“I realised I wanted to change the perception of the Middle East and Muslims”
I moved to Dubai in the early autumn of 2013. After moving to the Middle East, I realised I had a lot of misconceptions about not only the Middle East but also about Muslims. I would read comments about Dubai and realised it wasn’t juat myself who had these misconceptions but many people in Western countries. It made me realise I wanted to write and use social media to help change those perceptions. Writing about what it was like living in the Middle East and places to go.
MY FIRST TIME IN DUBAI
I’d initially moved to Dubai after leaving my job in London and teaching English in Japan. I wasn’t happy in Japan and after speaking to a friend, who was living in Dubai at the time, they told me, “I think you’ll love it here in Dubai!” They helped me get an interview and before I knew it! I was packing my stuff and jumping on a plane. I quickly fell in love with the city, started learning about the culture and now couldn’t imagine living outside of the Arabian Gulf.
As the plane started to descend into Dubai and for the very first time I saw the Burj Khalifa sparkling in the sunlight. The dusty sands blowing across the new landscape. The excitement of being in a new city tingled through my body. My eyes lit up as the skyline came closer before me as the plane came into land.
I grabbed my suitcase and jumped into a taxi, passing by in awe at all the tall skyscrapers. They were the highest I’d ever seen and shimmered in beautiful hues of blues, pinks and oranges from the dusk. I’ll never forget this first journey through Dubai.
For the first couple of months, I was full of wonder. I loved everything about Dubai and blew through my savings wanting to try everything possible! If there was a new restaurant or a new experience I was there! I spent way too much money in those first few months but I definitely had a thirst to discover the whole of the city. I went dune bashing, I lounged in five-star hotels but aside from that I began to meet for the first time practising Muslims. Despite coming from a multi-cultural city, I’d never really had a conversation with a Muslim or ever really got to know someone who was.
After a while, people began asking me about the best places to go in Dubai. Friends always wanted advice on the newest places opening and initially, my blog started as a guide to Dubai. Since people would always say to me, “you know the best places to go.” So making a blog totally made sense.
DANNI B IN DUBAI WAS LAUNCHED
It was 2016, originally the blog was focused on all things Dubai. There was also some elements of travel but mostly focused on what to do inside the UAE. From the beginning, I had a desire to dispell the myths about Dubai and other Muslim countries. What it was like to live or travel in them. I found many people in Western countries thought it wasn’t safe for women or that the Middle East was hostile to foreigners and their culture. Yet my experience was completely the opposite and most countries in the Middle East, especially the Arabian Gulf. Are actually safer than the majority of western cities.
I REVERTED TO ISLAM
Then in 2018, I made an even bigger change to my life by becoming a Muslim (also known as a revert to Islam.) I knew many people wouldn’t understand why a western woman would practice such a faith.
This made me realise my blog could have an even bigger purpose while still continuing to dispell myths about the Middle East. I first started learning about Islam in 2016 when I met an American revert. We both had a passion for travelling. After meeting in Dubai, we travelled to Jordan together (which is another amazing country to visit FYI.) She opened the door to myself starting to learn about Islam and like myself was raised Christian.
At the beginning I thought she was crazy to convert to Islam. I never saw myself becoming a Muslim until I started to actually learn about the religion. Christianity had left me feeling disappointed and I assumed Islam was just the same.
It took me a long time to finally accept Islam. I went on a journey of listening to the stories of reverts and others Muslims. Before finally meeting people in my local Islamic centre in Dubai. After a few months of learning more I was finally ready to say my sharharda.
DANNI B IN DUBAI EVOLVED
I decided to keep elements of my original blog with guides to Dubai, for those wishing to visit the city but also to continue dispelling the myths of Middle Eastern people, Muslims and Middle Eastern countries. Creating guides and useful resources for those who are curious about the Middle East or planning to travel to the region. Here you’ll find lots of resources to help you with moving to the region or travelling within the region.
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