I don’t think anything prepares you for the final goodbye, and when it does come you always find yourself wishing you had more time to say all those things that were always understood but which somehow you never managed to say to the ones you care about.
I have been working in the Middle East for most of the past 12 years. First in Jeddah, then Riyadh, then Abu Dhabi and lastly in Dubai. It has been one helluva journey and I have met some wonderful people on the way and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
But the time has finally come when I am leaving the region and moving on to pastures new – in this case my new pastures are in Beijing, and if the visa comes through as planned I could be starting work there before the start of July.
Inevitably one looks back at the time one spent here, remembering mainly the good times, since the brain is very good at filtering out the bad; sure there were bad times, frustrating times, infuriating times… but all the good things have a habit of negating all those negative feelings.
Of course, there are some things I will certainly not miss – Dubai’s immigration officers, for instance (who have to be some of the rudest in the world); the RTA – Dubai’s public transport authority – who regular readers will know from my blogs are a total disaster area; the arrogance of some of the Emiratis; the hypocrisy that is so widespread across the entire region; the racism which is actually enshrined in law in many Arab states and which the Arabs should be thoroughly ashamed of….
I could go on; but why bother? For in equal measure there are all the good things about the region which is what I hope will stick in my memory. The tax free salaries; the fact that despite searing temperatures, it is always a pleasure to swim in the sea on any day of the year; the amazing shopping; the amazing lifestyle; the cheap petrol (in Saudi it cost around 6 pence per litre when I was there); and the fact that the Gulf is in the centre of the world in terms of getting almost anywhere you may care to go.
But it is my legions of fans that I will miss most of all – old and new; female and (a few) male. Oh OK, maybe not legions, but certainly a wonderful handful of Filipinos, Indians, Indonesians, Chinese, Americans, Canadians, Zimbabweans, South Africans, Swedes, French, Germans, Syrians, Lebanese, Saudis, yes, and even Emiratis, Irish, Scots and Sassanachs.
Hey guys I love you all and will surely miss you.
So as I sit in the airport lounge, I can hear a great wailing and gnashing of teeth going out from across the region. Come visit me in Beijing! Yes, all of you! Not Adieu but a grand Au Revoir. Until the next time that we all will get together…..