Filipino Expat Living in Dubai - Interview With Malaya

Published: 17 Apr at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,United Arab Emirates
Malaya moved from the sunny islands of the Philippines to the vast sand dunes of Dubai, UAE, working as a Graphic Designer. Extending her art from home, she explores Dubai's art scene and tries to interact with other artists, attending art events and shows. She would love to have a one-woman show of her own someday, and hoping for Dubai to be the city of her debut. She intends to continue her outdoor adventures and activities that the city has to offer. Now, she is self-training to soon join numerous triathlon events that UAE is organizing, aside form the fun runs and marathons she is participating in. From the deserts, she plans to map and conquer more wonderful cities abroad fulfilling her dreams to travel the world. Malaya's expat blog is called Kulangsakulangot's Blog (see listing here)

Meet Malaya - Filipino expat in Dubai
Meet Malaya - Filipino expat in Dubai

Here's the interview with Malaya...

Where are you originally from?
I'm originally from the Philippines.

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm living now in Dubai, UAE.

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been living in Dubai for a year. Exactly one year this March. As long as I have work here I have no plans of going back home yet. No solid plans, just going with the flow for now.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I'm one of those people who wants to experience the other part of the world, the sights, the history, the people and their culture, and Dubai gave me the jump-start.
I'm a Graphic Designer.

Did you bring family with you?
I'm still single but my sister and her husband came soon after.

Dubai sand dunes
Dubai sand dunes
How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The transition is not that difficult. There's quite a large community of Filipinos here so I don't feel homesick. Plus I have family and few friends. There are establishments here that we also have back home, so familiarity is there. Public transports are similar. Food is diverse since expats come from different parts of the world, everything is available and which I'm willing to explore each and every dish, and our own native cuisines can be found here easily as well. Though I miss the greenery, shores, high peaks and the nice weather back home. Accents of different nationalities could sometimes be tough to comprehend, but aside from that, I'm still to discover what the city has in store for me and also the rest of the Emirates.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I'm so fortunate enough to have close friends here from back home, making new friends is easy. They welcomed me and let me join their circle of friends here. I try to join groups and clubs that have activities that I'm also interested in and meet people as well as other expats.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Definitely Desert Safari. This will be something new and fun to do specially for those who have not been to the deserts. You will get to dune bash on the sand slopes of Dubai, have a camel ride, get henna tattoos, and fill up with a scrumptious buffet while watching authentic belly dancers perform.

If you want to experience the old city of Dubai, Bastakia/Bastaquia is a beautiful heritage sight to visit. Souks or the traditional arabic marketplace is also nearby for your souvenir needs.

More attractions that shouldn't be missed are the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel and the Burj Khalifa. Go At the Top to see the view at the top of the highest skyscraper in the world so far, the Burj Khalifa, will be an experience as well.

Henna tattoo lady
Henna tattoo lady
What do you enjoy most about living here?
I love that the city has been advancing in terms of building structures, public transports, making the city more tourist/expat-friendly as it is the most open city among the GCC. Dubai is now embracing modernization compared to other of its nearby Gulf countries, but at the same time controlled and systematic. The city is clean, not overpopulated and not chaotic. It is easy to roam around and do outdoor activities, sports and have night outs with friends without the fuss of long travels. Everything is easy access.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
The cost of living back home is higher than Dubai's. In the Philippines there are taxes unlike here in Dubai. Though living comfortably depends also in your income, back home we have somehow an income bracket for every field of work, and a minimum wage. On the other hand, here in Dubai there is no such thing. Salary depends on how much the employer is willing to pay his employees. Sad to say many are underpaid but still prefer to stay.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Like in any place, there is discrimination and expats will still be second class citizens.
The seven months or so in a year are summer days and the peak are unbearable to stay outdoors. I still have to get used to the weather even though I myself came from a country with warm climate.

The fall at Dubai Mall with my sister
The fall at Dubai Mall with my sister
If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Always be aware of the traditions and the culture, rules and regulations, not only here in Dubai but in any other foreign places you go to, respect and obey them.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Well, thank God that my one year stay here is great. Everything is going smooth. Dubai life is good to me. Maybe the hardest aspect so far is not spending time with my friends back home anymore, but thanks to the advancement of technology and social media they don't seem like miles away.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Move to a foreign country only if you're ready
  2. Don't forget to bring at least one great photo of you with your family and friends back home
  3. Make sure all living essentials are covered in your compensation package and not underpaid
  4. Always stay safe
  5. Eexplore every corner of the city/country that is your new home. Enjoy and have fun!

The walk in Jumeirah Beach Residences
The walk in Jumeirah Beach Residences
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My intention of creating my blog Kulangsakulangot is to brainstorm with my sister and her bridesmaids for her wedding preparations. She created a her own wedding journal/planner blog and told me to create one as well so that me and her bridesmaids' blogs can be linked to hers and for us to input ideas and easily communicate with each other. Then after the wedding, as I am still an active mountaineer at that time, want to use Kulangsakulangot as a venue to document my mountaineering experiences and blog about some useful information for those readers that would like to try mountain climbing for the first time. But now that I'm living here in Dubai, Kulangsakulangot will now be a blog site about my adventures here in my new home.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
They can contact me through my blog.

Malaya blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Kulangsakulangot's Blog has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Malaya, please also drop her a quick comment below.

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