British Expat Living In Dubai UAE - Expat Interview With Mrs Dubai

Published: 12 Nov at 11 AM
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Filed: Interviews,United Arab Emirates
Mrs Dubai knew since she was tiny that she had to live somewhere hot and sunny. Even her mum said it was just a matter of time before she packed her bags and left. Luckily, she met a man who agreed, and the two of them set off for life in Dubai, where Mrs Dubai pursued a career publishing for seven years before having children and taking a step back from her career to bring them up. She initially set up her blog, Dubai’s Desperate Housewife (see listing here), as an outlet while she adjusted to being a stay-at-home mum, although now she admits she actually quite likes being at home. Her blog reflects the ups, the downs, the frustrations and, sometimes, the glamour, of being a mum in Dubai.

Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Here's the interview with Mrs Dubai...

Where are you originally from?
I’m from London, UK.

In which country and city are you living now?
Dubai, UAE.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I’ve lived here for 14 years and have no plans to leave. When my husband and I left the UK, we decided it would be long-term.

Why did you move and what do you do?
We were young newly-weds with no ties and were keen to start a new life somewhere exciting. I love the sunshine and my husband was running a business that he thought would flourish in Dubai, so we sold our house and our cars, packed everything else and left.
I’d been working in publishing in London and I decided to go freelance in Dubai. As I knew no-one and the publishing industry was tiny, it wasn’t the smartest move.

Did you bring family with you?
It was just my husband and I.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Given I was just 26 and overjoyed at living in a sunny country, I found everything exotic and exciting; I walked around with my eyes on stalks, soaking it all up. Looking back, I was lucky I didn’t have children to settle into schools and so on. There was a certain freedom in it just being us. But as we were both self-employed, there wasn’t much financial security either. I’ll never forget handing over a brown envelope containing our life savings in cash to pay for our first year’s rent.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
As I didn’t take an office job, I had no colleagues and I found it hard to meet people, so my biggest problem was loneliness. I decided to go all-out to make new friends. I said yes to every invitation I was offered; I went to a seminar for new expats and made an outright effort to talk to people. Some of the ladies I met that day are still close friends. Once you make a couple of friends, it’s easy to meet more as they introduce you to new people. Expats in Dubai are generally pretty friendly.
Yes, I do socialise mainly with other expats – though not necessarily British ones. My children have Emirati friends at school so I’m slowly getting to know a couple of Emirati families through them.

Dubai's Desperate HousewifeWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
This is Dubai – what isn’t there to do in the area?! I would recommend future expats take a little time to get to know the soul of the UAE. Go to a camel race, experience the camel market, go to Dubai Museum – which is a wealth of information – explore the Bastakiya area and soak up the atmosphere. Then go and try all the modern attractions. You can’t beat Aquaventure water park at Atlantis!
Group-buying websites such as Groupon and Cobone often have great deals for tourist activities such as helicopter flights over Dubai or yacht cruises round The Palm. These are great value and a fantastic way to live a millionaire’s life on a pauper’s budget (or pocket the difference and spend it on handbags).

What do you enjoy most about living here?
Waking up to wall-to-wall sunshine almost every single day. Under those circumstances, even the odd cloudy and rainy day becomes fun.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
I think it’s pretty similar to living in London, though salaries may be a little higher. Certain things, such as petrol, are much cheaper here, but other things, such as alcohol and imported foods, are much more expensive. We don’t pay income tax, but the cost of school fees and rent soon add up to what you may have saved on tax. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.

Dubai's Desperate HousewifeWhat negatives, if any, are there to living here?
When you’re living as a guest in someone’s country – especially a country where you can never have any permanent residency rights let alone citizenship – there’s always a worry that you could be deported. So there’s not a lot of long-term security. There are also some laws that can appear quite capricious and that have been the downfall of many an expat, but I always maintain that if you behave with decorum and pay attention to the laws, you should generally be fine.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Remember that you’re a guest in someone else’s country.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Dealing with pesky houseguests who think you’re a free hotel.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I have no plans to return home. Even if I leave Dubai, I would try not to return to England. The thought of repatriation makes me shake with horror. I can’t imagine how miserable I would be if I had to return to the British climate.

Dubai's Desperate HousewifeWhat are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
1. Be as open and friendly as you can.
2. Say yes to every invitation.
3. Never bitch behind people’s backs as expat societies are generally small and word will get back to the other person.
4. Learn as much as you can about your host culture.
5. Learn to let go and go with the flow: You cannot control everything.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I set up Dubai’s Desperate Housewife three years ago when I was forced to take a step back from my publishing career to bring up the children. After years of working my ass off in a glamorous profession, I was very frustrated by the life of domesticity and I created the blog as a way to reach out to other mums in a similar position, and to fulfil my need to write.
I’m happy to say I’ve now come (largely) to terms with being a full-time mum and I think that comes across in the blog. Nowadays, it’s more a celebration of life in Dubai; a little bit of sanity in the madness.
I’ve made a lot of new friends through my blog, and I now have over 1,650 subscribers whose lives seem to resonate with mine. Their encouragement is what keeps me writing.

Dubai's Desperate HousewifeHow can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Through comments on the blog, leave a comment below, Email on mrsdubai{at}ymail-dot-com , Twitter: @mrsdubai – I’m always on Twitter!

Mrs Dubai has an expat blog called Dubai's Desperate Housewife which is very worthy of a visit. She can be found on Twitter @mrsdubai. Dubai's Desperate Housewife has an listing here which would love a nice review if you can spare a quick moment! If you liked this interview with Mrs Dubai, please also drop her a quick note below.
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