There are certain life skills that we all need to learn when we arrive in Dubai. The ability to mind-read when driving would be a good example. How to do the school run in June without sweat patches showing through your clothes and how you need to turn on the hot tap to get cold water in summer.

When you’ve lived here some time, these things become normal – that’s life in Dubai.

I was reminded of a key ‘Dubai life skill’ that I’ve learned since moving here when I last had visitors here. As we drove to Dubai Mall, I asked my friends what they’d like for lunch – would it be something quick in the food court, maybe? A gourmet snack in Galeries Lafayete, or maybe a pizza down by Dubai Fountains? Why, they wanted to know: why couldn’t we just decide once we were there?

But you, lovely British mums, you know why I was asking, don’t you? Of course you do: I was asking because, like any smart Dubai resident, I like to practice tactical parking.

Who has hours to waste clickety-clacking up and down marble floors from shop to café to shop when you can park right where you need to be, and make it to school in time to pick up the kids. Who wants to be the red-faced mum skidding in late because they parked in Cinema Parking instead of Fashion Avenue?

Yes, tactical parking at Dubai Mall is a Dubai life skill. So what else do we need to learn when living here?

How to make sense of a movie plot that’s been cut to shreds by the censors.

How to shake off an aggressive tail-gater without ending up in jail.

How to eat a canapé while holding a clutch bag, a phone and a wine glass.

To avoid mentioning how sunny it is when talking to people back home.

How to spot your pre-booked Careem in a post-Ladies-Night sea of L-reg Lexus’s.

Which shoes to wear for a drinks party on sand (if not flats, wedges: you’re welcome).

How to tell the supermarket bag-packer politely that you’d rather pack your shopping yourself – in just one bag.

How never to mention your ‘live-in helper’ to your best friend (who’s a working mum of three) back home.

How to drive 1 kmph below the limit at which the speed cameras go off (cruise control, every time).

How to tell a taxi driver to stop speeding / get off the phone / drive the quickest route without infuriating him into driving even faster.

How to cook a crowd-pleasing Nigella recipe on a disposable barbecue in the desert (take pre-mixed G&T in a flask – it helps).

British mum Annabel Kantaria has lived in Dubai for a very long time and is the author of best-selling domestic thrillers Coming Home and The Disappearance. The One That Got Away is out in May 2017.
Follow her on Twitter @BellaKay; on Instagram: @dubaipix and on Facebook

[1] Coming Home
[2] Disappearance
[3] The One That Got Away

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Read more from Annabel:

Why Are We So Quick To Judge Each Other?

How not to get conned in Dubai

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