If this had indeed been a Netflix series we would have lost many viewers after the climax of season 1. For the simple reason that season 2 is horribly boring so far. We are indulging in nothingness, both being unemployed while waiting for the Chinese adventure to start in August.

So what’s keeping us busy these days? Well, we take it slow, very slow. One could say that we go from a long breakfast to a late morning coffee, then onwards to lunch, to afternoon tea&coffee and then…it’s dinner time! Highlights of the day we call them. And now and then a walk to the supermarket.
So in between there is plenty of time to think, to reflect and look back on 5 marvelous years in Dubai.

When I asked HW what the years in Dubai have given him, one of the first things he mentioned was “cultural diversity”. Both in work but also in friendship. In the past 5 years we were introduced to friends and colleagues from all over the world; Egypt, Saudi, Lebanon, India, South Africa, Kenia, Nigeria, Uganda, Malaysia, Philippines, Colombia, Argentina, Australia, UK, Denmark, France, Spain, Portugal, Poland and the US… just to name a few! And in this melting pot of cultures we navigated through meetings, parties and home cooked dinners. This often caused funny and sometimes painful misunderstandings. For instance the time where my Dutch honest directness turned out to be pretty offensive in the eyes of my Philippine colleague. Or the dozen of times where HW went out for drinks with his mates at 6pm, not understanding why diner would not be part of the plan that evening (and as a result coming home completely…… well you get the idea).

All these interactions have changed us, and changed the way we look at our own culture too. Being back in the Netherlands I suddenly perceive myself how the infamous Dutch directness can actually feel a bit rude and offensive at times. And while we used to be quite the punctual Dutch couple, showing up right on time, we now often find ourselves running easily over time and we do not even fuss about it. So a culture, anyones culture, is not a ‘given’. It’s fluid, and it will adapt while spending time in another culture or cultures.

But it’s not only the people that have changed us. It’s also the food, the music, the national holidays….everything really. The lavish Arabian mezze which would hardly fit on one table, the amazing Turkish breakfasts at the beach, the tasteful Iranian dinners we had in the Marina, they all opened new worlds for us.
And after spending many company organized parties with my Egyptian and Indian colleagues, I now find myself dancing happily on the tunes of Boshret Kheir (Hussain al Jasmi) or the Punjabi song Mundian To Bach Ke (Panjabi MC) or dreaming away at the sweet sound of Abu’s 3 Daqat.
Ramadan and Diwali are yearly marked on the calendar.

But 5 years in Dubai have done much more for us besides becoming culturally versed and adapting a taste for Arabian music and Turkish breakfasts. It also made us stronger as a couple. It has taught us that we can start a life in a place where we have no connections, no friends, no home. We know now that we can make that place our home, that we can make connections and become friends with strangers. And that we can rely on each other; we are in this together. And with our upcoming adventure in China in mind, that is a comforting thought!

So yes, Dubai made us richer. In oh so many ways!

Five years of friendship in Dubai

3 Daqat – Abu ft. Yousra

Boshret Kheir – Hussain Al Jasmi

Mundian To Bach Ke – Panjabi MC