My 3rd Emirati Experience


I feel like I can relate. I know where I am trying to go to, I know what I want to achieve. We need to achieve it, whatever it takes but your team lacks the same passion so they think you are just over the top or for the lack of decent words, they think you are crazy, no maybe simply an a$$ hole. I am me; I am not the other person.  Coach runs on the runway at the exact same time as first class.

Strong religious objection to just making it good. Attention to detail, Pursuing excellence, Executing perfection. Work hard enough to become the ones you once looked up to’s biggest competition.  People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. Show them what they start demanding badly.

IMG_5750It needs to say hello because it can! The audience is fired up for this. I actually look cute when I am not fired up. Maybe it’s just me who sees the world the way I do. I am on fire with the rage of a volcano when things are just not going well and it’s the people who are the problem not the object we place.  They ought to remember they were chosen for a purpose, something they should be proud of but if they get dropped along the way, they should look at it as an amicable divorce. I am not ok losing. That’s what men do. Win! Ha ha ha, did she really just say that? Less audience but standing ovation. People are attracted to people with talent. People without it find it threatening.

DSC_0069If you hear about your legacy, you need to fall behind the people who helped you. They may sit and watch you do better than them and still hang around because they see your greatness or blow the horns hoping your reign will soon cease.  Inspired by Steve Jobs. Now let’s see what a third trip to Dubai has in store.


It was a very irritating flight but thank God we arrived safely. I survived the spilt juice.



To me, Dubai is a great place. A diversified economy, fantastic infrustructure, high standard education system operating 16 different educational curriculums running at the same time, including boutique curriculums to cater for the 200 plus different nationalities in Dubai, encouraging diversities and giving parents of the students happy choices. It has an advanced public transport system, great quality accommodation, assorted shopping options, ease of doing business in Dubai. Lawyers in Dubai say it is extremely easy to set up a business in Dubai because of the advantages of having designated free zone opportunities available to you. There are designated free zones for designated activities and business needs. For example our hotel is in Internet City, which is a free zone area for Internet companies. Opposite us is Media City, designated to Media companies. The various free zone areas are named solely after the purpose of the business run in that area. Who knows, one day, Debra-Jane Nelson may be CEO of a Dubai based International Company, living in a beautiful apartment, taking life each day as it comes. Hey, who said you can’t dream? The more one gives, the more one gets out. The smarter I work, the harder I persevere, the longer I get-up-and-go, it might just happen. As long as I just never stand still.

For the very first time in my life, I have seen rain in Dubai.  Watching thunder and rain from my hotel room window reminded me of my last night in Pattaya. Perfect weather for a nap after an eventful morning at the airport.  The first surprise was an airplane ticket on Valentine’s Day for my mother for a trip to Dubai in two days for 6 nights.  The second surprise was when my younger brother Robair arrived at the airport an hour and a half after ours from London. Don’t buy her flowers after she is gone; don’t only tell her how much you love her in her obituary.  Make every moment with the ones you love one that makes their world complete. Don’t get me wrong, we disagree a lot, we argue, but the fundamentals remain. To love and be loved, to care and be cared for.

She was waiting, she didn’t know what she was waiting for but I made her wait.  Stalled her with a queue in the Du Shop to get a new mobile phone sim, then a shuttle ride to another terminal where I said I had to get a car rental, and then breakfast so she could take her medication.  Whilst she was on her last few bites, I saw his head bopping behind a crowd of passengers arriving from London.  I see him holding his skateboard in his left hand and pulling his travel bag with the right.  The plan was I would video her reaction and he would too as he walked towards her so I got my phone out. Check this out, priceless!

Day 1: After the excitement settled in, we drove to our hotel, unpacked, and started preparing for a nap before the evening trip to the Mall of Emirates.  3 hours of sleep later, we started getting ready to meet my friends Selom and Manal for dinner at P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. Food was great, especially the prawn cocktails we ordered as a starter. Everyone in that restaurant ordered the beautiful tasting prawns served in the cocktail glass. It was so good we ordered two more glasses to go and there was no room for dessert. The night was fun in great company followed by a trip to the supermarket for some late night grocery shopping. Manal is off to Mauritius with her family for a holiday in a few hours, Selom is headed back to Ghana in the morning. It is 2 am, time for a snooze.

Day 2: Waking up after 1 pm, there wasn’t much time for business so a trip to Dubai Mall would give the holiday makers Robair and his mother an opportunity to buy the things they want as I tag along.  My purpose begins on Day 3!  The 6-hour walk around the mall ended with a lovely must have meal at the Cheesecake Factory. Ordering what I always order from this restaurant. Its 3 am, lets get some sleep.  Tomorrow the real work begins!!!  However I must say today I made an observation that really disgusted me.  Maybe I am jumping to conclusions but I asked Robair why he thought too and he had the same view as me. This is what happened. When we got to the mall, mum wanted to use the restrooms so we stood outside a shop waiting. Robair and I were both on our phones trying to connect to the free Wi-Fi when two African men walked up to us and wanted to take a picture with us. We thought that was really weird but hey! So one of them was to take the picture and then swap. As they were decided who would take the first picture, they spoke Twi. There and then Robair and I laughed and told them we were Ghanaians too but they couldn’t believe it. So I spoke Twi with them and asked them if they were on vacation too or if they lived here and they said they lived here and work at the airport. Now we were happy to meet them but guess what, they weren’t so excited anymore when they realized we were Ghanaians. To me, that was extremely pathetic.  When we looked like cool foreigners, with curly Afros, sleek glasses, nice outfits, smelling attractive, holding a skateboard, a SLR camera hanging around the neck and screen touching iPhones we were great for a photo moment but the moment we were Ghanaians like them, they were not interested.  What I found pathetic was the importance they placed on foreigners at that moment. Displays of self hate. We on the other hand thought being Ghanaians would have even be a good moment to build a rapport.  A few hours later whilst I was taking a picture of a Socks Store simply because I have a desire to own a Socks Line one day, a young man who was sat near the store asked me to take a picture of him too.  I thought that was random but said ok.  After I took the picture of him and his friend he asked me how he would get the pictures and I said I could put it on Instagram and tag him.  He was happy to hear that so we exchanged Instagram handles and followed each other.  It was then I found out he was part of a Hip Hop Dancers Group and then we took a few more photos 🙂



Day 3:  Waking up was a struggle, but Robair made sure I did.  Hoped into the car and made our way to the Dragon Mart.  First time going there, lets see what Think Mahogany will come out with 🙂

Four hours of a selection of vases, flowers, electronics, a steakhouse sandwich, French fries and strawberry drink later we are ready to go back to the hotel to meet mum. I thought whilst she was in the Hotel all day, she would take advantage of the warm Swimming Pool, Jacuzzi, Steam Room, Sauna but no! She spent all day in bed watching TV, something she already often does at home. I wont even question her about that. We attacked the left overs in the fridge and jumped into a Taxi for some late shopping in Deira Market. We took a Taxi due to the limited parking at the Market. Met up with my Indian market friend Niyas who took us to the specific shops we needed to get to. Robair crushed out for 20 minutes in the taxi and when I asked why he was so tired, his answer was, driving in Dubai wears you out. You need double concentration to drive in Dubai due to the manner in which other road users drive. They are very aggressive, swinging between lanes almost without looking over their shoulder. They apply their brakes extremely late and they think they are racecourse drivers in their minds. You often hear the sound of sport car engines zoom past you and you cannot help but respect the speed but when the lower class cars swing past carelessly; you just wonder what the accident rates are. However they seem to understand each other on the roads.

Day 4: Dubai Road and Transport Authority have put in place access to taxis, which are always available, there is a great metro system that takes you to 48 locations around Dubai, there is the sky bus which costs AED 15 from the airport to the city, dropping its passengers off to around 150 hotels around Dubai which is a door to door service. In addition to the ones mentioned, there is the Dubai Tram which is great for going to the beach and the various restaurants and attractions in the Palm Jumeirah. Then the marine services which are quite interesting and takes you to many touristic areas. These include Dubai fairy, waterbuses and the traditional mode of transport which is called Abra, an old traditional means of water transport which was used to get to every city back in the 1960s which currently runs from two sides of the Creek, currently from Bar Dubai to Deira with a very small fair charge of AED 1 per passenger trip. The Nol Card is what is used in England called the Oyster Card and you can make a daily or weekly or monthly top up to pay for Metro and Bus journeys around all 7 zones in Dubai. The Nol Card can also be used to pay for Taxis and the Tram. The transportation system is integrated and safe. The Metro fares in Dubai is apparently one of the cheapest in the world. There is a smart phone App called the Smart Taxi which can be used to book taxis very easily and it stores your last few taxi trip journeys, the taxi registration details, etc… Then you ask: why the hell did we rent a car at AED 200 a day with Excess of AED 1,500? A very expensive mistake and learning experience. If you ask me, I will never rent a car again in Dubai. We got the rental car at the airport, which worked out four times more expensive than booking the rental car online. It is just a very unnecessary loss of peace of mind and tensed responsibility. This almost ruined our vacation/business trip but I told myself I am not going to think about it. I would just say, I lost my wallet full of cash on the trip.

We went back to Dragon Mart to place some orders for Think Mahogany and when we got back into the parking we noticed a hit and run situation. Someone scratched the lower right side of our rental car and left the scene. There goes our Excess and now starts the decline of our trip’s delight. We went on to Dubai Mall to watch the Water Show in front of the Burj Khalifa and then had iHop for dinner. Its crazy how every night in Dubai we have had food from an American Chain Restaurant. P.F Chang China Bistro, Cheesecake Factory and iHop. Think Mahogany Orders started getting delivered tonight. Now the real work begins. Sourcing the goods is only a mind blowing learning task. Having the purchasing power is a challenge but accepting deliveries, checking the quantities and qualities delivered against the order and then repacking for successful shipment is the real work. Finding the right logistics for sending and receiving the goods into its new home, all very draining!

Day 5: Spent all day checking the Think Mahogany Goods like I mentioned in Day 4. Whilst I was doing this, my mother went shopping at the Mall of Emirates and Robair went swimming and then enjoyed the Sauna/Steam Room. You would have thought they would offer help! Rolling my eyes!!! Robair then had to obtain a Police Report for the car accident and this additional highly avoidable stress ruined his vacation, I would say. On the day of the accident when he went to the police at the Dragon mart, even though he had his driving license and car registration document, they would not give him a report without his passport, which was in the hotel room. The police offer also refused to rewind the security camera to see what happened because he said it will take too much of his time. How unhelpful! We tried calling the car rental company numerous times and there is never an answer on their so-called 24 hours customer service line. So today, he went to the nearest police station with his passport and all other documents just to be told the computer system is down so they can’t help. How is this a reminder of being in Ghana? I always say Arabs, Indians and Chinese people behave like Africans. That’s my observation. No matter where they are, the behavior is the same! So he comes back very angry and takes a nap. Mum gets back from the mall with her new watch and another bag I didn’t ask about. Soon, I could smell an aroma I am familiar with coming from the hotel apartment’s kitchen and turns out the second bag contained fresh tilapias, pepper, maggie cube, mushrooms, onions, ginger, tomatoes, mash potatos and starch. She is making Fufu and Tilapia Soup! This woman! Even in Dubai, she must have her food ha ha ha. She said it is because Robair said he hadn’t had her home cooking in a long time. Spent the rest of the night in doors. After that sort of dinner, there is no other desire to do anything other than have a delicious Ben and Jerry Dessert and tacking yourself in the luxurious beds.

Day 6: Spent the day packing. Mum and I had a desire to go back to Deira Market but that was cancelled when Robair called to say he went back to the nearest police station just to be told the system is up and running however he has to drive across town to Dragon Mart for the report. Now he had had enough with the run around and so had I. After numerous back and forth calls to the car rental company and insisting that there was no way Robair is driving any further for a damn police report which is not going to make any change to whether or not we pay the excess but just fulfilling a requirement, we were not the least pleased. That was not how we hoped to spend our last couple of days in Dubai but oh well worse things happen.

At 7:30 pm we drove to the Marina Bay where Christine joined us for dinner on a boat cruise. Of course, it wasn’t completely what it was meant to be. Avia Tours advertised on the Cobone website that it was going to be a 2 Hours Dinner Buffet on a Luxury Glass Boat with spectacular view of Dubai skyscrapers for only AED 159 each. This would include, Arabic & Asian buffet dinner
- Unlimited Soft Drinks, mineral water, tea and coffee – Live Entertainment
- Soft music entertainment (Arabic and English). The Buffet menu listed: Ceasar Salad, Lettuce Salad, Again Salad, Hummos, Baba Ganuj Starter, Provencal Chicken Wigs, Fish Fingers, Cheese Rolls, Main Rolls, Fish with Lemon Sauce, Mexican Chicken, Paneer Bhurji, Oven Kafta, Shish Tawook, Live Pasta Station, Chicken Fried Rice Desserts, Mix Arabic Sweets, Muhalbya, Chocolate Cake, Fruits Salad Bread, Samoon, Toast and Khuboos.   That looks great right? We booked the tickets and 1: There was no live entertainment on board as advertised and the food was half even if, of what was advertised. There wasn’t any coffee. Such a basic requirement! None. No chocolate cake, etc… Basically it was false advertisement. When we aired our concerns to the woman who seemed like the manager on the boat, she said that’s not what the boat company advertises on their website so they have no control over what third parties/agencies advertise on their behalf.

Besides the rental car and police saga and the bad service from Avia Tours and Water World Tourism, I am just happy to visit Dubai. 200 different nationalities in a very Boutique place. Whatever I want to find to buy in USA, I can find in Dubai. Whatever I want to find to find in UK, I can find in Dubai. It is just a good place for me. The 5th most visited city in the world, ahead of even New York, a city I never liked. The world most 2nd import international shopping destination, recently Dubai International Airport overtook Heathrow Airport as the top Hub for international travel. This is in addition to having the world’s 9th busiest sea port, the world’s tallest tower and the world’s most visited lifestyle destination, the Dubai Mall attracting more visitors that Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and the Eiffel Tower yet two generations ago, Dubai homes did not have running water or electricity. There was no airport and there were no hotels and the only infrastructure was a Silked Clothed Creek in desperate need of repairs. Today, Dubai is a sought out destination, a connecting point with more than two million residents, 88% of whom are expatriates. Over 13 million tourists travel to see Dubai each year for themselves. The question is, how did Dubai go from a tiny insignificant village to a highflying global power house in less than 50 years??? It was under great leadership, leadership Dubai style, applying the habit of achieving remarkable success. The source of its success is from its oil revenue and Dubai didn’t discover oil until 1966 and even by then the now Dubai infrastructure was being built and put in place so the story of Dubai now actually begun at the inception of Dubai in 1833 when Maktoum Mumbai said “I want my people to have economic independence, I want them to be able to have their own form of prosperity. I want them to make a living the best way they can”. The same idea still applies to Dubai today. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rasha today is saying “We want everybody to come here to have the best living they possibly can”. Today, the oil that boosts Dubai only makes 5% of its GDP. Its airline industry makes more GDP than the oil GDP. Dubai lures people in by giving them a tax-free environment and these people have come to help boom the community. The simple practice of creating an environment where other people can succeed has made Dubai what it is. It faced a period that almost made them bankrupt but they quickly reverted to trading for rescue. The 1930s was a very tough period for Dubai but they pulled back through by reinforcing their strategies. So what is my country, Ghana’s plan for the future?

Day 7: I asked Mum why she never made use of her Hotel Spa facilities whilst I was working and she said there weren’t enough days! 6 Nights in Dubai not enough? I then asked Robair what are his thoughts of Dubai and he said it’s a nice place, he didn’t see the things he would have loved to see because of my business activities but he will certainly come back to visit the skate parks, sand board in the desert safari, go to the beach, go to the museums, go to the zoo, do water sports and more.

Ok, now that should tell you, to enjoy Dubai, you need more than 6 nights. Only if I were rich, I would stay longer and make wiser choices. I would set day for business and set more days for vacationing. It is all a learning experience, which I enjoy because it makes me knowledgeable and contributes to my life’s proficiencies.

We bid farewell at the airport after Robair returned the rental car Mum and I checked in, and we all grabbed a 5 am breakfast. Robair watched us walk through immigration from the other side of the glass. Its always a sad moment for me when I am parting from the ones I love so I never turn around to look back after I hug them good bye but mum turned around and said “he is still standing there” so we waved back good-bye and blew him kisses. With hope comes more beautiful days together so another ‘Family Hang-Out” should be planned and saved for soon.


I board my flight back to Accra and in my seat I reminisce on the trip’s activities, what to do and what not to do the next time and also very importantly asked myself how can I afford to come back soon for longer J and one of the answers to myself is work harder and smarter (as always) and to apply a strategy for that. I think my business can grow under great leadership and one day I may read leadership Dubai style for some tips but for now what I have observed and learnt is:

1 – Apply the strategy of achieving remarkable success.

2 – Help other people succeed.

3 – Stick to the strategy.

4 – Apply a very clear decisive leadership.

5 – Apply concrete execution.

6 – “Not to rely on somebody else’s word, go see with my own eyes”. Take ownership in wanting to see it grow! Micro monitor not micro manage.

7 – Interact more and move forward to perform better.

8 – The team has to know each and work together.

9 – Be a better leader.


Remember my opening chapter to this blog? “I know where I am trying to go to, I know what I want to achieve. We need to achieve it, whatever it takes but your team lacks the same passion…” If they wont help you grow, then clearly they wont make you happy. Does Success bring Happiness or does Happiness lead to Success? Happiness must come first in everyone’s life. Everyone needs to be happy. Happiness is a pre requisite to working hard and becoming successful in life. Happiness, Wellbeing and Success are the undermining elements to my every day struggle so if the people that I am on the journey with are not making me happy or even trying to make me happy, I ought to replace them! On Instagram this morning, my next favorite place to Dubai ha ha ha, I saw a post that said: “Stop trying to recycle what God is trying to replace!”




Add yours →

  1. I have to go back to’s been too long. Even after two trips, I know there is much more to experience. I think their rains start in January because it rained quite a number of days that month when I was.


  2. Now I’m looking forward to my Dubai trip gidigidi.


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