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Lucy: Homesick and Heatstruck

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Dubai, etc.

I’m a writer and teacher. In 2010 my husband and I moved from the UK to Dubai after he accepted a job here. It was one of those terribly sensible decisions that makes sound fiscal sense – a decision made with the head rather than the heart – and, while life in Dubai has its perks, I have found it difficult to adjust to life in a place so fundamentally different from my rural British home …

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I started blogging a couple of months ago – largely because I love writing and want to get better at it. I think moving to a new country and suffering from homesickness are great creative catalysts.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

It’s all a bit Ozymandias is a recent blog post about the nature of life in the UAE – and one of the things that makes it so strange…

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?

Absolutely. I found it very difficult at first – I missed the rain, the countryside… I’m getting used to it out here, but it still doesn’t feel quite like home and I don’t know if it ever will. Some expats talk about their several ‘homes’ but I’m struggling to embrace the idea – I think I’m monog-home-ous… The underlying attitudes and ways of doing things here are very different from the UK – which is of course what one should expect when moving to a different country… What makes it puzzling and, at times, frustrating, is that despite these fundamental differences the superficial appearance of life here is so recognizable.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Dubai? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

We’ve been here for two years now and we were originally going to stay for two years in total but it seems to have become a rolling two years and our stay is currently indefinite… With this in mind, I wish we had just shipped out all our belongings instead of storing them at our parents’ homes.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

When my parents were here on holiday with us we hired a driver for the day to take us out into the desert. We got stuck deep into the sand and became very anxious that we were going to be marooned in the desert forever and that we were probably all going to die of thirst. After a while the driver managed to dig us out. We rounded the next dune only to discover that we were an embarrassingly short distance away from the main road and a petrol station…

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Dubai?

  • Get all your official documents (qualifications, marriage certificate etc) legally attested before you get here.
  • Make sure you have Skype on your phone / laptop before moving to Dubai as you can’t download it from here (unless you have a VPN).
  • Get an alcohol licence if you intend to drink or buy any booze in the UAE.

How is the expat community in Dubai? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

Dubai must be one of the few countries in the world in which the native population are vastly outnumbered by expatriates. We were lucky enough to know one couple when we moved out here and that really helped with finding our feet – they’ve become our family out here. Most of my new friends I’ve made through my work or my husband’s work - expats from the UK, Australia, Ireland and other European countries. Last year A. A. Gill wrote a pretty scathing piece about Dubai and its expats; it’s not really a fair or balanced picture: there are plenty of lovely, intelligent, normal people here and Dubai isn’t all bluster and bling – it really does have some charms.

How would you summarize your expat life in Dubai in a single, catchy sentence?

Tough weeks at work followed by lovely, relaxing weekends in the sunshine.

Peter B. Krehmer

"There are so many expats in the UAE, but the InterNations Dubai Ramadan dinners brought some wonderful guests together. "

Suzanne Payne

"Dubai is such an overwhelming mixture of tradition and modernity that I was very grateful for all the support from other expats. "

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