living in the United Arab Emirates

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Things we love about UAE

  • Arabic language
  • All female beaches
  • Family friendly
  • Home comforts readily available
  • Hearing the adhaan
  • Halal food!
  • Sun, sun and sun!
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Monday, 12 March 2012

With hindsight on your side...?

I received awesome questions asked by a reader of this here blog last month and I thought I would take the time to actually answer the questions (and subsequent little questions too).

These were the questions:

With the beauty of hindsight on your side, is there anything you would do differently when migrating? Did AD meet your expectations? And has there been any unpleasant surprises?

I'll start with the first question.
My hub left for Abu Dhabi a whole 10 weeks before we did. In that time he sorted all our papers (visa and what-not, waited for the company to pay for our air-fare). For 4 of those 10 weeks he was put up in a cushy hotel enjoying himself - whilst we were still in the rainy UK. That was the biggest regret, to be honest, regarding migrating! LOL!
Also, packing up the house was a real hassle. Luckily we employed a very efficient manager to look after our property and so we have not needed to worry in that regard either.

Abu Dhabi not only met my expectations but exceeded them... but it is not for everybody. There are people who moved here with us and left within 12 weeks. The name of the game here is FLEXIBILITY and a firm understanding and openness of the culture here. Unfortunately flexibility is a word that is thrown about, and people move here thinking that they have prepared themselves but they really haven't. The type of flexibility one needs here is one of a saint! You need to be willing to stay calm in irritating situations, and to always know that things will get better when they get a little sticky.

As for unpleasant surprises - there has only really been one major one (and one minorish one). The major one is that there really is a type of caste system here (according to race). It's not really discussed or even acknowledged but being from the UK where everybody is pretty much treated amazingly equal - I found it quite obvious here. Emiratis.... being the locals of course are positioned at the peak of society and then it just kinda goes down from there. This is something I still find a little difficult adjusting too - but really, I just make sure that I personally treat everybody with respect regardless of their race.
The minor unpleasant surprise is this... basically, when you buy something here, and you open it - i.e. take it out of the packaging but then realise it didn't go with your d├ęcor, or you just don't like it.... there are no consumer rights here (unless they're western stores [for example Matalan, La Senza]), in most stores you cannot just return something unless it has never been taken out of the box. This is an annoyance... a minor one, but a surprise none the less.

In conclusion. With complete honesty.... we really love it here. We love the weather, we love the amazingly FAMILY FRIENDLY atmosphere (it is quite normal to go to a nice restaurant at 8 at night and have families with small children sat at the table with them and nobody even bats an eyelid), we love that there are so many activities, sports groups, book clubs, art groups, knitting societies, Irish club, pottery groups, classes (both free and costly), Art and Literature festivals, a massive book fair, science fairs, Arab culture, Western culture, Islam, Arabic, book stores, Western stores as well as Arab stores, restaurants from all over the planet, supermarkets stocking food from our home countries, expats galore, an emphasis on culture, Dubai is just up the road... and of course SHOPPPPPPPIINNNGGGGG!!!
My life has been enriched dramatically, our lifestyle is much improved and the stress levels have dropped... we're happy, of course we miss our families very very much - but hopefully, a few more months and we'll be back in the rain and with our family for a few months.

I hope this has helped anybody looking to potentially move to Abu Dhabi. We love it here, and with an open mind, knowledge of the local customs, culture and religion as well as lots of flexibility, positivity and motivation ... you'll love it too!


  1. Just found your blog and we are enjoying it. We are considering a job in Abu Dhabi. We have a 1 year old and would be interested in a school. Can you give me an idea what it would cost approximately and what the hours would be? Thanks we are trying to understand what it will cost to live there. I'm still trying to figure out the cost of food, pork, chicken, beef. If you can help out with any of that info it would be appreciated.

  2. I've surfed the net more than three hours today, and your blog was the coolest of all. Thanks a lot, it is really useful to me