Freelance writer Becky Wicks is one of those people brave enough to actually take such voyages, and her sense of adventure eventually lands her in Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates.
Burqalicious is the result of her two and a half years spent in the seaside, sand covered city during its rapid transformation from small port town to a bustling, luxury metropolis attempting to attract young business-minded expats like Becky. Over 600 of her diary entries have been whittled down to book size to provide an entertaining, diverse chronicle of life in one of the world’s most unique cities.
Becky’s background as a writer shows- she has a fluid, consistent tone. From the moment she lands in Dubai she provides us with excellent insight into her new surroundings:
‘[Dubai is] growing at the speed of light. Everywhere you look there are cranes, construction and boarded up sites concealing absolute chaos. But rising like a phoenix from the flames, every few metres is a building of such majestic beauty you can barely believe you’re allowed inside.’
Becky is one of the expats lucky enough to be doused in luxurious cruises, parties and daily launches. The opportunities for indulgence are unimaginable- think twelve hour, all you can eat buffets.
Though deeply impressed with her new home, there are of course difficulties adjusting, from the oppressive heat of the Middle East to acclimatising to the deeply conservative culture of Dubai. There is government censorship of media, bans on showing to much skin, and the possibility of jail time for those who show too much public affection. There are also some unavoidable truths about the human and environmental cost of such dramatic expansion.
Yet it’s not a deep cultural or social analysis, so steer clear if that’s what you are after. Instead this is the story of Becky’s relationship with Dubai, as funny as it is engaging. What’s admirable is the level of honesty when she discusses some of her missteps and questionable decision making, born from the difficulty any young western professional would have in getting used to some very restrained moral and legal strictures.
The most thought provoking section of the book is the final chapters, when Becky comes face to face with some personal truths about herself and her time in Dubai. Just as the economic bubble starts to burst for Dubai, it seems to burst for Becky too.
Part journal, part travel memoir, Burqalicious is an entertaining and funny look at the life of an expat in one of the most interesting and unique places on earth.