Dubai Problems. We all have them, right? While tourists might flock to Dubai for its luxury hotels, fashion malls and glamorous nightlife, there’s a flip side to this glamorous, five-star destination that often goes unnoticed. For beneath the glossy facade of decadent brunches and Instagram influencers, many expat families are choosing to live a quieter, more wholesome kind of lifestyle – deliberately eschewing the trappings of Dubai’s bling reputation and instead doing their best to live as greenly as possible in the City of Gold.
But it’s not always easy.
From the glittering lustre of the Burj Al Arab’s golden elevators to the twinkling of the Burj Khalifa’s silver-spangled silhouette, Dubai has earned its flashy reputation for good reason. And although some aspects of life are undeniably easier as a Dubai expat parent – nannies, cooks and drivers are commonplace, for example – it’s certainly not always easy being green.
Eco Dubai Problems
Here are 25 Dubai problems that only eco-minded UAE mums and dads will understand:
Your nanny’s friends gossip that her employers must be ‘poor’ because you’ve chosen to use cloth diapers instead of disposable nappies for your baby.
‘I only like the PINK organic vegan marshmallows, Mummy!’ has been an actual complaint in your house.
Your eco dreams of dressing your little girl in only gender-neutral organic clothing evaporated when she was gifted a polyester princess dress that she now refuses to take off.
When your child comes home with a recyclable-art homework project that requires used plastic bottles and old newspaper, you find yourself driving to the closest supermarket to buy a plastic water bottle and a newspaper.
It’s your child’s birthday and you’d love to give out some homemade cookies as a treat for everyone, but school hygiene rules mean they all must be individually wrapped in cling film.
Nothing challenges the decision to wear a homemade, all-natural deodorant so much as doing school pick-up in the height of a Dubai summer.
The healthy, organic seaweed crisps you bought for your child are packaged in three whole different layers of single-use plastic (four if you buy the multipack).
Just as you de-plastify the toy box, your child returns from a birthday party with a loot bag full of (thoughtful) landfill-destined tat.
You buy reusable straws online and they arrive in plastic packaged sack and each individually wrapped in plastic.
While you agree with Greta Thunberg and the need to cut down on flying, the expat- lifestyle of limited annual leave and family located on the other side of the world mean that you feel like a hypocrite a lot of the time (carbon-credit guilt-cleanse, anyone?).
You turn the car engine off when waiting outside the school gates in summer, but the outdoor temperature is hotter than the face of the sun and without AC on you may literally pass out.
Your cleaner thinks your eco-alternative, non-toxic cleaning products are just you being cheap. Dubai problem!
You’ve finally converted your picky eater to vegan hot dogs for his packed lunch, and then the school complains they don’t meet the healthy eating guidelines.
The banana you bought online as a healthy-snack-on-the-go for your child arrives entirely wrapped in multiple layers of cling film.
You tried to be sustainable by buying your son’s desk second-hand on Dubizzle but one seller ghosted you; another one wasn’t in at the time you’d agreed you’d come to collect. With the emissions required to drive all the way to Deira you may as well have bought a new one.
You book an event organiser to help plan your child’s birthday party, but when you insist that you won’t be needing any balloons (let alone a balloon arch!) he looks at you like you’ve just kicked his puppy.
Your teenager announces he’s not going to learn to drive because he cares about the environment. When you ask how he’ll get around the Dubai suburbs independently without a car, his reply is: ‘Uber or Careem, of course’.
Your kids call your electric vehicle ‘the toothbrush car’ because it needs charging so often.
Got to love that your toddler can now legitimately order herself an oat milk babyccino: ‘Is the chocolate powder Fairtrade?’
No matter how many times you tell your nanny that it’s not necessary to have freshly laundered pajamas every night, they still keep turning up in the washing machine.
Your nine-year-old declares to her friend’s mother: ‘I don’t do fish fingers. We only eat homemade fish goujons from sustainable sources.’
The beautifully crafted wooden doll’s house you bought your little one for her birthday was cast aside the minute she opened the pink plastic Barbie make-up kit from her grandparents.
Although you’ve tried to explain that you’re deliberately no longer buying fabric softener because it’s a petroleum-based product that doesn’t biodegrade and kills marine life, your in-laws still stockpile every time they visit.
The vegan school shoes you bought to reduce your consumption of carbon-footprint-heavy cow leather turned out to be made of squeaky, sweaty plastic instead.
So many of the school mums are getting Botox these days that your decision to remain toxin-free ‘au natural’ is starting to make you look positively ancient by comparison.
We’d love to hear your eco Dubai Problems. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org