Three Expats on What it's Actually Like to Live in Dubai

AFAR, February 16, 2017 (from the March/April Issue)

Three residents give us the local color.

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. (Read a longer account of why a watchmaker set up shop in Dubai here.) 

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