Enriching my culture

At the age of 22, I moved from Beirut to Dubai as a fresh graduate and began my career at Delta Partners. Moving out of my comfort zone was a decision I made during my studies, aiming to find better working opportunities, as well as start off a career and a life of my own. While I initially planned to move to Australia (without having sorted the details), I received an offer in Dubai that seemed a logical next step. What appealed to me was having the experience and exposure of being away from home.

As someone who greatly enjoys travelling, I realized early on that the Weekend Pack policy Delta offers is an opportunity to explore the world and cross countries off the bucket list I had envisioned as a student. When I first got staffed in Riyadh, I felt that I was stuck and wouldn’t be able to fulfill my passion of traveling, but as soon as days got busier, I took it upon myself to overcome all barriers including flights, tight schedules, and visa challenges. Much to my surprise, it turned out that you could make it to several destinations from Riyadh. In reality, it’s not as enchanting as Dubai, but with diligent planning, you could land in many countries and cities from the West to the East such as Paris, London, Georgia, Istanbul, Sri Lanka,  Kazakhstan, Singapore, and many more.

Big Almaty Lake, Kazakhstan

In my personal life, I felt enriched throughout my trips. I was able to meet new people and experience new cultures, make new friends or catch up with old ones living abroad, cross paths with celebrities like Nusret and Raul Di Blasio, participate in weddings far away from home, try out different kinds of food and experience exciting adventures while broadening my horizons.

Throughout my adventures, several funny/stressful stories occurred, and I would like to share some with you.

For instance, I’ll never forget the time when I went to the wrong terminal while already late to the airport and trying to make it for a weekend in Kazakhstan. Initially, I had booked the flight following one of my colleague’s random recommendations, I thought that it would be fine to miss my flight this time as “it happens…”, I managed to make it. Thankfully it turned out that Almaty is a perfect destination for adventurers. The region has one of the most beautiful natural sceneries that I have ever seen which made the trip well worth the chaos at the onset. From another perspective, the day I woke up in Singapore will always mark my memory. That day, I woke up cheerful, with a full list of activities such as a visit to the famous Marina Bay Sands resort, the Gardens by the Bay park or Sentosa island; yet, I realized a few moments later that a country-wide revolution had started off in my home country. This troubled me at first as I felt empathy for my people at home but then decided to carry on and live in the moment while my heart longed to be with my friends and family.


Faqra, Lebanon

In my professional life, weekend packs at Delta are an opportunity to socialize with your colleagues after long and stressful weeks. Regardless of one’s project location, you can meet up in any city of your choice and spend the weekend together. This is what my colleagues and I did last year when a bunch of Deltas hit Lebanon from all over the region. From relaxing in some beach resort to going for lunch in the mountains while touring, visiting tourist attractions or crashing at  party and accidentally twisting someone’s knee, they made it a weekend to remember. It added to the team spirit in a positive way.

Overcoming all the challenges were worth it once you made it there. When you work on a project, you travel often for work; this renders travelling for fun a necessity and an even more satisfying and relieving break, it broadens your personal knowledge. As a result, on your return you are more focused, resilient, and energized for new trials and client requests.

Overall, I was able to fulfill my passion for travelling and got to understand various cultures. Natural landscapes are a once in a lifetime opportunity to see during travels and I got the pleasure to admire real beauty in person (and not through a picture or a video). Last but not least, travelling promotes bonding within the team. Being around familiar faces adds security and comfort to travelling and the team sharing experiences add harmony to the cohesion of the group at work.

After I settled in, I used to think of Dubai as my new home, but it appears I will still be “heading to X” in any given direction and visit more cities, meet new friends, learn about more cultures and gain more experiences. The aim is to get exposed to cultures that will give me different perspectives and refine my ability to grasp and understand global and particular social norms and worldviews. This will allow me to assimilate in any society and ultimately create connections with others through open-mindedness and understanding.

Since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, people put their travel aspirations on hold. This also marked a psychological shift in people’s mindsets whenever it comes to interacting with strangers, friends, colleagues and even family members with high risk of virus complications. From a traveler’s perspective, strangers became perceived as potential virus carriers rather than potential friends from diverse cultures. Once the pandemic is under control and travel restrictions are eased, the desire to travel will cautiously resurge again in line with our collective definition of the new normal. As I look forward to this time to come, I hope we don’t forget the importance of social encounters – which is one of the many rewards of travelling – that might turn into an opportunity for cultural learnings or even friendship.

Joey Haddad