InterNations Featured Blog
Mrs Dubai: Dubai's Desperate Housewife
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Dubai, etc.
I am British; my husband and I moved to Dubai from London in 1998. We planned to stay long-term, so we shipped over everything we owned. I was overjoyed to be moving somewhere sunny; at age 26 and with no plans to have children, that’s all that mattered to me. My husband set up his own business, and I, as a journalist, decided to work freelance.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I had a full-time career up until my first child turned two. Then I realized something had to give and I took a step back from professional life to look after her. I started writing Dubai’s Desperate Housewife after my second child was born. I was climbing the walls with frustration and missing my career; I needed something to do for myself.
I thought only friends and family would read the blog, but I’m currently up to 1,000 hits per day. I also receive many messages from people wanting advice on moving to Dubai – I’m always happy to point them in the right direction. I’m also working on a Dubai’s Desperate Housewife book about life in Dubai.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Dubai differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
We arrived in August, so I remember being shocked by the heat every time we stepped out of a building. I simply couldn’t believe how steaming hot a Gulf summer is. I was also taken aback by the humidity – how buildings drip with it and you need to use windscreen wipers on car windscreens.
But I loved the way things were in Dubai back in 1998 – it was a much more laid-back and casual life than London, from where I had come. In those days you could park on pavements and bump over sand patches and no-one seemed to take anything too seriously.
I didn’t have any problems getting used to my new life. I loved it from the start. But it took a while to lose the feeling that I was just on holiday. It took me about six months to get to know how things worked in Dubai and to stop having to plan everything meticulously and check the map when I stepped out of the door in the morning.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Dubai? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
My husband and I came out for a three-day “reconnaissance” trip prior to making the decision to move, so I was sure I was going to like Dubai. But I wish I’d taken a job immediately instead of trying to work as a freelancer. That was lonely and a bit of a struggle as I had no contacts. I should have used a full-time job as a springboard to meet people and find out how the industry worked.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
My husband and I were once sitting in a café just outside Bur Juman shopping mall (before it was expanded) when the doors to the mall slid open and a white Landcruiser drove out of the pedestrian doors, paused, then bumped down the 20-odd steps, over the grass verge and merged with the road, the two Emirati lads in the car waving and smiling at everyone who watched, stunned. It was the first of many “Only in Dubai” moments.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Dubai?
- If possible, go on a research trip to your new host country before committing to a move.
- For the first few months, say yes to every invitation you get.
- Understand that things will be done differently in your host country to how they’re done at home. Don’t get angry or frustrated or try to change things; try to go with the flow.
How is the expat community in Dubai? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Expats in Dubai are a friendly bunch. Because almost 90 per cent of the population is expatriate, almost everyone you meet has gone through what you’re going through and people are always happy to help you, get chatting, or introduce you to their friends. It’s a very easy place to make friends from many different countries – allow yourself to be open to every opportunity and try not to be blinkered by sticking to your own nationality.
How would you summarize your expat life in Dubai in a single, catchy sentence?
Dubai is the land of opportunities: Seize them.