When I was three, my tongue was introduced to the acrobatics of Arabic.
Our little family had moved halfway across the world to a city in the middle of a vast desert, called Dubai. Time has eroded my memory of this beautiful language. Suddenly a bright-eyed seven year old girl, I left Dubai for Turkey, replacing the deep music of Arabic with Turkish.
I remember the Dubai of my childhood faintly, but colourfully. I remember how the sand could be yellow, and at times orange. I remember the lonely two-laned highway that greyly stretched into the desert. I remember the smell of the oleander in our school yard, the taste of sugar can juice on my lips, and the paper-like bougainvillea that cascaded in a magenta waterfall from the tiny balcony of my bedroom.
Once, to my delight and fear, I discovered a colony of bees had built a home amongst the flowers, and the dread of getting stung was overshadowed by my curiosity and wonder at the day to day movements of the little insects. Inevitably, the day arrived when a man with a giant moustache and a knife came to remove my buzzing neighbours. I remember him as being tall and dark, with fiery eyes and a turban, his knife a gleaming machete— whether or not my imagination transformed his appearance into something of a mythical nature, I will never know.
I returned to Dubai when I was fourteen, and discovered that these storybook memories had been replaced by bright highways, cold steel and glass skyscrapers, and where the endless sand crept, green, green grass grew.
While I enjoy the free wireless at Doha International Airport, killing time before my connecting flight, I can't help but wonder what lies in store for me. I have followed the development of this ever-changing Emirate with my unchanging curiosity, and know that there will be little remaining, if any, of my childhood. The life I lived then has long since blown away with the sand, and I will very soon walk unfamiliar streets a woman, grateful for having known such extraordinary things.