Cultural Post: The “Bubble” Life



As most days in the city of Dubai, it was hot and sunny and I was walking at the Marina promenade after a nice breakfast at a cafe in the area. And as I was lost in my own trail of silly thoughts – mostly about planning what to do next – a certain sight caught my attention and brought back intense and sad memories.

The image that made me look was that of a teenage girl wearing a loose fitting grey T-shirt and short denim shorts speeding away on a skateboard. While this could be a very ordinary sight for most people from Western countries, for me; this was nothing but a purely broken dream!

As a Saudi teenager living in Saudi, and at the same time being exposed to the Western world and lifestyle through TV, books, travel or the city’s expat residential compounds, I very badly wanted to own a skateboard and ride it somewhere (even if it’s in our house’s garden). I must admit that I was more of a tomboy back in those days. So being able to skateboard was my ultimate dream at the time. But because I was living in a country where you had to adhere to certain rules and regulations, and because I was the daughter of highly over-protective and controlling parents, my dream was buried and never saw life.

When I reflect on this incident today, as a 30-something year old Saudi living in the UAE, I can say that my restrictions have diminished, but surely haven’t been completely eliminated. I believe that even after our physical restrictions have been removed; in my case it was my parents’ controlling and over-protective behaviour, the effects and imprints of those conditioned beliefs continue to haunt us.

The ironic part of it is that I’ve seen this kind of unconscious attachment to restricting thoughts or actions in some of the people I have met who don’t necessarily come from strict countries or cultures. We all share one thing in common though, we were raised in a restricting environment, and have been trained to always act, behave or speak in a specific manner. We were always under the scrutiny of someone, whether it was our parents, spouses, family members or even the communities we lived in.

It’s astonishing how we continue to limit ourselves and our life experiences long after those boundaries and restrictions have been removed. Sometimes, our thoughts follow the same confining patterns that we have developed over the years. And it becomes almost impossible to break free from limiting behaviours and thoughts that we don’t agree with or want to possess.

After many years of being confined, oppressed, and judged for the simplest of things, an imaginary bubble is created. Sadly for some of us who have lived in that bubble for the most part of our childhood, adolescent and adult life, breaking away and bursting that bubble for good proves to be a highly challenging and time-consuming task.

Luckily, the Universe has helped me meet some good people – who later became friends – who share my “bubble” life story, can understand my struggles, and can strongly relate to my dreams and aspirations. Despite the fact that we are all still relatively living in that bubble, I believe that with the support of a strong social circle, we can all grow and evolve to become the free spirits that we were born to be.

Having said that, I’m not so sure how I would look wearing a casual T-shirt and hot denim shorts while skateboarding in my fifties! As it might take me a while to eventually get to that kind of personal freedom. I guess we’ll have to wait and see :)



An Evening of Art at the Brownbook Headquarters



When I saw an announcement on the Brownbook magazine facebook page about an event that they were hosting at their office in DIFC, I was determined to attend.

Brownbook is a magazine that covers a wide range of topics within its Middle-East region focus. As stated on their web site: “Brownbook takes on the task of reintroducing the Middle East to itself.”

The event consisted of two parts: one was the outdoor screening of the Brownbook Urban Series. Which is a showcase of video documentaries about prominent and inspirational individuals from the region. The second part involved a talk about an artist’s work and a presentation of his pieces.

As I was walking into the office, I almost tripped on the cable that was at the entrance to the ultra sleek and modern interior of the Brownbook office…I guess I was too excited to be that close to my dream career in lifestyle journalism! I loved the minimalistic approach to the design of the office. As well as the canvas paintings reflecting the UAE’s culture, decorating the walls.

What I didn’t predict was the fact that there was no one from the magazine team attending the event! Please correct me if I am wrong.

At the beginning of our meetup, we did a round and introduced ourselves and gave a bit of information about what we do…and as the majority of the attendants were from the art industry or somehow related, I found myself in an unforeseen situation. Not that I didn’t want to be there, it’s just that I wasn’t expecting an evening of pure art discussion.

Although I didn’t get to network with anyone from the Brownbook team (or any other publishing professionals), I am glad that I attended and that I can say that not only have I been to the magazine’s urban and cool office in DIFC, I have also had a discussion about art at their conference table 🙂

Now since my dad is in town, this happy go-lucky story must have a different twist to it. When I told him about my evening at the Brownbook hosted art discussion, his reply was: “so it was useless.” Or something similar.

I explained to him that he does not see the long-term vision of this event. The fact that I went out there and made an effort to attend an event and networked with others, and exchanged some business cards is a valuable experience in itself!

That although this time I didn’t get to meet any contacts from the industry that I am trying to get into, I must keep moving and continue what I am doing. Maybe on another occasion, I will meet a valuable contact or source of information that will lead me to the next step in my journey.

My dad was always obsessed with results. Unfortunately, that’s not the way that life works. It’s not magic! you have to put in a lot of time and effort in order to get the tiniest result. That’s when he said: “yes, it’s a mature market here and the competition is big.”

While my dad is focused on the destination (me getting a full-time role at a company), I have learned that I must enjoy the ride and take the time to go through every experience and develop and grow and learn from it.

I believe that the journey of self-development is an endless one. Whether you are working on your career, relationships, finances, or any other aspect of your life…you must continue to put in the right amount of time and effort if you want to improve your life and personality.

I am highly grateful for the opportunity that I have to experience a new way of life, to meet new interesting people, and to continuously develop and grow as an individual.

We all have personal spaces and limitations that we set for ourselves sometimes that could use some expansion. So get out there and make an effort to break a personal boundary at least once a week. You will be delighted by the freedom and positive energy that will replicate itself back on you.