In the past few weeks, I have met up with a few friends (or friends of friends) who are new to the region.
One is a friend who just moved here with her husband and daughter, and the other is a family who is here for a few days, visiting their relative (who also happens to my relative) for the first time. Both groups are North American and have never been to the UAE before.
Talking to these people makes you realize how much we take things for granted sometimes... Seeing the UAE through their eyes is a truly enlightening experience. They're amazed at the grandeur of things....at the choices that are available...at the shops and stores and restaurants we have...at the weather and the beaches and the hotels...at the fact that this is an Arab country...and that this country is probably unlike anything they've ever seen or imagined.
And it makes you realize...that beyond the daily traffic woes...and the ever increasing cost of living...and the overbearing heat and humidity in the summer, and the sometimes poor quality of customer service...and the often useless bureaucracy of governmental institutions...beyond all that, and despite all that...this is a great place to live in.
A friend asked me a few months ago whether I liked living here. I told him these words exactly: "I live comfortably, I have a good job, I do not pay taxes, my family's close, we have great weather (and great beaches) almost all year, I have a great group of friends that I've known since high school (if not longer), and rarely a weekend goes by without it being chock-full of activities...what more can one ask for?"
Really...what more can one ask for?