the man made attractions. We surf when there’s swell, go fishing, boat out to the islands and camp, take a surfboard and tow behind the boat, off road into the desert or to a wadi or to the beach and camp. Camping here is spectacular, the dunes absorb all the sound so all you can hear is the fire crackling and the guitar strumming. We always run into locals walking their camels. The wild life is cool. I especially love flamingos and turtles! Hey are much more impressive than the burn Khalifa. Renting a boat or 4WD is not badly priced if you’re a tourist.

    • I’m a huge fan of desert camping Nicky, in fact I have done extended treks/camps in the Sahara, the Thar and many others. But the many ‘tourist trap excursions’ such as renting a 4WD in Dubai aren’t going to convince me that it is anything more than a soulless entity.

  19. Jamal says:

    Dubai sucks. Period.

  20. Anna says:

    Just got back from there and I hated it… it’s a backwater hole full of money and artificial sterile things to see and do, I also felt disgusted at the huge amount of British expats there living in a bubble, I can’t cope with the racism and the segregation there either (if you’re a white brit you won’t notice it) no wonder some of you love it, but I am not that kind of person!

  21. SC says:

    I will be even more blunt than you. I think Dubai is a s***hole. I will never visit it again for leisure or work. So much hype about this country that I want to puke!

  22. paringaux says:

    I have been dto Dubai several times, always on business. 25 years ago, this place was famous,locals were fantastic, took you to the desert on fridays and were always so much interested in making new contacts etc. Business then was easy, one visit = at least one recommendation for another visit, you could stay there for weeks. Expats were fantastic. Of course we all were there for the money, but once out of our offices, we used to have countless parties, drinks, meals, trips to the desert. Been back there a couple of weks ago. It stinks, no one talks to no one, it is all about the watch you wear and the car you drive. I have seldom seen so much indifference and arrogance. Raise and shine. Dubai made it and as you say, lost his soul. Is looking like a giant handbag shop, no interest, but for the owner and the fashionitas

  23. Angela says:

    Some of my aquaintances have been to Dubai, and my reaction to their holiday destination choice was always ‘Why?’. Why would you want to go there? It is an artificial ecological nightmare. I have nothing against glitz or tallest buildings, but Dubai seems like Disneyland and Las Vegas and New York and Chicago and Singapore and Hong Kong etc etc etc all rolled into one, created to become what it now is – no thank you!

    I am surprised that I am the first to mention the ecological sin that is Dubai – the sand for the Palm and the World is not from the deserts (too fine a sand…), but taken from the south seas in Indonesia etc etc, causing coastal changes there.
    The masses of sweet water needed to keep everything green alive is of itself for me a reason to avoid Dubai. Look where it got California ^^.

    Such a distribution of wealth for the tourists to leave their money in – a PR success story I would say ^^

    What about all the empty skyscrapers, is that still true? The bubble has not burst yet?.

    I don’t go to London or Paris or New York for the shopping, and am glad that I do not have to travel everywhere to get an impression of the place.

    I still have no idea whatsoever WHY anybody would want to go to Dubai for a HOLIDAY – as if there weren’t 1000 better places one can surf, camp on the beach or – go shopping, if that tickles your fancy.

    Just my two cents. If it was a wealthy place that shared its wealth with everyone living there, a kind of free and just Utopia made real with money – I would think about it. If they used solar energy and ecological desalination and brought the sand back to where it was ‘harvested’ (the gall to call it that!!!)…
    They could do it. If they wanted to. They clearly don’t. And I am just not that capitalistic a kind of gal to want to play their game. It all sounds and looks so Booooring!!! 🙂

    • Agreed except for one thing, I have been to New York, Chicago, Singapore and Hong Kong, and whilst all have the same glitz and glamour, they at least have a soul underneath that whereas Dubai has nothing I can see. Disneyland and Vegas are absolutely perfect examples though.

  24. Mae says:

    Yeah I grew up here for 5 years and I agree with all of this. I moved here in 8th grade now in 12th. I became very, very depressed during my time here and basically cried every single day. It was really hard growing up here but I am finally free of this place in a week, and am moving to the beautiful Vancouver Island where I hope to find happiness again.

  25. Tom W. says:

    I’ve never been to Dubai and I doubt I would ever go (though a view from the 162nd floor of the Burj would be quite something to experience). I read that the construction workers who build these high-rise live under absolutely sub-human conditions. People who move there hoping for a more prosperous life, get their passports taken from them as soon as they arrive and they have to earn them back if they ever hope to leave Dubai so much as to merely visit people back home (not unlike the human trafficking trend). Plus the horrible heat would be ridiculously oppressive.

  26. Sheetal says:

    hi. sorry for finding you so late … over a year late!
    just thought i’ll put in what’s on my mind.
    i was born in dubai and brought up there. we used to play on the sand dunes and knew almost everyone in the neighbourhood. the locals were nice, approachable and humane. this is seventies, uae was newly independent.
    i left dubai in the nineties and had witnessed its growth. went back after 10 years and got a shock – everything had changed. the arabs had (still do) their heads stuck in the sky. almost everyone is in a race to look most glamorous, own the best ( read, the most expensive), the flashiest thing. ask them about world affairs – you get a blank look. ask them about environment – what’s that? ask them about lack of freedom of expression – and you are hushed! one big misconception that people have is about safety and low crime in dubai. hello! just because it isn’t allowed to be reported doesn’t mean it never happens! for all the stuff that is banned by the emiratis, just go to edgware road in london and you’ll see them in their true hues. yes, london has problems. yes, mumbai has problems (current place of residence), but al least the people dont adopt a head in the sand attitude. for people crying racism in uk, try dubai and you’ll love uk.people in dubai honestly seem to live in a bubble.
    anyway, wishing peace and happiness to everyone.
    sorry for the lengthy post, someone misplaced my gag 😁

    • No worries Shetal, I’m glad you dropped by and there’s always time to catch up! I wish I could have been there during that time, as a traveller, an outsider, it feels to me like that authentic, traditional side of Dubai has gone forever. Which is a huge shame. Thanks so much for the comment, I hope you enjoy the rest of the site. 🙂

  27. Bob says:

    Lived there 5 years and made a lot of money but was so happy to leave. Could have stayed longer. Media restrictions don’t allow proper reporting on the rampant crime, corruption, major prostitution (trafficking of young girls from Russia, China etc.)) Have lived in 9 other countries and the UAE/Dubai was the worst. Have been offered opportunities to return but never will return there. Disgusting and phony city.

  28. Melanie. says:

    Yes, I hated Dubai too. The airport is okay for a brief stopover but I’ll never spend any more time there than I have to now. Horrible place.

  29. Dublaaah says:

    I am now an expat here in Dubai. Been living/working here for about 6 months and i CANNOT. I repeat, I CANNOT wait to get the hell out of here. I was fooled by this pretentious city when i had a 15hr layover from the US (i toured around within those time frame).

    A few weeks back a friend of mine visited the this country and I blatantly decribed her what Dubai is for me : “A gold plated jewelry. Scracth the surface and you get nothing”. I have always thought this place is soul-less and shallow even before ive read this article and i thank God i wasnt the only one!

  30. Dave says:

    It’s you who sucks not Dubai 🙂

  31. Capybara says:

    I’ve never been to Dubai, but I’ve been to Greece, where i’ve visited Athens and Naphlion. Athens is a very filthy and ugly city. Naphlion is clean and beautiful. But in the evening Athens becomes a very vibrant place, not because of lots of tourists, but because of the locals going out to the bars and restaurants. Naphlion is just for tourists, there are only souvenir and icecream shops, which makes it a very boring place. Those differences make you think about real beauty, if it’s the visual beauty, or the inside beauty of a city that is more important.

  32. N.T.H says:

    Me too. But sadly, I still live here.

  33. Mariana says:

    Moracco vs Dubai ?

  34. Rofa says:

    I lived there for a while. personally I was not fascinated by the fancy building or the glamor and glitter everywhere. the tallest building in the world was nothing to me. it doesn’t tell how great you are if you have money and then bring someone else to build things for you so you can brag about it. it is like buying a lamborghini and acting like you are the one who build it.
    not to mention, most of the ppl there are greedy and superficial.

    however I was working there and I wasn’t planning to leave at that time. and I had to find a way to be able to live there. so I had to get beyond the city and to discover more in the desert and be more with the nature. and I found some others are sharing the same thoughts with me.

    so we started to make plan each weekend, to go and discover something new far in the desert and between the mountains. and we really enjoyed somehow. despite the city, we had some really good memories. but however Dubai the city itself will always remain impersonal to me.

    • That’s a great way to experience the region Rofa, and as someone who has enjoyed a lot of time camping in the deserts and wildnernesses around the world I totally agree with you. It is just the shame the city itself is so soulless.

  35. Paul says:

    I went to Dubai 2 or 3 times around about 1990 and enjoyed it because it was still a small place. From what I’ve seen and read, and people I’ve spoken to I just really, really, really hate the sound of the place now and will never go there, ever. I think I just hate the type of people it seems to attract more than anything, but I think I’d hate to see what became of that nice little city in the desert.

    Now Tbilisi, which has been my home for the past 15 years, leaves an entirely different impression on people. Everyone wants to come back to Georgia.

  36. Jenna Monena says:

    I have NEVER been to Dubai, although I do plan on going there just for tour or visit for a few weeks or days. And you have a point here since I do think there is something not right in their country and their culture even if they’re rich or economically stable. I would rather go to better countries instead. I have only went to Singapore and Japan, besides my own country and I am not even proud living here because of the bad politics and some of the annoying people and celebrities here… :-/ Great article, though!

  37. Nina says:

    The whole place is Satanic! Stay Away!

  38. Elle says:

    I know what you mean I have never understood the appeal of Dubai.

  39. Chloe Gunner says:

    Interesting. I have never been but 8t has never appealled to me either. I really found myself nodding along to this and I think many of these are the reasons I don’t want to go.

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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