Exactly a year ago to this date, I boarded a plane to come back home to what I commonly refer to as my adopted homeland, which is the UAE. A lot has happened in the last 12 months, some of it bad, quite a lot of good things and many things that could fall anywhere in between the two depending on your outlook and perspective.
To give a bit of background, I left Dubai in October 2015 to pursue an MBA in sports management in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The decision was hard. I was leaving a relatively comfortable job that challenged me and paid me well, a comfort zone, a wide social circle, a running community I knew well, a city I knew by heart. Despite all of that, I needed a change. I wanted a new challenge in life, I craved a new scenery and a new city. Madrid offered exactly that. The weather was chilly for most of the year (in comparison to the gulf heat of course), the culture was new to me and fascinating, and it was a city I immediately fell in love with after running a marathon there back in 2014. It was charming and was a world away from whatever I was used to at ‘home’. The ten-month course was over in a flash and I moved to Jordan in September 2016 to be with the family (and our cats) while I figured out what to do next. By the time December rolled around, I was fortunate enough to land a new role in Dubai, and on Saturday, December 24, 2016, I was boarding flight EK 902 with a one-way ticket.
This was the third time I had moved countries in the space of just over a year, and I came back to a place that has not changed much, but it was not the same. I opted to live in a different area to the one I used to reside in for 8 years before leaving ‘DXB’, some friendships were not what they used to be, either by my choice, or they were decisions made by other people (probably for the best for everyone involved) and for others, we simply drifted apart. C’est la vie. For the most part, I have been more selective with who I spend my time with and who I befriend, and it has made a noticeable difference so far.
The key personal highlights of the year were mainly fitness related. My running form and performances have gone up a notch or two. Somehow, the year featured multiple podium finishes, most of which were based on age group (ah, the beauty of getting old), and a couple of them were overall podium finishes, albeit in races that were not well-attended. Add to that personal bests across almost all distances I ran, from 3k to a full marathon (except for 10-miles, a distance I only raced once this year in atrocious conditions). I got to run in Ras Al Khaimah, Salalah, Berlin and Abu Dhabi, ran two full marathons and four half marathons.
I met many great and inspiring people, most of whom are fellow runners and amateur athletes and warriors with boundless energy and motivation. The journey has led me to widen my social circle, learn more from people coming from all walks of life and to aspire to a better version of myself. It is truly inspiring to see how the city’s running scene has evolved in the last few years and the number of race options on offer every single weekend (sometimes there are more than 4 races happening over the course of a weekend).
On a personal and a professional level, I can say I am quite satisfied with the progress made this year. The direct family had some nasty altercations with our relatives in the summer, which led to the ceasing of most communication and family visits, which resulted in lower stress levels and less drama (always a positive when you have a bunch of ball-less men as your relatives). My father moved from Bahrain to Budapest, my elder sister’s PR and marketing consultancy is picking up pace in Amman and she’s getting more clients, the “baby” sister is 19 now and goes to uni and drives. How times have changed… I’d like to think I matured a little bit (not much) and that I am able to handle pressure and difficult people and/or situations better, but then again it could simply be part of getting older…
Bring on 2018.