So, I’ve been giving it some thought lately (mostly because I’ve been feeling pretty homesick) and just for the sake of my conscience, I’ve been trying to concur an evaluation – weighing the pros and cons of both cities. However, when it boils down to it, Toronto and Dubai are two very different cities (externally, generally) but they do share many similarities. For example, there are probably as many Arabs here as there are in Dubai, the Lebanese food here is crap in comparison undoubtedly, but there’s something about the Saudi’s in their Canada Goose jackets that just reminds me of home. Toronto has incredible summer weather (ranging from 20 ℃ to 30 ℃) whilst
‘warm’ or ‘hot’ are understatements for Dubai’s summer weather (goes up to 50 ℃). But, everything is centrally air-conditioned and Dubai winter can be compared to Toronto’s early fall, and Toronto winter.. Well, that’s an entirely different story.
Toronto: 0 Dubai: 1
Nobody knows how taxes work in Dubai, because there aren’t any. When I first came to Toronto I had no clue how taxes worked (until much later I realized that 0.13% of how much you spend is added onto the ‘before tax’ equation leading to a ridiculous sum that you have to pay) and yes, tax return may exist but it’s still a hassle and somewhat of a buzzkill. In terms of taxes, Dubai evidently wins this one. In terms of lifestyle, a luxurious money-oriented lifestyle is obligatory in Dubai, at least for the majority of residents. If you don’t have money, you’re nobody. I don’t particularly appreciate that sort of mindset, I mean luxury is great – who doesn’t want a $500,000 car and a $2.8 million apartment that overlooks the Persian gulf? However, it’s not a necessity. I’m more fond of Toronto because of this, everyone is equal. Of course people have money here, but people respect you more for what you do, and for your abilities rather than how much money you have in the bank, or whether you wear a Patek Philippe or a swatch.
Toronto: 1 Dubai: 1
Another characteristic that comes to mind when seeking differences between the two is people. You’re treated exceptionally differently in both cities, and you treat others differently too. Canadians are generally polite, well-mannered, decent people (minus the few assholes you come across) working in a restaurant for the last three months has shown me how respectful and appreciative people can be for your hard-work and efforts. However, in Dubai, nobody gives a shit to be completely honest with you. Tips are considered optional, as are ‘thank yous’. People who work in the hospitality or service industry are considered as the lower-working class and even expats who come from places like the US and the UK eventually succumb to treating those in the service industry in a demeaning manner, you adapt to the different norms wherever you are. Due to these differences, people believe they can treat those ‘lesser’ than them like shit, with absolutely no remorse and no regard – however in Canada, it’s completely different. I adapted to the snobbish, pretentious-like qualities that people possess back in the Middle East, but it definitely made me unattractive – and I still get along better with people from back home.
Toronto: 2 Dubai: 2
I’ve always believed Dubai to lack anything authentic culture, it’s ‘cool’ to try and adapt to the ‘lochal‘ life-style whereas in Toronto cultures are divided and each area has it’s own unique feel due to the accumulation of one ethnicity (e.g. Little Portugal is literally, little Portugal). Toronto is known as one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, and Dubai brims with Indians, Pakistanis, Persians, Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Arabs of all sorts and then you have the splatters of expats here and there – but as I said, if you’re not Emirati you’re not an equal. Also not to mention Dubai’s double standards regarding religious norms – No public displays of affection but a blind-eye is turned to it’s nightlife. Four years in prison if you’re caught with marijuana, but we all know who can bend those rules. I don’t even want to get started on the idiocy of Shariah Law – I do find it disturbing, this is my own opinion. Dubai may be ‘the land of opportunity’ but you, yes you without an Emirati passport, you don’t matter one bit. Toronto provides you with the greatest opportunity – freedom. You can be whoever you want to be, with no judgement or chains to prevent you from doing so (especially no dickhead ‘shoortas’ in their lambos). Let’s not forget Toronto’s endless things-to-do on a daily basis – concerts, shows, TIFF, Nuit Blanche, Luminato etcetera.
Toronto: 3 Dubai: 2
Yes, shopping is way better in Dubai. Shopping in Toronto sucks, unless you’re a hipster or into the vintage thing.
Toronto: 3 Dubai: 3
So, we’re at a tie and I’ve run out of generic, generalized points to consider for evaluation. Now when it really comes down to it, I live in Toronto completely alone. I am alone and I have no form of comfort whatsoever. In Dubai, I have a home. I have a sense of security, I can feel and be a child – I don’t have a worry in the world. Yet here, being in the ‘real world’ I’m constantly on my feet, I worry easily, I am completely and utterly independent. Sure, it’s a great feeling to be able to fend for myself – but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t mind being able to order some Zaatar w Zeit, watch a film at Mercato and grab a ‘little mermaid’ crepe and cruise around.
I can’t wait until December.