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Interview with Seabee – an Australian expat living in Dubai

Updated 5 Jul 2010

Seabee writes a blog called Life in Dubai, which is mostly a look at the things that happen around the city, the frustrations expats face, the good, the bad and the funny things they are likely to encounter. It’s a view from the street, one person’s record of daily life in the city during a historic and unprecedented period in its development.

For more information on the United Arab Emirates, access the Abu Dhabi and Dubai guides.

About Seabee

Q: Where are you originally from? 
A: Australia

Q: Where are you living now? 
A: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Q: How long have you lived in Dubai? 
A: From 1977 to 1984 and again since 2005

Q: Did you move with a spouse/children? 
A: Spouse

About Dubai

Q: What do you enjoy most about Dubai? How’s the quality of life? 
A: Quality of life is excellent. I enjoy the fact that it’s a truly international city, with people from almost every country on earth living in harmony. The second most enjoyable factor is the weather. The beaches are great, the shopping ranges from the most modern malls to old souks (markets) and local shopping strips, there are thousands of restaurants and cafés for eating out, it’s a mixture of the ultra-modern and old.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home? 
A: The obvious – friends and family.

Q: Is Dubai safe? 
A: One of the safest places in the world.

About living in Dubai

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Dubai as an expat? 
A: Any. You can live in the original city or in one of the many new developments in New Dubai (where foreigners can buy freehold property). The better quality accommodation is generally in the new developments, including waterfront properties on man-made lakes and canals.

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation? 
A: Excellent.

Q: What’s the cost of living in Dubai compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular? 
A: Comparing apples with oranges is difficult, but Dubai is generally a little cheaper than Sydney. Accommodation rent is expensive but dropping. Schooling is expensive. Cars, petrol and food are cheap.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats? 
A: Emiratis make up only about 15% of the population, so it’s much easier to mix socially with expats. In the working environment, everyone mixes.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends in Dubai? 
A: It depends on the individual and how sociable one is. There are sports and social clubs, online communities that meet in the real world, pubs and clubs, and many friends made through work contacts.

About working in Dubai

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit for the UAE? 
A: Employers have to arrange the work visa and residence visa. The sponsored person can then sponsor his/her spouse and children.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in Dubai? Is there plenty of work? 
A: The city is doing fairly well compared to many cities/countries since the global economic meltdown.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home? 
A: Much longer hours, less employee protection, no trade unions.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Dubai? 
A: Excellent.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals? 
A: The same rules apply to all new arrivals in any new location. Do your research, learn about the place, the people, the culture, the laws, and how you should behave. Far too many people go to new places with absolutely no idea of what they will encounter, how they should behave, or how they can get into trouble with the law.

► Interviewed July 2010

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