Slovenes abroad: Crt, Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

Crt is a nice, interesting and quite a mysterious guy. From someone who has been leading a very exciting life in Dubai for the past 2 years, doing things that most of us can only dream of, I would expect an explosion of bragging and showing off. But Crt is nothing like that. He works hard and he is very good at what he does. And he still loves coming home to Slovenia.

Hi Crt, we made it, finally!

Yeah, my schedule is quite busy, as you have already figured out. Today I am here, tomorrow … who knows 😊

What does that mean, what is it actually that you do in Dubai?

I work on different projects, but most of my time is dedicated to playing ice hockey with Dubai Mighty Camels and photography.

So, again one of those typical stories that Slovenia doesn’t appreciate or can’t afford great talents?

To be honest, I can’t comment on the ice hockey part because I gave up my professional career in Slovenia very early due to my study and work. I did however keep in shape and ice hockey has always been a big part of my life, also in Austria and Germany where I lived for a couple of years – so I had no problem with joining Dubai Mighty Camels. Emirates ice hockey league is quite strong, there are players here from NHL, Canadians, North Americans, and some great players from Europe as well. But as far as photography is concerned, the fact is that Slovenia is a small country with a small economy, so the fees are much lower compared to the countries I worked in. Of course, there are some bright exceptions but not nearly enough to make a decent living for everyone in this business. 

Did you choose Dubai or did Dubai choose you? Was it hard to move here?

It was kind of mutual, some projects, events and moments added up so I didn’t hesitate much. Actually, moving here was not a question but a logical step in my career. Dubai is a great city with big opportunities for the ones who are willing to work hard.

What was the hardest part with the moving?

Oh, the bureaucracy … getting visa, medical exams, insurance, all the way to getting my driving license. These things take a lot of time and money. Your home country can actually make it a bit easier for you, however Slovenia is still quite behind. Our neighbors from Austria, for example, don’t have to go through the driving license procedure, and they are lucky, trust me.

Do tell…

Well, for one thing, it takes time and money – especially if you don’t make it in the first round. Which happens a lot. And on the other hand, Dubai is a big city with a lot of traffic and one-way roads so you need some time to get used to it. However, the roads are in great shape and the speed limits are very reasonable so everything runs surprisingly smoothly.

What is it that you like the most in Dubai?

It’s hard to choose just one thing. First of all, Dubai is very “open” city, more than 80% of the people here are expats, so hired workforce. Which means a lot of cultures, nations, beliefs, opinions, knowledge from all over the world. There is no space for prejudice, we are all here to prove ourselves, and to do so we need to blend in, we need to cooperate, and constantly strive for more and better. So it is really easy to make contacts and new friendships – you don’t have to explain yourself where you come from, what kind of car you drive, how much you earn.

The other thing I admire here is safety. Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world. For one thing, the locals respect their rulers very much, and that gives the right and “pure” mentality to the people. It is only logical that others (expats) will follow and since the law here is quite strict, no one even thinks of messing around. So, it can easily happen that you forget your wallet in an open car and it will stay there for days.  

How about Slovenes in Dubai, have you met anyone here, do you hang out?

There are quite a few Slovenes here, we also have a Facebook group and I know some of them from back home. But unfortunately, I still haven’t had the time to go to any event or meeting. I suck in this, I know.

What about your friends from Slovenia, do they come here for a visit?

Well, Dubai is not something like you would say “let’s go there for a weekend” so they aren’t exactly knocking on my door 😊 You know yourself that the flight connections are not exactly ideal and besides my schedule is so unpredictable that I can hardly promise to be available for anything more than a coffee break.

So, you don’t miss Slovenia at all?

Sure I do, I miss the fresh air and clean water. I miss the mountains and our beautiful Bled. That’s why I fly home as often as I can. In the winter to do some skiing, during the summer to escape the heat… and well, you know, there is always something that needs to be taken care of, always some good reason to visit Slovenia.

Since you have mentioned the clean water… what about the quality of Dubai food in general, do you cook at home or rather eat out?

The food in Dubai is fantastic. The choice of supermarkets and restaurants is limitless, and there is quality on every corner. Even in the most common places you can get great sushi or a delicious steak. Dubai is a mix of all world cuisines and since the competition is enormous, there is no space for average quality. I do cook at home from time to time, but I really enjoy eating out – I take it as an event, not only “feeding”.

And what about the prices? I know there was a lot of fuss about the new 5% VAT, has it impacted the prices a lot?

Sure people were talking about it, this is something new, especially for the locals – they were not used to VAT before. But I didn’t get the feeling that was an issue. It depends on your income I guess. 5% is not a lot compared to European countries, however for the low paid workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh or other less developed countries it is definitely a burden.

In general, Dubai is definitely not cheap. The rents are crazy high, not to mention if you want to buy a property. The land is like gold here. That’s why a lot of people live outside of the city which reflects in heavy traffic during the rush hours. Also, the prices in stores (food, clothes, etc) and restaurants are higher compared to Slovenia. It is logical to find sky high prices in high end places, but you can also find a decent meal for 2€, like anywhere else in the world.

Well, at least oil is cheap!

That’s true, one liter of oil costs less than 50 cents, which is almost 3 times cheaper compared to Slovenia. Also the majority of cars are cheaper, not to mention the insurance and road taxes.

What do you do in your free time?

Usually we hang out on the beach or go to the cinema. It is quite an experience to see a movie here, because Dubai theaters are equipped with the latest and very impressive technology. If I have more time I also like to get out of the city – there are some very nice desert safaris, or trips to the mountains of Ras al Khaimah, one of the emirates. I miss mountains, I was born and raised surrounded by them.

A classic question for travel blog: 5 things you need to see in Dubai? And please leave the good old fashioned Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa behind.

Legoland, Miracle Garden for nature lovers, picturesque Dubai Marina, Mall of the Emirates and Ski Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, most of the beaches … and of course seeing an ice hockey game in Dubai Mall is an attractive experience 😉

So, when is the next match, if I “happen” to be in the neighborhood? 😊

We are currently on a short break, the playoff starts in April. I think Dubai Mighty Camels has quite high chances of winning the trophy. You are more than welcome to come and see us, we can use all the support we can get! 😊

Photos: Crt Slavec (personal archive)

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