British Expat Living in UAE - Expat Interview with Lindsey

Published: 12 May at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,United Arab Emirates
Lindsey is a media professional who loves to travel and is currently living and working in Abu Dhabi, having first relocated to the UAE in 2006. After four and a half years living in Dubai, Lindsey relocated to Brisbane, Australia but after two years there, the call of the UAE was too hard to resist and moved back, this time to Abu Dhabi, where her blog began. Lindsey's expat blog is called Arabian Notes (see listing here)

Abra rides on Dubai Creek
Abra rides on Dubai Creek

Here's the interview with Lindsey...

Where are you originally from?
I'm originally from the UK - born in Scotland and moved around a bit, but spent the most time growing up in Cambridgeshire.

In which country and city are you living now?
I'm living in the United Arab Emirates now, in Abu Dhabi.

How long have you lived in United Arab Emirates and how long are you planning to stay?
I've been in the UAE since 2006 except for a two year break where we lived in Australia briefly, but I've been in Abu Dhabi since Jan 2013. Never say never but we're very happy here and don't currently have any plans to go elsewhere.

Exploring remote beaches and mountains of the region
Exploring remote beaches and mountains of the region
Why did you move to United Arab Emirates and what do you do?
I first moved to Dubai in 2006 for work. Through my experience in media I got a job with a publishing company there and it was my first opportunity to go and live overseas so I was very excited. We came back in 2013 because my husband had been offered a job in Abu Dhabi, we loved the lifestyle in the UAE so we couldn't refuse.

Did you bring family with you?
Yes, I came here with my husband.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It was fine, I was so excited to be here. Pretty much everyone speaks English so it's quite straightforward as long as you have done some research and know a little about what to expect and keep an open mind.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
It has been easier to make friends in Abu Dhabi than it was in Dubai, I have found it easier to find people here very quickly that share a lot in common. The expat population is huge in the UAE - I think it's something like over 80% of people here are expats, so yes, you can say we mainly socialise with expats! It's great, because it means you end up with friends from all over the world.

Luxury hotels and beautiful beaches!
Luxury hotels and beautiful beaches!
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
There is so much to see and do here, and the beaches are amazing. There's heaps of stuff to explore, it's just all down to making an effort to find out about it really. There are turtles naturally found on Saadiyat Island and they have a great care and protection programme in place, the old parts of Abu Dhabi are great to explore too - the markets around the Port are really interesting... There's so much, you'll have to come and find out!

What do you enjoy most about living in United Arab Emirates?
I love the weather, the lifestyle, the community feel that Abu Dhabi has about it... I love living somewhere with such a different culture to my own too, it's interesting to learn about the culture and history. The fact the sun nearly always shines definitely makes people much happier than in a cold climate!

How does the cost of living in United Arab Emirates compare to home?
Some things are more expensive and some things are much cheaper. It all depends really on where you shop, what sort of things you buy and the type of lifestyle you want to live - how much you eat out etc. You can buy almost everything from all over the world here in the supermarkets so if you want to live exactly as you did at home then it will be expensive to buy imported goods, but if you look for local brands and change your habits just a little bit, you can save a lot of money.

National Day fun!
National Day fun!
What negatives, if any, are there to living in United Arab Emirates?
For me, I don't think there are any really! It gets very hot in the summer but you get used to it, and you don't really have to go out much in it either as there is good air-con everywhere. There are certainly things about living here that can be challenging, but for me that's all part of the fun of living overseas. If I had to say one thing, I'd probably say the standards of driving... People who don't know how to drive on roundabouts properly drive me nuts and there is a lot of those here...!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to United Arab Emirates, what would it be?
Don't come here and complain and make continual comparisons to your home country... you need to keep an open mind and roll with it to enjoy it. Create a new benchmark. It is not the same here as your home country - just remember that's probably one of the reasons you wanted to come here in the first place!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I think the hardest part is always being so far away from friends and family, especially if there's an emergency at home. But on the bright side, the UAE is in a great position to be able to travel almost anywhere pretty quickly. You also find out fast who your real friends are which can be hard, but ultimately makes life easier!

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I'm not sure. I think it's very hard to leave a place like the UAE after you've lived here for a while, it's easy to get very spoiled here and get used to the good life! That's one of the reasons we decided to leave Australia and come back to the UAE - once you know there's a better life out there it's hard to settle for anything less. We are certainly not planning to go anywhere at the moment. And I may still refer to the UK as 'home', but after not having lived there since 2006 I'm not sure that's even accurate anymore!

Beautiful sunsets
Beautiful sunsets
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Do your research before you move and keep an open mind when you do arrive. This is a great place to live and they have achieved incredible things in a very short time - remember the country was only founded in 1971!
  2. Don't worry, just do it. If it doesn't work out for any reason you can always go back home, and at least you'll be able to say you gave it your best shot.
  3. It's good to build a wide network of friends so don't just rely on making friends at work. Get out and about - explore, meet new people, try new things. Have fun!
  4. Taxis are cheap and easy to get around but for real freedom, you'll need a car. Get a four wheel drive for safety on the roads and for exploring off the beaten track.
  5. Be respectful of the culture. You'll get much more out of your experience if you put a little effort into learning about it and gain a better understanding of the local way of life.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I love to write and I love to travel so after thinking about it for a long time, I finally decided to take the plunge and just do it, starting my blog in Oct 2013. I write about things people ask me about life here, what I get up to around the UAE as well as reviews and thoughts that occur to me about life here. I also write about my travels around the region and outside of the region. It's a mix of everything about being an expat in the UAE in general I suppose!

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be contacted with any questions or for a chat via twitter, my blog contact page or my blog facebook page

About the author

Expat Blog ListingLindsey is a British expat living in United Arab Emirates. Blog description: Are you curious about what life is really like in the UAE and want to know more? Then come and join me on my adventures through life in Abu Dhabi and beyond as I work my way towards 1001 Arabian notes...
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