Views #1040 | Intermediate 5

Old and New Cities

Aiman compares the old city of Damascus with the new city of Dubai.

Todd: So, Aiman, you are from Syria, but you've actually lived all over the Middle East. What's interesting is that you've lived in a very old city, Damascus, and a very new city, Dubai, and they're actually not that far from each other. What's the difference between living in a very old city and a very new city?

Aiman: It is really really different because the whole city is designed in a different way. In a city like Dubai for example, it is designed in a line. It is designed in a linear way, so you have to go across the city to go from one end to the other. And some people live on one end, and they work on the other end, so they have to go across the whole city, which makes roads unbelievably crowded all the time.

While in a city like Damascus, it is true that it is an old city and the road system is really old and needs to be maintained and changed sometimes, but still the city is of different parts that are connected, so you might find people who live on the northern-eastern part, and they have all that they need in that part. They don't need to go to any other part of the city. So that's why it is convenient to walk around the city. You don't even need a car in Damascus.

However, a city like Dubai being new and modern has it's advantages because it's convenient. You go everywhere and things are new, shops everywhere. New Shopping malls open every day, and you can go to one shopping mall and do whatever shopping you need, whatever brand you even think of is there, even the brands that you don't know, you will find there from all around the world.

You meet people from all around the world in Dubai. I meet friends from all different parts of the world. I learned about many different cultures in Dubai. While in Syria it is isolated and you don't meet people from other countries in Syria, and even when foreigners live in Syria, they tend to stay in their own bubble and not mix with people because I think that English is not very well spoken in Syria, so it is hard to move around with English in the city. While in Dubai it is the opposite because you can't speak Arabic sometimes in Dubai. Most of the time in Dubai. And if you are looking for a job, you have more chances finding a job if speak English and you don't speak Arabic, than if you speak Arabic but you don't speak English.

Todd: That's interesting.

Learn Vocabulary from the Lesson

all over


You've lived all over the Middle East.

In this case, "all over" means selected locations covering a wide ranging area.

  1. Different varieties of Eucalyptus trees can be found all over Australia.
  2. Last spring, a new strain of influenza spread all over the school.

one end


Go from one end to the other.

This expression is about area, the space that extends from one boundary to another.

  1. The train line goes from the northern to the southern boundary of the city.
  2. My husband is so messy! He leaves his dirty clothes from one end of the house to the other.



Syria is isolated.

"Isolation" is a noun meaning to be alone, separated from other things, places or people.

  1. When I had the measles, I was isolated in my bedroom so I wouldn't infect other people.
  2. People working in the Antarctic have an isolated existence.

in their bubble


they tend to stay in their own bubble.

This is a slang expression meaning isolated, to be sealed alone in a single soap bubble.

  1. Jane is very dreamy and lives in her own little bubble of imagination a lot of the time.
  2. The different ethnic groups live in their own bubbles and don't mix with outsiders.

move around


It is hard to move around with English in the city.

In this case, "move around" means it is difficult to function in the city if you only speak English.

  1. It was hard to move around the town when I didn't know how to say where I wanted to go.
  2. I feel uncomfortable moving around scientists because I don't understand what they're talking about.

Vocabulary Quiz

all over • one end • isolated
bubble • move around
  1. I had to a lot as a kid.
  2. He lives at of the city.
  3. She knows people town.
  4. Foreingers tend to live in a overseas.
  5. People who work at home sometimes feel .
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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