Middle East

A Lesson in Faith from Dubai by Marleigh Monique

 Replica of the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa / Dubai

Replica of the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa / Dubai

In my unending quest to see it all, I hastily booked a trip to Dubai to join a friend on a weeklong excursion to the United Arab Emirates. 4 days in Dubai plus 1 day in Abu Dhabi was bound to leave me awestruck and exhausted. However, I felt ill equipped to handle the challenges abroad.

 Sunset over the Dubai desert / Dubai

Sunset over the Dubai desert / Dubai

It started the first night when I couldn’t find the hostel. It took me well over an hour to locate because the street signs were too confusing, despite a printed map and directions.

 When in the U.A.E., you henna / Dubai

When in the U.A.E., you henna / Dubai

The following day, 2 different ATM machines rejected my debit cards from different banks. It’s amazing how humbled and weak I felt without access to cash.

 Stunning Kite Beach with the Burj Al Arab in the distance on the left / Dubai

Stunning Kite Beach with the Burj Al Arab in the distance on the left / Dubai

On day 3, feeling broken and irritated at not bringing more money, I took a local bus to Kite Beach with my friend. It was here that I had one of the most memorable experiences on the trip. As soon as I looked up, I realized magic was happening around me. The call to prayer sounded from a nearby mosque while I listened from the ocean. Here was a culture in the throws of change that still incorporated faith into daily life. How lucky was I to witness!

 Lunch @ The Irish Village / Dubai

Lunch @ The Irish Village / Dubai

 Snowboarding @ Ski Dubai / Dubai

Snowboarding @ Ski Dubai / Dubai

After this experience, I noticed that everywhere I went I was greeted with a warm smile and friendly hello. I felt safer in this glitzy city across the world than at home in NYC.

 Sheikh Zayed Mosque / Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Mosque / Abu Dhabi

With construction booming all over town (2 more palm islands in development, the building of a new indoor ski resort, plus the opening of art museums and a Hunger Games theme park), I will likely return in the next few years. When I do, I hope to leave as refreshed and inspired as the first time.

 Beaching it up @ Yas Beach / Abu Dhabi

Beaching it up @ Yas Beach / Abu Dhabi