It was eight years ago that Rajaa Abu-Jabr, a professor at Dubai's Higher Colleges of Technology, moved to the emirate for work.
Born in Palestine, she and her husband had been living and working in the United States before the economy declined and they began looking for jobs elsewhere.
Returning to Palestine, however, was out of the question due to concerns of safety and stability.
"We wanted a safe, multicultural, and cosmopolitan place that can bring the East and West together," said Ms Abu-Jabr.
Her family was also looking for a change of pace from the monotony of small town life.
"Not much diversity existed around us and we did not want our daughter to grow up in an environment where she would feel she was different all the time," said Mrs Abu-Jabr.
Looking to return to their roots in the Middle East, the Abu-Jabr family searched for a place that could match the lifestyle they enjoyed in the US while allowing them to experience the culture of the Arab world.
"Choosing Dubai wasn't really difficult," said Mrs Abu-Jabr. "We were so impressed by the vision of the city.
Though parts of the city recalled her Palestinian upbringing, others were a happy surprise.
"I was surprised to see a new model of governance in this region where leadership is contributing to the development of the nation.
The countries in the region have abundant natural resources, but almost none of such resources is being used to help its nation grow.
"Dubai's model gave us hope."