Dubai Hero

What did I do in Dubai?

I stayed in Dubai for a period of 10 days in the month of July. This was my second work-vacation to a country outside of India. I was mostly working this time around, but I managed to explore the city during the evenings and on one weekend I’d at hand.

How did Dubai happen? What was it like to spend some time in Dubai? Let me run you through it.

Chapter 1 – What took me to Dubai?

I’d left my full-time job in Mumbai on 25th of Jan, 2017 and I’ve been working as an independent Product Design Consultant since then. You may also call me as a full-time freelancer. I’d been talking to this prospective client based in Dubai about taking up their project of designing an online experience for a white-labelled restaurant delivery service.

Very recently, I was back from Thailand and just finished working on a project for mCanvas in Mumbai. I was up for grabs and this project from then prospective client based in Dubai just happened at the right time.

By the way, I’d also interviewed for a Lead Designer position at just before signing a project with this client based in Dubai. Had their HR not delayed on making me an offer, Dubai wouldn’t have happened. But, I’m glad the way things rolled out. I’m a happy freelancer now, working out of my rented flat in Mumbai (I share it with 2 other folks) with flexibility and comfort, travelling more often and getting to do what I’ve always loved doing – designing digital products.

So, the bottomline being that I signed up for a project with this client. The estimated duration of the project was 2.5 months including my stay of 10 days in Dubai at client’s place.

Majority of my time on any project is spent remotely, but I do need to spend some time at the client’s office during the initial stages of the project and sometimes during the final stages. Projects that take more than a month are usually the ones that demand active collaboration with the client and it becomes very crucial to understand the client’s business and their values to be able to get on the same page and deliver the expected outcome.

Chapter 2 – The preparation, not really

Unlike Thailand, Dubai was on a client-site. So, my travel was taken care of by my client. The only preparation I had to do was to pack my bags, which wasn’t really a task, since I was just back from Thailand and had ticked all the boxes for international travel packing.

My point of contact on the project made sure that I didn’t have to worry about the visa, flight booking and the accommodation. All that I had to do, was to show up.

I was staying at the Regent Palace Hotel near BurJuman metro, which was about 10 minutes walking distance from my client’s office. This arrangement in particular did me solid. I could cut-off the commutation time and invest it in exploring the city instead.

I’ve to say, I was humbled by the hospitality of my client. They say that work is about building relationships that last and I wouldn’t hesitate in saying that this company has that part figured out.

Chapter 3 – Exploring Dubai

As I mentioned earlier, majority of my day was spent at client’s office and I had the evenings and a weekend to spend by myself. The temperature in Dubai in the month of July was hitting 40-45 degrees Celsius and it literally felt like you were put in an oven. Fortunately, this went down to 30 degrees Celsius in the evening and worked out just fine for me.

Remember that feeling when you find your countrymen outside of your country? Well, I found my good friend in Dubai. Shailesh is my good friend from Mumbai who has been living in Dubai for last few years. He had recently got married and had his wife visiting him in Dubai for a couple of months.

What better than having your friends showing you around the new city? My evenings were sorted with Shailesh and Kajal (Shailesh’s wife) taking me to new places and helping me explore the city. We had been to a couple of malls, went for a movie, had dinner at few different places, went to Dragon Mart (largest trading hub for Chinese products outside mainland China) and they also helped me with shopping for my family and friends back home.

My best memory with them in Dubai being of UNO nights at a Shisha lounge. There was this place called Jus T Cafe and Restaurant, they make amazing Shisha and French fries. They play Bollywood music and the ambiance is very friendly too.

And the night I was invited to their place for dinner was fun too. For someone who has spent more than 8 years away from home, I’ve always loved home-cooked food and Kajal had made some delicious food for us that night.

On the weekend, I had been to the famous The Dubai Mall. God, this place is super huge. So huge that they have the largest aquarium and underwater zoo inside the mall. To be honest, I’m not a mall person and don’t get overwhelmed by the stores in the mall, so I had to do something else. I decided to buy the AED 150 ticket to the aquarium and spent my next few hours gazing at the aquatic life.

Darshan Dubai Aquarium
That’s me with an awkward smile

These people have species of the aquatic animals I’ve never heard of and damn they’re beautiful. Then they’ve a King fuckin’ Croc twice as the size of the normal ones. Then there are these hilarious Penguins who’re upto some weird shit. There’s also a small section of the zoo where they’ve the deadly and vicious desert animals on display. It’s a fun place to visit, kids would totally love it.

Deadly snake at Dubai Aquarium
Look at this silent killer waiting for its prey

One evening, I also went on my own to explore the Dubai Creek. There are these AED 1-2 boats that help you get from one side to the other of the creek. I had been to Old Souk and Gold Souk. Souks are the markets for pure quality gold, spices and fine Iranian saffron. I bought some for home, not the gold, but the saffron 😉

Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek

The night before my return flight to India, Shailesh’s friend showed me some places of historic importance and wonders of modern architecture in his sports car (I don’t remember the name, since I’m not into cars. Yes, I said it). I saw the Sheikh’s palace, Sheikh’s son’s palace, Sheikh’s wife’s palace and God knows how many more palaces. Sorry, I lost the track of it. Can you imagine, these Sheikh’s have their private zoos in their palaces?

That night, I also saw the one and only 7-star hotel in the world and the beautiful Atlantis, The Palm area of Dubai. Of course, all of this was from the outside. Who would give me an entry inside? Lol!

Chapter 4 – Dubai, a hit or a miss?

A hit because of the people I was around with, a miss in terms of the city it is. I would like to be very honest with my opinion of the city, I feel it’s full of double standards and extremely fabricated. Close to zero natural vegetation and outdoor hotspots makes me very disinterested in the place. It’s a modern city with a great mix of global culture, but all of that doesn’t cover for the cost one has to pay to live in the city.

Prostitution isn’t legal here, but they seem to have accepted it as a major business. Almost on every corner of the street, you would see visiting cards of the agents/escorts lying around urging to be picked by tourists. You park your car somewhere for half an hour and you’ll see a stack of those cards thrown on and around your car. I’m not really against prostitution as a business, but just don’t like the way they market it in Dubai.

Dubai is bloody expensive and the wages are high too. I would say, it’s an ideal place to spend around 2-3 years and save enough money to return back to your country and start something of your own with the capital at hand. And yeah, it’s ideal for 3-4 days leisure getaway as well if you’re into expensive and royal shit.

I’m sorry I didn’t have enough pictures for this story, this trip wasn’t that picture-friendly :p

What’s next from me? I’ve just finished working on the project with this client based in Dubai and started working on a little personal project. I would be travelling to Himachal in the month of December and to another country in the early 2018.

How about you? Are you travelling too? Any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments or tweet to @WeirdoWizard.

See you around 🙂


2 thoughts on “What did I do in Dubai?

  1. Nice post, Darshan. I too was awestruck by the Dubai Aquarium on my trip in 2015. Absolutely amazing sights in there. I still drink my Saturday breakfast cappuccino out of the mug I bought in the gift shop.

    However, while I found Dubai’s immaculate presentation and cleanliness an extraordinary experience, I DID often feel like I was in one of those sci-fi films where the privileged elite dwell in a gorgeous spotless utopia while, behind the scenes, there’s a zombie slave army keeping it all going, haha! Definitely otherworldly. (But I’d still LOVE to go again. Because I don’t mind malls, being a woman.) 😉

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