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Possible move to Abu Dhabi - any tips/ advice welcome!

(10 Posts)
sydenhamhiller Wed 16-Jan-13 22:42:08

DH has just had 2nd interview re a position in AD. We live in London, were not looking to move, but he was approached and now it's looking very likely! Before DH decides, the company will fly whole family out to see the place, see schools etc.

Have done a 'search' on AD, and 2008/09 threads talk about the huge demand for schools. My eldest 2 kids are nearly 7 and nearly 9 and very happy in their oversubscribed London primary, so I am a bit worried that we'll take them out, and then I'll have to home school them in AD as there are no school places! (Only half joking...)

Anyone out there who can give me a bit of the lie of the land before we take this any further? And what's it like out there? I am an expat brat myself (grew up in NL and Taiwan, and spent couple years in Japan in my 20s), but have lived in London for 14 years, and having had 3 children here, am shocked to find that I appear to have put down roots... Is it worth uprooting? grin)

Thank you!

sydenhamhiller Thu 17-Jan-13 11:55:22


Lifeonthecanal Thu 17-Jan-13 17:20:58

I am in AD and am happy to help if I can. It's also worth googling Abu Dhabi Woman as there is an active forum that can be helpful.

My DC are too little for school, but I don't think school places are impossible to find. It's not as hard as in Dubai where people do struggle. There are a number of schools to choose from and a lot depends where you choose to live and how long you want your school run to be.

We like living here, I prefer Dubai, but AD has it's plus points. It is easy to meet people and as everyone has been in the same boat, people are generally friendly and welcoming.

It is expensive to rent, so a good housing allowance is vital. School fees are also expensive so make sure these are covered. Cars are cheaper than the UK and petrol is very cheap.

The weather is great most ofnthe time -it is 23 degrees today which is as cool as it gets. Summer is grim, but it's only a few months and many people leave for the whole school holidays.

If you need any other information, let me know and I will see if I can help.

sydenhamhiller Sun 20-Jan-13 20:47:39

LotC- thanks for all of that, really appreciate it. if you don't mind,I'd love to pick your brains some more: what does one do if you don't work? Are there toddler groups to go? (I have a baby as well as school age kids.) And just being nosey: why did you prefer Dubai (not that thats's an option).
I guess I am concerned about uprooting the kids now they are older (we have had 2 near moves overseas when they were toddlers), and concerned about school places, and if we (kids and me!) hate it, we'll have lost our places at our over subscribed London school....
Ah dilemmas dilemmas.

CarlingBlackMabel Mon 21-Jan-13 10:22:22

My sister works in AD, in alternate 3m stints with working in France and UK. So, 6m out of every year in AD. She hates it sad. Though I made the point about the alternating in case that affects settling down and learning to enjoy it, as you would hopefully do.

Things she hates: Climate when it is hot. Very hot. 40' hot. No pavements and big fast mad cars everywhere - hates being a pedestrian. Hates the car culture - finds it very hard to get about by herself especially as a woman. She hates the way the royal family control everything and the irrational use of resources in creating great big occasions in their honour (but she is involved in this kind of thing). She hates the position of the immigrant servant labour, and the treatment of children born to them by AD fathers. Basically a child of an immigrant worker is not recognised as a citizen, even if the father is an AD national, anbd they are put in 'orphanages' and often made to work for the state. (She has been involved in projects involving them). Food - divide between bland international hotel type fare and proper local cuisine and how divided the society is. Very expat. And, 'nothing to do' once work is over. But she works 12 hour days, 6 days a week when she is there.

Good that you can go and scope it out before you go.

Personally I would dread the process of coming back to the UK and needing to find school places in-year, at whatever stage you returned, unless you can go private.

Lifeonthecanal Tue 22-Jan-13 11:48:05

Hello again. Well there are a number of things CarlingBlackMabel says that I totally disagree with. There is lots to do once work is over, just depends what you want to do. If your children are into sports then there is just about everything available - football, rugby, swimming, karate, ballet etc. There are Cubs & Brownies groups. Lots of parks. If you are into sports there are running groups, military fitness groups, tennis, cycling and so on. Google 'The Club Abu Dhabi' - this is a place we are members of and they offer just about everything.

I also disagree about the food. There is every type of cuisine at every level available. If you want cheap, medium priced or expensive Lebanese, Indian, Thai, Italian etc you can find it. There is good pub food, fast food food, restaurants affiliated with famous chefs and everything in-between.

I personally don't have a problem being a woman here - it's nothing like Saudi. If you want to work you can and there are many many females in high positions, including Emirati women.

The summer is pretty rubbish as I said, but everywhere is air-conditioned, it just means you spend 3 months indoors. Having said that, many people spend a lot of time in the UK indoors during the winter, so not that much different. Rest of the year is beach weather.

A lot of Mums don't work for a variety of reasons. Some don't want to. It can be difficult to find after school care and most schools finish between 2 and 3pm. Many families with 2 working parents rely on a maid looking after the children until they are home. Live-in help in very common and affordable for a lot of people. Part-time work is available but everyone wants it, so it's a battle to get it!

There are lots of toddler groups. Google Abu Dhabi Mums - it's an active group who do some great things. Horse riding, play groups, swimming, singing groups, bouncy castle sessions etc. Can choose things every day. There are lots of coffee mornings which may not be your thing, but are a good way to meet people when you arrive. Lots of craft groups, volunteering, lots of day exercise classes. My DH is currently doing a Spanish course in the evening, so if you want to keep busy you can.

I think I prefer Dubai just because I know it better as we were there 6 years. Lots of people prefer AD, so horses for courses!

Hope that helps - let me know if you have any other questions.

sydenhamhiller Tue 22-Jan-13 12:43:25

CarlingBlackMabel thanks for your feedback. I think your sister's view is something I'd share...If I was single, would not be moving to AD.

However, have 3 kids (9, 7 and baby) - just about cover the mortgage every month, and after recent personal muggings, and concerns about secondary schools, we were starting to wonder about moving anyway. Suddenly, out of the blue this opportunity to - frankly - bank some money for 3 years has presented itself, and that is the big draw.

My kids go to a state primary, which we walk to. I have glasses, short frizzy hair and clothes from Sainsburys - I am not looking to trade my life in for the school run in a shiny SUV, with other mums with long blond perfectly-straight hair <envy emoticon> and designer handbags, and days spent on the golf course. smile So what else would I do with my time? Are there other expats who don't like golf or brunching? Is there anywhere to go except the mall?

We would be economic migrants, pure and simple, like the Polish guys working on the house across the road... Make some money, and then return...but would we?

The thought of coming back and trying to get 3 school places gives me the heebie-jeebies, you're right!

sydenhamhiller Tue 22-Jan-13 12:55:05

Lifeonthecanal just posted before I saw your second one - thanks for that, and for the reassurance about sports, clubs etc for adults and kids - mine do the usual swimming, athletics, choir, cubs etc, and it's great to think we could keep that going.

And also relieved there will be something for me - I was a SAHM for a few years, and then childminded until I had DC3, so will be a SAHM again if we move...I was rather selfishly worried that the kids would adapt, DH would love the job, and I would be languishing at home with lovely DC3 as I am not hugely into shopping... grin) Poor AD and Dubai, they do get a hard press I feel! When friends have moved to Switzerland and Texas, everyone said "oh how exciting". When another friend announced they are moving to Dubai, people were much more negative...

I really appreciate your feedback, esp as you have kids so will have encountered situations I am likely to face. I think, if DH does get the offer, we will go over and have a look at least. (DC1 and 2 not keen on the idea at all, hoping lots of pool time will convert them... smile )

Thanks again.

Lifeonthecanal Tue 22-Jan-13 16:46:39

I think you could do a roaring trade if you decided to go back into childminding. Especially if you did after school care which is when people struggle.

The Daily Mail hates the UAE and sadly a lot of people believe what they read, a lot of which is rubbish. There are LOADS are normal Mums here. Yes, a lot drive big cars but that is because they are far cheaper than in the UK and the driving here leaves something to be desired and people want to feel 'safe'. Plus it costs me about 12 pounds to fill up my car so petrol prices aren't really an issue.

If it helps, I was here for a few years a child (way back when!) and have great memories of the place - I think that is why I ended back here.

And you will pleased to know that a 'George' clothes shop opened recently and people are going crazy for it - I don't think most of them realise that is owned by ASDA!

sydenhamhiller Wed 23-Jan-13 09:32:07

grin) at the rush for Asda's latest.

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