Three Expats on What It’s Actually Like to Live in Dubai

Three residents give us the local color.

Three Expats on What It’s Actually Like to Live in Dubai

Bur Dubai

Photo by Siddharth Siva

Dubai is world-renowned for its luxury shopping, opulent architecture, lavish lifestyle, and its unique mix of traditional and modern vibes. The city is among the world’s top tourist destinations—but what is it like to actually live in Dubai? These three expats are giving us the details.

On Dubai’s creative side:

“Before we started the d3 project [Dubai Design District] in 2012, we were hearing from tourists that it was hard to access work originating here. In November 2015, we completed the first phase of the district: 2 million square feet of space with concept and niche shops, galleries, and workshops for artists, including the product designer Aljoud Lootah.

“We’re still moving in, though people can visit. The second phase—a mix of ateliers, workshops, and retail space—will be in place in 2019. When complete, the district will be a meeting zone for design enthusiasts and practitioners from all over the world and the Arab region in particular. We want creative people to collaborate, vibe off each other, and ultimately establish a new design vernacular. And it’s completely accessible to visitors. It’s only three minutes by car from the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa.”—Lindsay Miller, managing director of the Dubai Design District

On safety concerns:

“I never worry about my safety. I can go bird-watching in the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in the middle of the city or take in the fountain light show downtown. Thanks to the strong community, I can go out alone without fear.” —Amel B. Makkawi, French owner of the Art Sawa gallery

On preserving the city’s personality:

“The historic district of Bur Dubai inspired my photo series called Chasing Bur Dubai. The project began as a diary to preserve what has become the place closest to what I call home. Through it, I found other in-betweeners who shared my desire to create that sense of belonging.”—Ekta Saran, Indian photographer and filmmaker

>>Next: Want a Local’s Perspective on a New City? Spend a Night at These Hotels

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