It's winter in both countries now but the differences are huge. I can't get over how cold the water runs from the taps in the UK, even in summer just cleaning my teeth is sensitive and I swear it takes longer for the kettle to boil and food to cook and I defiantly couldn't dry clothes and when mopping the floor it seemed to take forever to dry.
I had no idea how to manage the central heating system. In Dubai you have instant cold air when it gets too hot. In the UK it takes forever to warm the house up.
Dubai - I can't cool down in summer without the air conditioning. I have to spray the car windows from the water bottle to remove the sand. The sea and tap water run at 36c+. It's impossible to have a cool shower.
From the outdoor tap June 2015.
UK - It takes ages to warm up in the UK, but I can do it with extra clothing and keeping active without the need for putting the heating on. It's not pleasant, but it is doable. I have to sit in a freezing car, pressing various alien buttons to defrost the windows and had to buy deicer and a window scraper to see out.
Both countries have their own style of driving, after 5 years in Dubai I automatically drive in both countries on opposite sides of the roads. I guess it's like learning a second language, it just becomes natural as you switch from country to country.
We have 16 lane highways, they are permanently congested, there is little lane discipline and indicators are rarely used. Parking spaces are huge as are most of the vehicles here. To get across busy junctions you have to drive by and do a U turn rather than trying to cross busy intersections. New roads just pop up over night.
Two years ago we drove across the desert to take a short cut to our house, we now have this.
Lanes are narrower and just as congested. Everything is in mph and I often wonder why it takes me twice as long to reach my destination, then I realise I've automatically assumed the signs are in kms per hour. I don't get confused with the speed limits as the vehicles for each country are in the correct format. Parking spaces are also narrow and far less available. I have to remember to put my own fuel in the car and go and pay.
I constantly think in Dirhams and convert all the time. I'm constantly surprised by UK prices as I haven't lived here for 9 years. It's all more expensive than I remember, but like I said it's been 9 years.
On walking into any store you are greeted and asked if you require assistance, even if you say no, you are followed around, goods taken to the till and automatically packed. I don't do online shopping in Dubai as I find delivery times are too wide and someone has to be at home to receive the goods. Most people have live in maids, we don't and I've often waited from 8am for a delivery that's arrived at 8pm.
Most small independent shops I walk into no one ever speaks. Trying to find an assistant in a supermarket or large store for help is almost impossible. Shopping online is easier, parcels will be left with neighbours or you can collect post the following day from the post office and it's easy online to rearrange a delivery.I do prefer wandering around the towns in the open air rather than be inside a mall all day although the views from the coffee shops differ greatly.
Getting things done.
It's just as frustrating in both countries.
It is easier to visit a branch, store to make a complaint or resolve an issue than it is to phone or email. We don't have street post delivery and the post can only be collected by Peter from his office, so if he is away I'm unable to enter the Freezone to find if anything has been delivered. All voice over internet is blocked in Dubai other than using an app which is expensive and uses up your mobile data as well as a monthly fee. It can take up to 6 weeks for post to reach both Dubai and the UK.
To set up utilities I was on hold with nearly every phone call for 20+ minutes before I was then transferred to the correct department. All emails sent stated a response in 2-3 days or even up to 2 weeks.
Dubai or the UK?
Well from next month I'll have the best of both worlds with a home in 2 countries. I found winter in the UK to be as unpleasant as summer is in Dubai. While my main residence will be in the UK I still ahve the advantage of making regular trips to Dubai in winter and have the best of both worlds.
In regards to getting things done, I'll just have to keep switching between my Dubai and UK brain, as I do when I'm driving and hopefully it will all become 2nd nature to me quite quickly.