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With the option to work remotely, the Work Away Benefit at Media Profile has been a true blessing. My family was planning a trip to Dubai in December to escape the cold and spend time with my brother and sister-in-law. On a whim, I decided to use the $3,000 benefit to join them and work from Dubai for most of December, escaping the brewing Canadian winter to the hot sands of the UAE.

It was a breath of fresh air.

While there were definitely a few challenges—like being 8 hours ahead, meaning I started my work day when I’d usually be ending it— the flip worked well for me. My mornings and afternoons became my time to explore. 

One of the first things I did the weekend I arrived was check out the beach and watch the Emirati sunset with my brothers. It was a great start to the adventure. It didn’t take long for me to catch a bug and stay quarantined for a week, though. But despite falling ill, the sun and the warmth truly helped speed my recovery.

After I started feeling a little better, we all took a day trip into the desert to take in the sights. It marked my first time in an actual desert and it was a wild experience. I was captivated by the ripples of the sand, its softness and how challenging it felt to walk through. The moment made for a perfect Star Wars reference: “It’s coarse, rough and irritating…and it gets everywhere.”

But hey, the pictures came out nice.

One of the highlights of my trip was Al-Seef, an old town restored to its former glory. It was a great place to take an afternoon stroll and explore traditional Emirati architecture. You can find a range of boutique shops selling traditional crafts and souvenirs there, as well as excellent restaurants and cafes where you can relax and enjoy some local cuisine. I made sure to buy some bakhoor and oud from the stalls; the prices were very reasonable.

As a mountain-loving person, one of the few things I really wanted to do was hike somewhere in the UAE. Driving outside Dubai was an adventure on its own; some roads were covered in sand, while others were clean and well-maintained. There were pop-up cafes on the side of the highways like our ONroutes in Ontario, but they offered Middle-Eastern treats and snacks. We visited Hatta, which was almost a 2-hour drive from Dubai—the mountain views in the desert were glorious.

I ended my Work Away by driving to Abu-Dhabi and visiting the Louvre. With the most stunning design elements, the museum was truly an architectural beauty. Holding the likes of Monet, da Vinci, Van Gogh and more, the displayed artworks were world-class. I have a thing where I visit art museums, seek out sculptures carved by Rodin and take pictures of them—I’ve been slowly growing that collection over the past few years and will continue to keep that tradition going.

Overall, I spent my trip with my family at home, away from home. I visited the Dubai Mall several times to test different perfumes to add to my growing collection. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Dubai without a desert safari excursion—which I’ve realized is not my cup of tea. I ate a lot of incredible food and shared lots of laughs, all under the warmth of the December Emirati sun.

Curious to learn more about MP’s adventures abroad? Stay tuned for future Our Take #PassportToMP blog posts where employees will share their work away experiences.

Usama Khalid

Jr. Graphic Designer

#PassportToMP: The Benefits of Off-Peak Traveling
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