Lebanon might be home, but Dubai offers much more to these expats.
Greeting a Lebanese can get tricky. Should you offer a handshake or wait for a peck on the cheek? But before you decide, they will shower you with three pecks. Warm and friendly – Lebanese love luxury and Dubai is an apt place for them. UAE is home to around 1,55,000 Lebanese expats and they form the largest community of non-citizen Arabs in the UAE. Recently, an increasing number of students have moved to the UAE for better education and career opportunities.
Lebanese love to party or ‘barty’ as comedian Russell Peters would say. They are known as party animals. But, is it really true? We ask a 22-year-old marketing professional. Coming from the party capital of Lebanon, Beirut, she loves to dive into the night scene of Dubai. “Dubai has a great nightlife – I couldn’t have asked for more. The vibe of Dubai is similar to Beirut – we visit a new place, every weekend. We’re spoilt for places, the city has so many spots to offer.”
Lebanon might be home, but Dubai offers much more to these expats. Zahi Bsaibes, a sales specialist at an MNC came to Dubai two years back to advance his career. “The economy of Dubai is much better and we get to work with the experts in the industry. Everything is larger here (than Lebanon) – expansion plans, clients, technology, and innovation – I came here to grow.” With a spark in his voice, Zahi adds that he likes the fact that he is adding to the economy. “I feel great to contribute towards the growth of Dubai.”
Rawad Khattar came to Dubai four years back from Saudi Arabia. Career prospects brought this communication expert to the city and he swears by the exposure the city has to offer. “The experience you get in Dubai can be compared to working in key markets like Europe, London or New York. Dubai is a good platform if you plan to move to any of these countries in the future.”
Human resource professional Rosine Saad considers Dubai as a cultural hub and can’t stop marvelling about the mix of expats in the theatre scene in the city. With an inclination for acting and script writing, Rosine came here in 2012. Finding pleasures in small things, she loves the fact that she doesn’t have to drive (anymore), as the Dubai Metro is her best bet. Talking about the art in the city, she says, “Every community gets a platform to showcase their heritage. Dubai needs to work more on the local talent, rather than bringing more from outside. There is a lot that happens at the grassroots level, which needs attention.”
Ask them “What do you miss the most about Lebanon?” and pat comes the reply, “Food.” All of them spoke about how food connects them and how they can’t wait to go back and eat home-cooked food. Shawarma, Kibbe Nayye, Tawouk, Knefe, Lahme Bi Ajin .their list goes on. And it’s not just a craving for food, but also the time spent in souks, cafés, and restaurants with families and friends. Rawad shares most of his friends from the university days have moved to Dubai for better career breaks – they make sure to tempt others to follow suit. They relive the days spent in Lebanon by engaging in activities from back home. “We go desert camping or ski diving, plan BBQs, and visit the beaches. It ensures that we stay connected.” His family plans to move to the UAE soon. After all, Dubai offers everything you need – a good life, security, good lifestyle, and opportunities.
We are trilingual
Majority of the Lebanese are trilingual – they speak English, Arabic, and French. Alongside English, French is the second language of Lebanon and is often used as ‘prestige’ language for business, government, and diplomacy purposes.
French was used in Lebanon from the time of French Crusade. As of 2004, almost 20 per cent of population spoke French on daily basis. Following Arabic, French is taught as a second language in schools. The Lebanese-French mainly consists of intertwining French and Arabic words together. The pronunciation varies, to give it a Middle-Eastern feel. Like, the use of round Rs and strong As and Os.
It is commonplace to spot French words on bank notes, road signs, public buildings, and vehicle registration in Lebanon (alongside Arabic). Among the educated youth, the use of Arabic is on a decline, as they prefer to communicate in French and English.
World’s oldest city
Byblos in Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 26 miles north of Beirut is one of the oldest, living cities in the world. “Byblos” is the Greek name; the city was known as “Gebal” to the Phoenicians and it was called “Jubayl” in Arabic. Byblos has been a continuous city for about 5,000 years, with sufficient evidence to certify its existence. According to the ancient writer Philo of Byblos, the city had a reputation in antiquity of being the oldest city in the world. Today, Byblos is a progressive city that has embraced its cultural legacy. It is re-positioning itself as a premiere Mediterranean destination on the tourism map.
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