Ramadan is on the way!

Ramadan is a very special time for Muslims as they commemorate the revelation of their holy book – Quran.

One of the most prominent aspects of Ramadan is the fast, as Muslims practice strict fasting during the day (no eating, drinking or smoking;  some very traditional people will not swallow their own spit!). At the suramadannset, they break the fast with Iftar (a meal that usually starts with dates and water and continues with feast of various yummy dishes). While it is religious by its nature, Ramadan is also very important socially as families and friends gather to break the fast together and continue socialising till early hours of next day. Most of the people prepare home made meals, however restaurants also offer special Iftar buffets, which are also popular with Muslim and non-Muslims alike.

Needless to say, working normally while fasting is a  challenge, so by law, during Ramadan the working hours are shortened by 2 hours. The rule is sporadically enforced, and the most of the companies allow only their Muslim workers to leave early. In general, business is slower during Ramadan (similar to Christmas and the New Year period in the Western world).

Non-Muslims are not expected to fast, however the UAE law forbids ANY drinking, eating and smoking in public during daytime in the month of Ramadan. That effectively means that the cafes and restaurants are closed during day and open only after sun sets. However all the hotels will have at least one restaurant open thoughout the day to cater for non-Muslims. Also most of the smaller restaurants and fast food places are open for take-out or delivery during the day.  No alcohol is served during Ramadan (this includes hotels. bars, clubs etc).

This year the Ramadan is expected to start on Aug 22nd and will end around Sept 20th when a 3 day public holiday of Eid starts. Try to enjoy this special time with your Muslim friends!

Ramadan Kareem!

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Hot and Cold Water

Evolution has given camels long eyelashes and padded feet to cope with this harsh desert. Us humans are very poorly adapted to this environment and even after we made it into something we can live in (towns with houses, roads, malls etc), the nature still show us every now and then who has the upper hand! Like this story with hot and cold water.

Water taps

Water taps

During the summer temperatures in UAE reach the high 40’s or sometimes even 50′C. As the cold water tanks are placed on the building or villa’s roofs, they get baked whole day leaving the water coming out of cold water tap piping hot. The man wouldn’t be the man if he/she couldn’t find a way around it – switch off the water heater so we get cold water from the hot tap! Voila! Problem solved – red tap means cold water and blue tap means hot water – at least during summer!

Much smaller price to pay for adaptation compared to getting padded feet!

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20th century

I have this theory that Dubai in its development skipped few important achievements of 20th century. We sure have all the glitz and glamour of 21st century – wireless in cafes, internet banking, ski dome, tallest building in the world, artificial islands, blackberries… all the mambo jumbo. But in the rush to catch up with rest of the Very Developed World, there were few things that we Dubaians don’t have and the rest of the world have had for quite some time.

old-bicycleOne of those things is proper public transportation. The reason I emphasize proper as some sort of public transportation exists for a while back. Those were mostly buses with irregular service and most importantly very limited and short lines. So to get from Media City (where loads of people work) to Al Qusais (where loads of people live, mostly because of affordable rents) you had to take minimum 3 buses!!! Needless to say, most people choose other methods of transporting themselves from home to work and back (their own cars or taxis if they could afford or alternatively private buses (that drive you directly directly to work in the morning and back home after work ) or car pooling with friends or even strangers ).

Luckily, this had began to change.  Road and Transport Authority started some new (long enough) bus lines, the bus stops are now all air-conditioned (trust me, not a whim, but a necessity in this climate), there are talks of more bus lines, water buses, trams…

But the most thrilling of all is  the Dubai Metro. Opening in Sept 9th, 2009, it is the talk of the town and had been for a while. And for all the rights reasons I think.

Construction of Dubai Metro

I love metros! The speed and the fact that their speed is not influenced by the heavy traffic on the roads above (or below)!! I am so looking forward next time I go to Burjuman (or anywhere in Deira or Bur Dubai for that matter) and instead of an hour that takes me now, I get there within 20 minutes! Talk about making your life easier! Not to mention what metro will mean to the tourists (or your visitors) who will not have to pay hefty taxi fares or try to figure out complicated public bus system.

OK, you got it  – I am all pro metro! Does it mean I will give up my car? Not in a million years and not in any city of this world!! What I am trying to say here is I LOVE choice – and Dubai metro is giving me exactly that – one more realistic option how to get from point A to point B. What is there not to love?!

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Blessed free delivery

There is a sticky note next to my phone that is all important to my life. It has 2 phone numbers on it  – the local supermarket (AKA the grocery) and the laundry.  And why are they so important – they both deliver for free!

UAE businesses have mastered free delivery. Everything here can get to your door with no extra charge. All the restaurants deliver here, sticky notepharmacies, laundry, not to mention expected things like flowers and fast food places. And if they happen not to deliver directly, they will courier things to you (e.g. credit cards, cheque books, insurance papers). One of the best examples is that Indian embassy actually delivers your passport back to you once your visa had been issued so you do not have to go there to collect the passport!

On the more every day level, I find especially convenient the local supermarket  and the laundry delivery. Supermarket for the fact that they will deliver the smallest things to you (like a half douzen of eggs) or very heavy things (like bottles of water) within 30 minutes or less (if you are lucky and tip (2-3 dhs) the delivery guy regularely).  Needless to say they are small shops with limited choice, so for your favourite brand of brie cheese you still have to go to one of the big supermarkets (like Spinney’s or Carrefour), but your bare essentials like water, juice, eggs, milk, toilet paper, mobile phone credit they are conveniently just a phone call away!

The laundry sends someone to collect your clothes AND delivers it back to you washed, ironed, drycleaned (whatever you requested). No extra charge, just  very reasonable rate (the ironing of a shirt (by my standards THE most hated activity in the universe) is 2-4 dhs depending on the laundry).  Heaven!

Am I getting spoiled? Of course I am  – that’s why I am in Dubai!

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Welcome to my blog!

I have been asked again and again by the people thinking about relocating to UAE and by newly arrived expats about life in Dubai and its glitches. Because let’s face it, the life that we lead here as expats is pretty different than the one we lead back home, whereever that home was.

There is already loads of information about Dubai on the web, however it often doesn’t paint the true picture of the real life in Dubai. And more importantly, very small portion of the information out there is of help to all those people who are trying to make Dubai their new home. So this blog is dedicated to this – sharing useful information about actual life in Dubai.

Welcome to my blog!

Ksenya Prekovic

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