2 parts timing + 8 parts social media + 10,847 parts divine favor = one amazingly ratchet affair of young professionals wreaking havoc on the United Arab Emirates and its citizens.
Lemme explain. Christmas 2014 Eithad Airways experienced a computer glitch where my friends and I all got $178RT tickets (some weren’t lucky and had to pay $250, ha tough life.) from NYC to Abu Dhabi. There was of course lots of excitement, lots of heartache (from those who didn’t check their phones in time and missed the deal) and lots of worry as my mother and sisters were concerned that I’d be knocking on ISIS’ back door.
Fast forward 2 1/2 months and 11 friends and I were setting out on an international adventure. I’ve debated on figuring out the best way to present this trip to you and I’ve decided to portray my trip to you in the most creative way possible – a timeline. <<< Insert your snarky comment about my lack of creativity here. Let’s begin.
4:11 p.m. – We get our Lyft driver to practically leave our destination and turn around and go back to the house since Sarah left her make-up and flat-iron… Women. -__-
7:33 p.m. – a mother and her grown child sit next to me on the Megabus and I am forced to breathe in the fumes emanating from his diaper. Any moments of slumber I wanted to have while breathing through my sweater were lost as he felt the need to kick me each time I approached stage 2 sleep.
11:57 p.m. – after drinks in Times Square with a few friends (you know, the salty ones who weren’t going to the Middle East with us), we called it a night.
2:16 p.m. – We started the hike of carrying all of our baggage to… B.R.O.O.K.L.Y.N. (for those of you unfamiliar with NYC, this is about an hour on the train, not including the treacherous walks to/from the station)… Did I mention that there was a huge snow storm during this time in NYC and the inches were steadily falling as we tried lugging our bags, umbrella and Chipotle?!
7:11 p.m. – somehow we all miraculously synchronized our clocks to NOT run on ‘CP Time’ (absolutely dying that this term has its own Wikipedia page) for this one (and only) event and made it to JFK three hours before our flight.
10:22 p.m. – of course our flight is delayed. It doesn’t matter. We ran into Ansel Elgort (at least we’re pretty sure) by the Shake Shack in terminal 4. We’re pretty confident it was him because 1) his leather jacket looked expensive and was tailored just right, 2) he was super tall and had dreamy hair, and 3) he fashionably drove up to the Shack in the carts typically reserved for the elderly. We made enough commotion for him to glance at us as we embarrassingly and obviously held our phones out to compare the Google images we found to the face standing three feet away from us, but I was told not to make matters worse by asking if he was famous and getting a groupie photo with him so we will never really know if it was him or not… but it was. Trust me.
12:02 a.m. – we’ve been on the plane for about an hour as there’s excess baggage, delays, and tons of de-icing to do (mind you, we were supposed to take of at 9:55 p.m.). Either way, I was just grateful they were taking their time as NO ONE wanted this plane to end up like the one that skidded off the runway at LaGuardia earlier that day.
1:34 a.m. – shot a quick text to my sister to let her know that Whiplash is an amazing movie (yes, I finished an entire movie on the tarmac) that she should watch and that we’re FINALLY taking off!
11:42 p.m. – we’re safe and sound (Dubai is 8 hours ahead) && spend way too much time buying bevvys in duty-free as we prepare for the upcoming turn up.
3:51 a.m. – after documenting our hotel rooms and proving that we’re still alive on Snapchat (I wish I could just upload my snap story, would’ve been much easier than you reading all of this.. If you’ve made it this far and are still reading, I’m honored) we take a nap as we prepare for our sunrise tour of the Burj Khalifa.
5:48 a.m. – the quartet (three of my line sisters [Fox, Jas n Sarah] and I) headed to the Burj Khalifa to see it at sunrise. It was a good idea of mine. Everyone stated as much. Clearly ppl should listen to me more often. #justsayin
1:38 p.m. – we board our private yacht. [1) CP time was abound, we were supposed to leave the marina at 1, and 2) I’m not bougie but have bougie friends] and are taken around the city to the tunes of Fetty Wap, Drake and other lyricists. Mind you people were surprised I jumped into the water (I can’t swim), but the life vest game was on point so I had no worries. I was more perturbed by the multiple champagne showers of Moët that my male friends felt the need to give. In my opinion, Moët is a liquid that is meant to be consumed not used for its visual appeal on social media (Korbel exists for a reason!); however, I’ll admit their flexing was worth it, so good job boys.
4:28 p.m. – while lounging on the boat, I made best friends with Kelly (an expat who works in Dubai) and she has decided to take me under her wing and give me her tips, tricks n tidbits on securing a job abroad. #NetworkingNeverSleeps
11:53 p.m. – we arrive at WHITE Dubai and it was pretty amazing. Girls drank for free and the pass back of LIITs to the boys was abound. The rooftop club gave me a New York vibe as it is a hybrid of a House themed, Hip Hop music party full of people who moonlight as models in their spare time. The only difference from NYC is that no one twerks… like nobody. So it was interesting to see a bunch of Americans who typically twerk to Juicy J and Beyoncé frantically swaying their hands and bodies to the beat instead of twerking to fit in. I’ve found a good default for most friends (&& myself) was to scream and shout into their phones and Snapchat a video to portray their fun since they can’t shake their @$$ like they normally do. Oh. There was also a Beyoncé impersonator who did a medley of her entire latest album… o_0
2:56 a.m. – I made friends outside of the club (two brothers Faisal & Saeed) where we discussed their multiple pairs of Balenciaga shoes, the black convention happening in Dubai and places to eat at 3 in the morning. I clarified to them that we were not here for a black convention (they’ve never seen so many non-African black people in the city – like ever), but that a black focused social media account spread the news of a cheap flight to the UAE, hence the influx of black tourists. They then told our cab driver where to take us for good food at this hour and we all parted ways…
3:14 a.m. – …or so we thought. The brothers show up a few minutes after us and took control of the entire situation. They sat at our table and started ordering EVERYTHING. Plates and plates and plates of lamb, chicken, pizza, fries, humus, falafel, pita, etc. There were 11 of us. Enough food came out to feed 30.
3:52 a.m. – Faisal snaps. “Am I a dinosaur?!” he exclaims. “Fossil.. fossil… I am not a T-Rex. My name is not fossil, it’s Fay-zel.” We took a moment to learn how to properly say his name.
4:22 a.m. – a guy friend explains he feels like a mitch. Reason being, Faisal doesn’t understand why we’ve all but stopped eating and plates are still coming out. “Keep eating!” he exclaims. Guy friend has stated he’s never eaten this well in his life and wants to keep eating to remember this day even though there’s no space left in his stomach. Somehow he finds room to eat a few more plates to please Faisal, fulfilling his mitchy ways.
5:51 a.m. – after eating enough food for a week Faisal passes his card to the waiter and pays the bill without really looking at it. Mitch friend rejoices. Jas and I share a look of relief. We were all wondering how exactly this bill was going to play out because before the brothers showed up Jas and I were going to split a humus and bottle of water and call it a night because that’s all we could afford!
6:24 a.m. – we make it to our hotel room as the sunrise is almost complete and reflect on our random family meal and the DuBaes that Fox n Jas (Saeed and Faisal respectively) acquired.
12:38 p.m. – we head to the desert. If you go to Dubai (or anywhere), don’t get a Groupon for this activity (or any activity worth doing). The experience is not worth skimping. Whatever you do, just review BEFORE you buy (we all ended up losing $30 because the Groupon we purchased turned out to be a dud).
1:14 p.m. – instead of doing cool tricks on our 4x4s, we’re focused on taking the BEST possible shots for Instagram (what our generation has been reduced to lol).
2:01 p.m. – we spend the day joy riding in the desert, taking scenic pictures, viewing belly dancers, getting henna, riding camels – typical desert activities. We also befriend these two women from Norway (one a nurse the other a teacher) who were jealous of our youth and carefree lives. They stated if they didn’t have kids they’d love to travel more often… <<< See. Children are leeches. I’ve said this time and time again and nobody gets me.
11:08 p.m. – everyone wants to rally. We are clearly tired and forcing an outing, but because we’re “not always in Dubai” we head to Cavalli. Beautiful venue. Boring night. Faisal warned us to not go here (especially on a Sunday of all nights geez!). While it was a pretty blah evening, I was coached by the ‘always camera read duo’ Johnny and Rachel on how to properly smize. After spending 35 minutes trying to learn how to do this.. I’ll stick with smiling with my mouth.
[HONESTLY… the trip is so so after this. (Sarah thinks I’m belittling our “this is a rapper’s dream” trip when I’m not…) If you want to tap out here I understand and appreciate your patronage.]
1:12 p.m. – after walking around for an hour and some change Sarah, Fox, Deonta’ and I were going to call it quits and head home since we couldn’t find the beach and the rest of the gang. Yes, it sounds absurd that we couldn’t “find the beach” but when your friends send cryptic directions and turn off their phones to avoid international data charges and an 11 minute walk turns into a 90 minute ordeal you get annoyed.
2:36 p.m. – the group buried Sarah in the sand and made her a man… just let that marinate.
3:13 p.m. – Sarah and I decided to let some friends be guest stars in our pop up music videos (we’re Snapchat famous). We are foolish, but the music video to ‘Know Yourself’ was an Insta hit. [The production team is trying to figure out how often to create these. You’ll see more of our work soon.] [[&& the reduced quality of this video is NOT because of my Android, but the app that made it!]]
4:55 p.m. – we head to Global Village. It’s the coolest/weirdest market I’ve ever visited. It’s a theme park featuring most of the countries of the world as an attraction and various performances featuring the country’s culture throughout the park. Inside the country they have vendors selling the souvenirs that you would typically want when visiting that country (hello Pharoah heads in Egypt and scented oils in Lebanon!). I was slightly (actually highly) offended that ‘Africa’ was a destination as there was no ‘Asia’ or ‘Europe’ but that’s another discussion for another day.
11:41 p.m. – groupthink permeated. My hotel room hosted a ‘party’ of sorts. This was a bad idea. 1) people do not listen when you say “don’t touch the mini bar” so at $8 a can, you’re surprised that you’ve spent +$50 on soda you never drank at checkout. 2) when some people want to play Uno and others want to make up dance routines to Beyoncé, there’s dysfunction on what the group should pay attention to. 3) when people drunkenly order room service and charge it to your room… it’s never good. 4) when friends of friends show up to your room and they’re ratchet and annoying and cause you to be slightly rude and snap, it makes you vow to yourself to never play ‘Never Have I Ever’ again in life.
6:23 a.m. – saw the sunrise again. This one was more out of tradition’s sake than actually being up from a fun night.
11:30 a.m. – had a photo shoot at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. It was ethereal. It was breathtaking. It was hot. Really wanted to recreate the group shots Ms. Gomez and the Jenners had, but I am neither rich nor famous and pretty sure my mom wouldn’t bail me out if I was arrested for being foolish.
2:39 p.m. – wandered around the Dubai Miracle Garden, for yet more Insta opportunities. It was really pretty, but felt like one of those weird places that’s supposed to be romantic and missed the mark – kinda like the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
8:03 p.m. – group dinner outside of the Dubai Fountain. We bonded singing the eclectic 90s throwback tunes the DJ kept giving us. We all just reflected about the trip and our slight ire towards Travel Noire for not featuring at least one of the gems that our group shared with the Insta world. I mean seriously. Some of the pictures they post are just absurd.
1:48 a.m. – Johnny and I made a promise that we’ll always have one real conversation every time we’re with each other so we did just that. We let Deonta’ and Raven guest share… It’s interesting to realize how little I know about the people I call friends (this is important because most people are acquaintances to me even if they’d call me a friend). I’ve had a strong desire to really get to know people lately. So, if we ever cross paths and I ask you a deep/probing/nosey question, it’s because I really do want to get to know you while also being nosey.
6:22 a.m. – last night and sunrise in the Middle East.
9:30 a.m. – had a traditional breakfast.. It looked visually appealing, but I was not a fan. What made the breakfast worth its fee was the presenter who talked to us about culture, global perception, the purpose of the hijab and any other questions we had on the region, its history and its wealth.
1:12 p.m. – spent the day wandering the souks with, Thank God. Yes. His business card said ‘Thank God’. Thank God is his government name. Thank God was great. Any who, he helped us haggle prices and get the best deals. He was awesome. One merchant event tried to kidnap Fox – ‘Thank God’ he was around.
5:17 p.m. – At this point the trip is actually taxing us and we’re dying. Food. Cab. Airport. Plane.
2:21 a.m. – passed out in the plane. Was supposed to take off at 2:55 a.m. Learned we didn’t really take off until after 4 a.m… it doesn’t matter. For the 13 hour flight I slept for about 12 of them. It was glorious. Since we only slept 18 hours (yes, we did the math) over the course of 6 days it was much-needed.
9:45 a.m. – land safely in JFK. Mom is happy (and asks if I bought her gold). All bags made it. All imported souvenirs made it to the states in one piece. Grateful for the trip. Grateful for the memories. Grateful if you made it to the end of this post!
– Until the next adventure with my Woes. xo
Songs of the Trip:
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