Cyprus to Dubai UAE- Expat Interview With FooDiva

Published: 20 Nov at 3 PM
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Filed: Interviews,United Arab Emirates
FooDiva, aka Samantha Wood, a Greek-Cypriot-British national, spent her early years growing up in the Caribbean before returning to Cyprus followed by the UK. In 1999, she swopped her London life in fashion PR for Dubai and a corporate career in mostly hospitality PR and marketing. 18 months ago she set up her own business with a number of different ‘hats’ – FooDiva, her award-winning restaurant review blog FooDiva (see listing here), a journalist, as well as a PR consultant and trainer.


Here's the interview with Samantha...

Where are you originally from?
I was born in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot mother and Welsh father.

In which country and city are you living now?
I live in Dubai in the UAE.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived in Dubai for over 13 years so it’s very much my home now. No plans to leave but am always up for an adventure so who knows?!

FooDivaWhy did you move and what do you do?
I was working in London and frustrated with the rat race. I came here on holiday and loved it - warm weather and a tax-free lifestyle clearly appealed. I had a job offer to work for a PR consultancy and moved here – have never looked back. Now my ‘baby’ is FooDiva (, an award-winning blog dedicated to impartial, intelligent restaurant reviews and food features. It helps make the decision on which restaurant to choose a little easier, as well as providing news bites on the latest foodie happenings. I also freelance as a journalist and communications consultant/ trainer.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Easy peasy – thanks to my father’s job in the hotel industry as a family we always travelled. I am pretty confident I can make any country my home.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
With a very social job in PR, I was out and about meeting lots of people – having said that it takes a while to filter through this mass of an expat community and develop real friendships. You need to be patient and give it a year. My friends are expats, but from all corners of the globe, Arab world included. I do interface with Emiratis but mostly through my work.

FooDivaWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Check out my bucket list, mostly food-related of course!

What do you enjoy most about living here?
Sunny clime aside, it’s the quality of life and entrepreneurial opportunities that make Dubai the buzzing city it is.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
It’s certainly lower than the UK, London that is – but not in comparison to Cyprus.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The red tape and lack of responsiveness – but the good far outweighs the bad.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Always follow-up on every task – don’t ever take a yes for granted. Unfortunately just because someone says they will do something does not mean they will.

FooDivaWhat has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I guess my biggest challenge would be setting up my own business with my own funds – but that would apply to any country.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Do your research and talk to like-minded individuals on the ground before accepting a job offer and relocating.
  2. Buy the Dubai Explorer guide which will guide you through relocating tips and official government procedures.
  3. Make sure you come with savings – unless your company provides a fully comprehensive package with accommodation, car etc – the set-up costs and deposits can be huge.
  4. Get your educational certificates attested in your home country.
  5. Search out blogs for honest recommendations on every aspect of expat living.

FooDivaHow can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Either via my website (see below), through Twitter on @foodivaworld or my Facebook page

Samantha blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. FooDiva has an listing here, which has a huge number of fans already (although there's always room for more!) If you liked this interview with Samantha, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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Comments » There are 9 comments

Nel wrote 11 years ago:

A very informative and reliable blog. I would recommend it to anyone visiting Dubai.

Elisabeth Villiger Toufexis wrote 11 years ago:

Like the interview very much! From my personal experience I know that it takes a lot of courage to leave the comfort zone and set up somewhere completely new. Samantha makes it sound very easy which shows that she is a woman of the world. Lots of luck for the future and bon appetit!

John Zening wrote 11 years ago:

A very interesting insight to life as an expat - starting from a very young age.

Stella Stylianou wrote 11 years ago:

Great interview. Excellent site with lots of useful information, very well presented, just love it! Keep up the good work Samantha!

George Geris wrote 11 years ago:

Excellent interview Samantha! Loved the insights into your worldly life and career. Really enjoy your Foodiva blogs which have fuelled my interest in Dubai - will hopefully visit sometime soon to take up some of your recommendations.

CRCW wrote 11 years ago:

It is good to find out about more on who FooDiva is, as I have been using her blog for the past 18 months. A very interesting insight.

Anastasia wrote 11 years ago:

Good interview! Today's post on Foodiva-on blogging- is an interesting one. FooDiva has shown great professionalism on the handling of the reaction/comments of the Italian chef who was not happy with her restaurant review....

DNCW wrote 11 years ago:

This is a fascinating interview. If someone checks FooDiva's site, it is very clear that she has a multitude of skills, qualifications and experiences such as the ability to make interviews with 'celebrities' so interesting that they become 'must read'. Nothing but admiration for what she has achieved. Bravo!

Jackie wrote 11 years ago:

Reading Foodiva is never boring...because of the diversity of subjects she presents! We do like this interesting interview but we do love also her latest post!

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