The women’s majlis: Dubai earned its Expo 2020 chance

Year after year, the city astonishes the world with its intricate infrastructure, attractive recreational areas and residents from all walks of life.

Even though the seven emirates are united under one umbrella, I wouldn’t be wrong in saying Dubai stands out. Year after year, the city astonishes the world with its intricate infrastructure, attractive recreational areas and residents from all walks of life.

I grew up in Abu Dhabi, but I’ve witnessed the tremendous change Dubai has undergone. My aunt is from Dubai, and we would visit her every now and then. While driving on Sheikh Zayed Road, it was common to see new building erupting out of nowhere. “This building wasn’t here last time I came,” I would tell myself. Now, when I commute to Dubai, it never ceases to amaze me how in a short period of time, a barren land has turned into a modern city and a major tourist ­destination.

Even after the financial crash of 2008, Dubai retained its image. At a recent Government summit, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, asked his audience the reason behind Dubai’s success. One attendee immediately responded: “Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid”. It is indeed him. His wise leadership and vision elevated Dubai. When Dubai won the right to host Expo 2020, the entire UAE was euphoric. I was jumping and hugging my family. Dubai deserves it, because it earned it. Within a few years, we will witness a new Dubai, making it the subject of many discussions.

One of my favourite Dubai-based Emirati photographers, Mohammed Ahli, always captures the skyscrapers of the city. I sometimes get more engrossed in his captions than the pictures. Of one picture of the Burj Al Arab, he wrote: “I can’t describe how much I love my city. How much I am proud of being from Dubai. I always wished to be a tourist of my own beautiful city.” I was touched when I read that.

Sometimes my family leave their passports at home and holiday in Dubai. There’s so much to see and do. Dubai is a world where you can taste every kind of food, culture, belief and luxury.

My mother and I went to the Burj Khalifa’s observation deck. It took us less than a minute to reach level 148. I had a “wow” moment. Elevators in shopping malls would take longer than that to reach their top floors.

Dubai has saved me many times. Seven years ago, I made my first trip to Thailand. A man approached us and asked about our nationality. He assumed we were Saudis because of our attire. We explained we were from Abu Dhabi. “Abu Dhabi, where in the world is that?” he asked. When we mentioned Dubai, his face went translucent with joy. He thought Dubai was the country. Many people can relate to this. When travelling, mentioning ­Dubai is the easiest option, because outsiders aren’t always used to hearing of any other emirates. I’ll be forever indebted to Dubai for that.

Asmaa Al Hameli is a features writer at The National.

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Published: April 30, 2015 04:00 AM


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