Ten things I miss about the UAE now I've gone

Where else are you going to get a cup of karak chai - delivered to your car for a few coins - even if it’s well past midnight?

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Chances are the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do in the UAE is leave.

The country is a haven for travellers — but that also means that packing up and bidding farewell is all part and parcel of the overall journey.

Obviously, everyone has their own experiences and memories of the UAE, and given that its diverse population will be dispersing to countries around the world, it’s hard to generalise about what people will miss most.

As someone who has recently relocated, here’s what I miss.

Perennial sunshine

Yes, UAE summers may not be for everyone. But it’s a small price to pay for brilliant blue skies all year round.

Every single day, you can step out of the house without having to check the weather forecast or wear a million layers (like I do in my new Canadian home). That also means that on the handful of days that it does rain, it’s considered rare enough that you actually appreciate the novelty.

The ease of everyday life

One of the biggest things I miss about the UAE is the sheer convenience the country provides. Need the house cleaned? You can hire a cleaner for a nominal rate. Maintenance? There’s a guy for that and you can book him via an app. Fancy a cup of tea well after midnight? Some late-night spots will even deliver it to your car for a mere dirham or two.

Let’s face it, this country spoils you, and it’s hard to adapt to a life less convenient after moving on.

Everything delivered

You can even have your petrol delivered to your door in the UAE, courtesy of Cafu. Adam Workman / The National

Going out of your house isn't a necessity, but a choice. After all, you can get everything under the sun at your door. I’m not just talking about Zomato and Talabat or Amazon and Noon.com. I'm thinking of haircuts, massages, laundry, pet grooming, PCR tests and even fuel (thank you, Cafu).

You can even call the local grocer to ask for a packet of crisps or milk (as I’m ashamed to admit I’ve done on several occasions).

Every cuisine under the sun

Thanks to the marvellous diaspora (there are more than 200 nationalities in Dubai alone), you can find just about every cuisine your heart desires. With options such as Peruvian-Japanese-French or an Omakase with Emirati-Japanese flavours, it’s easy to feel spoilt for choice, especially since sometimes it’s all under the same roof, too, as in the case of food halls.

And thanks to the ever-evolving food scene and home-grown players, the options are only getting better.

The ridiculously delicious and cheap street food

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Mar 24: People enjoying food in the evening at Ravi restaurant in Al Satwa in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For Personal Finance. Story by Daniel Bardsley  *** Local Caption ***  PS03- RAVI RESTAURANT.jpg

While UAE is known for it’s pretty high standard of living, you really do get the best of both worlds. The street food, in particular, is eccentric and highly affordable.

Anyone who has lived in the UAE for any length of time knows that shawarmas, falafels and hummus are delicious and found on every corner, while cafeterias will prepare everything from Szechuan chicken noodles to colourful sundaes.

From Emirati regag and luqaimat to Dh1 chai and pani puri, you don’t need to break the bank for a delicious and hearty meal out.

The nightlife

Restaurants and clubs are open late, beach clubs are bustling and, thanks to the warm weather and great security, going out at night is easy and, well, fun.

If you’re always looking for your next party, the UAE — and, in particular, Dubai — might be a hard place to get over.

The technology

In terms of life admin, processes are fine-tuned, easily deciphered and everything is online. All you need is a mobile phone and internet to do everything from banking and paying off driving fines to making bookings and clearing utility bills.

It really does feel like you’re living in the future sometimes, especially if you then move to a place that has a lot of red tape.

Road trips

Skyline or mountain views are all a feast for the eyes in the UAE. AFP

The UAE and its residents love their cars. Fuel is more affordable than most other parts of the globe, plus long stretches of roads and affordable insurance makes this a great place to own a car.

Some of my favourite memories involve long drives with no end destination.

The views

With sandy white beaches around every corner, gorgeous desert views (if you drive to the outskirts) and rocky mountains as you get closer to Ras Al Khaimah, there’s a lot of gorgeous natural beauty to explore.

On the flipside, if it’s sparkling skyscraper views that make your heart beat faster, it doesn’t get better than Downtown Dubai at night.

Easy and quick travel

Thanks to its central location, you don’t have to spend a bomb to satisfy that wanderlust. There is a plethora of countries less than a four-hour flight away and this also translates to affordable tickets and impulsive weekend getaways. My top tip? Be sure to take advantage of those offers and air miles while you can.

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Updated: April 15, 2022, 6:02 PM
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