Sunday, October 18, 2015

Home Sweet Home

Here's a bit about where people live in Dubai. Some ex-pats who work white collar, professional type jobs live in high rise apartments in the Marina area or Downtown like me. Some, especially those with school aged kids, live in villas (like condos) in semi-suburban areas- there's one area called Mirdiff and there's a stereotyped stay at home ex-pat mom referred to as the "Mirdiff Mary", a bit like the Stepford Wife".

Service sector employees- sales gals, cable guys and so on- might live in more low rise apartment buildings or even one story units that aren't exactly apartments or villas in tightly packed neighborhoods near the older part of the city.

The guys who labor on road crews and in construction are housed by their companies in rough barracks with shared facilities.

Emirati families- from what I can tell- tend to have compounds in neighborhoods where two or more generations might live. Some in the same suburban neighborhoods as ex-pats though there doesn't tend to be a whole lot of hanging out in the neighborhood if you're a National. Chances are you've already got a pretty busy social life with hordes of cousins coming and going at the house. Good fences (or tall cement walls) make good neighbors as the saying goes.

standing in living room looking back toward front door
Here are a few pictures. First, my place. I know I've posted pictures of the view before so I won't re-post here. I'll just mention that from 14 stories up (there are 54 stories in my building) I look out onto Sheik Zayed Blvd which is a 10 lane highway that runs through the downtown area. From the guest bedroom, I have a great view of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. My floors are marble, my walls are concrete (that's the main reason I don't have more things hanging on the walls- it's a small construction project to get stuff up.) There's a small independent grocery store (mini mart) on the ground floor of the building
kitchen is a separate room- no open plan here
master bedroom. standing by the built-in closets/shelves
next to mine if I run out of milk . Every door in my house locks including the kitchen and a hallway door. I understand that this is in case I want to lock my live-in maid (which I don't have!) out . Fridges often come with a lock for the same reason. My fridge does not have a lock. I had to get a vanity for the bedroom to dry my hair with a mirror because there are no outlets in any of the bathrooms.  My place has 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. It's over 1600 square feet (that's bigger than my house in Vegas.) I'm seriously lucky to have this particular unit as it has a balcony and those views- not all in the building do.

on the tattoo couch with the "bedroom" past the wardrobe
In June, I had the chance to visit a place far more modest that my set up or the apartments and villas of my colleagues. A guy Amanda met who falls into that broad range of "people in various service jobs" is also a tattoo artist. He invited Amanda and I over so she could get a small tattoo. His house is set up for his hobby in a major way so it's probably not exactly like his neighbors' places but they're probably pretty alike in terms of general size and amenities. His place is a single story cement construction that shared walls with the units on either side. He has a kind of unfinished front room with concrete walls and floors but the roof was canvas, I think. Or there was no roof? I forget. No AC, no windows, a side room had a spigot and if I had to guess, a toilet of some kind or another, and there was a built in counter opposite with an electric 2 burner cooktop. there might have been a fridge. We walked through the front room pretty quickly because of the lack of AC and hung out most of the time in the only other room in the place- a combo bedroom, living room, office, hobby studio. Cement walls, floor, ceiling with an AC unit in the wall. One window into the unfinished front room. He had put some linoleum down and split the room with a wardrobe. His couch doubled as a place for friends getting tattoos to spread out, his laptop with an extra wall mounted screen served as TV/ entertainment. There was room for a couple of small chairs, while a bunk bed on the other side was both for sleeping and storage. He managed to really make it work.

Like any city, the range and nature of the accommodations is pretty broad. I am ever grateful that ZU set me up with a really great place. Visiting a very different kind of situation was a really good opportunity. I hope I have the chance, in time, to visit others in their homes and to experience the whole spectrum. Here are some random neighborhood shots.
an example of a kind of compound for a large family

probably an Emirati family home

one of the low rise apt cluster areas

in the older part of Dubai