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Another Dubai Postcard


Breaking News: Our Dubai Operation is Set to Expand as I Start to Pack my Bags (Slowly)

Alice WalkerBullion.Directory News
By Alice Walker
Investor Relations Manager at Bullion.Directory

I’m just back from having spent four weeks in Dubai – part of Ally’s charm offensive to get me to join Bullion.Directory’s office in the UAE.

And it worked.

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My first time in Dubai, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than the gold Rolls Royces and insta models I’d seen on Dubai Bling.

Boy I could not have been more wrong!

ally-and-alice-in-dubai-desertAs my 2am taxi sped it’s way out of DXB we soon headed away from road signs pointing to the Dubai staples of Jumeirah and Burj towards a sketchier looking place called ‘Deira.’

Sparkling modern high rise towers quickly gave way to much older 5 or 6 storey buildings and I began to wonder if I was even in the right city!

I asked the lady taxi driver if this was the right way and she smiled saying ‘You go Deira.’

Deira was Ally’s Dubai – the original Dubai, in some ways unchanged from the 1970s and early 80s and home to Dubai’s famous Gold Souk.

As my pink-roofed taxi sped by hundreds of small shops, shuttered for the night, and we launched over speed bumps with zero regard to speed limits or suspension components, I could have been anywhere other than the Dubai I thought I knew!

As the taxi stopped outside a newer apartment building Ally was waiting in the street to meet me. A lone woman in a dark street at 2.30am. I was so confused!

Was she not scared of being murdered, robbed or kidnapped – I asked. ‘Don’t be stupid, this is Dubai – there’s nowhere safer in the world‘ she laughed. She paid the taxi and off it sped.

Ally’s apartment in the Deira Enrichment Project is stunning. Massive tall ceilings and two large bedroom suites come off a vast living area with full height windows and a balcony looking over the whole of the old city.

I’d been traveling for almost 24 hours so after some excited greetings I went immediately to bed – only to be woken 2 hours later by the local mosques echoing the morning call to prayer loudly across Deira.

Opening my window to better listen, my air-conditioned suite was hit by what I can only describe as a blast furnace.

I was not in Kansas anymore.

The next few days were wall-to-wall culture shocks. I was reminded much more of downtown Delhi than the futuristic city I’d seen on TV.

We went to the old gold souk and the (to me) far more preferable Gold Souk Extension. I bought some gold bangles at very close to gold’s spot price. We drank weird milky sweet tea and ate weird ‘Desi’ food. We were offered ‘designer handbags, watches, Rolex, Louis Vuitton’ by sketchy looking guys on every street corner.

Souvenir shop owners in the Grand Souk somehow decided among themselves that I was Shakira so ‘Come here Shakira, look see no buy‘ became my catchphrase. My hips did not lie.

Looking at my permanently sweaty hot red face Ally eventually concluded that maybe walking the insanely crowded streets of Deira and nearby Bur Dubai were not actually for me – so relented, changed tack and took me to Dubai Mall. This was heaven.

On a roll, she spent the next few days guiding me around Jumeirah and the bling side of Dubai. SO many amazing restaurants. Shops to die for. This was heaven.

After doing all the main tourist stuff, I caught up with Mac who was just back from a business trip and we all spent a week working on our exciting new project. I want to say more about it but am sworn to secrecy…

I also got to see our office out at the Silicon Oasis ‘Freezone’ – which is like a mini city in the middle of nowhere, half an hour outside Dubai. Again NOTHING like what I thought Dubai was.

Our office building in Silicon Oasis

Our office building in Silicon Oasis Freezone

The Dubai government is currently seeking to promote Working From Home in a bid to reduce congestion and pollution and I could see why it didn’t take much persuasion for Ally to only go to Silicon Oasis for essential meetings.

Mac wasn’t a big fan of the commute either and recent changes in corporate law meant he’d have been much better just setting up a regular company in Dubai rather than in a distant freezone. Live and learn as they say!

With Mac and Ally giving me side-eye stares it didn’t take me long to get into a good work routine, starting early morning while it was comparatively cool – and we spent our evenings out and about, either locally at the most random cafes and tea houses or in the new Dubai, then back for a little more pre-bed work. It was a perfect work/play mix.

I also bought more gold.

On a practical front the wifi was mostly decent and I was given a local SIM at the airport which gave me good local cell data. I soon discovered I needed to use VPN to access a lot of client websites, the use of which is a bit of a grey area in the UAE, but before long I clean forgot I was working in a foreign land. Yes I was almost 12 hours separated from the west coast US time zone, but I was far closer to Australia – and with a working day that was much longer than I’m used to in the UK I was able to speak live with clients around the globe at times that suited them.

Dubai was beginning to make far more sense to me and the chats I had with other expats from Europe, Asia and America, kept hammering home the safety of the place. Either everyone was mistaken, or violent crime and theft just was not a thing here.

I’ll admit, I had come here with some significant prejudices and expectations of danger and hazard. My friends and family told me I was flying out to a terrible land, embroiled in the centre of a war and where women couldn’t do anything – and on the ground I found out that this was all an absolute nonsense.

I can honestly say I’ve never been in a more friendly and safer place than Dubai, nor been made to feel more welcome by both local Emiratis and Western expats alike.

I was drinking the kool-aid.

For the final part of Ally’s Habibi-Come-to-Dubai master plan, we went out into the desert for a dune-bashing safari in an old 4×4 which was amazing. Less so was the obligatory camel ride, although I did strike up a permanent friendship with my initially very grumpy ship of the desert.


We ate an interesting dinner under the stars and as I sat by the camp fire that night I truly began to ‘get’ just why Ally is so smitten with the place, to the point that by the end of my stay I was beginning to enjoy the authentic nature of old Dubai far more than the Instagram world of The Palm and Burj. I also discovered I’m not a fan of camping.

Could I see myself living here? A self-confessed snowflake, super pale-skinned, single white female?

We went over the business side of my potential move. Personal income was tax free, but corporate income was now subject to tax. If I left the UK I’d have to commit to at least 3 years away or risk HMRC wanting to tax everything I’d earned in Dubai.

I’d need a visa, but Bullion.Directory could sort that for me. I could rent an apartment, or buy. Ally said I could stay with her until I got on my feet…

I said I’d think about it.

My four weeks were up in the blink of an eye and suddenly I was carting my suitcase into a taxi at 4am ahead of the long economy flight back home.

cold-and-wet-aliceWhen I arrived back in the UK, sore and stiff, suddenly I felt like a stranger in my own land.

After a 4-hour delay at border control and a freezing bus ride back to my car, which was abandoned way way way at the far end of the long-stay car park, I had a 2 hour drive down the motorway.

What WAS this cold, grey, angry, dirty place? HOW MUCH was petrol? You want £1 for an onion!? Will I get stabbed down this street?

As soon as I was back at my flat, I was straight on the computer and started looking at flights.

I’m moving to Dubai in November.

Bullion.Directory or anyone involved with Bullion.Directory will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading in precious metals. Bullion.Directory advises you to always consult with a qualified and registered specialist advisor before investing in precious metals.

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