5 questions every UAE expat is sick of hearing
At every UAE expat party, there’s at least one person who is guaranteed to ask these infuriating questions.Peter Iantorno September 22, 2014
Any expat in the UAE will, at some point or another, attend a party at someone's apartment or villa. These functions usually follow a fairly standard formula, with a similar set of guests and, unfortunately, often a painfully repetitive pattern when it comes to conversation. Now, we understand that at a party full of expats, everyone has certain things in common so to an extent it's only natural that the same topics of conversation tend to crop up time and time again. But in amongst the reasonable party-goers looking to have fun and make conversation with new people, most gatherings will have at least one person who asks all the same questions for all the wrong reasons. With that in mind, here are five questions that you're pretty much guaranteed to hear at every expat party in the UAE:
1. "What do you do?"
We can understand why this question is being asked, because as expats, we've all come to the UAE in order to work and many of us have quite interesting professions. However, the real problem we have with this one is when the person who asks has no interest whatsoever in the answer. Why would anyone ask a question they're not interested in the answer to? Simple, because they work in oil and gas, or they're a pilot, and they want to bring up the topic purely so they can brag about the huge bonus they just got or the fact that they only touched down two hours ago after flying the A380 back from Sydney.
2. "How long have you lived here?"
Why is it that when meeting someone new, almost without fail, this is one of the first questions you'll be asked? We understand it gives the asker some context to put you in, and we wouldn't mind if it was something interesting, but we struggle to think of any possible answer to that question that's in the least bit exciting. The only slightly intriguing answer would be if you've been in the UAE for any longer than 15 years, to which the reply would illicit the obligatory "Oh wow, the country must have changed so much in that time?". "Yes, I remember when it was all desert!" you invariably say, then you both sigh and try to think of something a bit more worthwhile to talk about.
3. "The traffic is terrible nowadays, isn't it? Do you drive?"
Yes, of course traffic is bad. Dubai is a relatively small city with 2.2 million people packed into it, many of whom drive everywhere. And it's a similar case for Abu Dhabi. But the reason why this has been brought up isn't just because the asker loves stating the obvious, it's because he's desperate for an excuse to boast about the fact that he's just bought a new Mustang as a runaround, because he only likes to use his four by four at the weekends as he struggles to get it into the multistory car park at work.
4. "Do you like to travel?"
Odds are, if you're living in the UAE and you were born in another country, you probably do like to travel. And with both Dubai and Abu Dhabi perfectly placed for short-haul flights to amazing destinations, you probably have travelled to some nice places and would quite like to share the stories about your trips. Again, the problem here is that the person asking isn't at all interested in your answer. In fact, while you're regaling him with tales about your trip to Sri Lanka, he's got a story about his month spent backpacking around Southeast Asia cocked and loaded and ready to blurt out when you so much as pause for breath.
5. "Where do you like to go out?"
This may seem like a friendly invitation to join in with the next night out, but it's actually a thinly veiled excuse for the asker to brag about the fact that he knows the manager at the latest snobby nightclub to open up in the city and therefore can get a free table there any night he wants. And when you tell him that you actually prefer to have a few quiet drinks at your local rather than a complete blowout in a tacky venue where you can't get a drink unless it's presented to you by a bikini-clad girl and has flaming sparklers coming out of it, he looks at you with an expression of half pity, half disdain, then you both make your excuses and hope that the next person you talk to will be more on your wavelength.