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UAE? Any thoughts?

(17 Posts)
BiddyPop Tue 05-Mar-13 08:18:31

Hi all, I am hoping for some advice.

DH and I periodically talk about moving overseas, and have done for years. Between uncertainty in his sector and a desire to go overseas anyway (experience and lifestyle), we've always looked at it vaguely.

DH is currently working overseas 50% of his time, commuting 2-3 weeks away and 2-3 weeks home (same location but cannot leave things there). When he's here, he still works FT (50+ hrs/week). I also work FT and we have a 7 year old DD (who has HF Aspergers/ADHD).

Things in the home office have been problematic for a while, but while away this trip, his main ally has been sent on secondment for 18 months, the main protagonist has gone from being about to be fired to getting plenty of responsibility again (despite incompetence) and DH is now ticked off enough to say he wants out NOW instead of our talk of 12-18 months time. (When we would have gone to the US where I could get something). He could come home in 2 weeks with it all "sorted" and expect to move in summer (comms are not easy where he is, and he SHOULD consider me in it, but he sounds majorly ticked this time).

Does anyone know anything about the UAE - what is it like to live there? DH would be going within his company - would I be able to work? What is the story with schooling, activities for DD, and support for SN's? What is day to day life like there? For EU citizens, what is paperwork etc like?

Even small things, like is it one of the restrictive countries in ME or is alcohol allowed, can you wear shorts/t-shirts or need to cover head, can women drive, play sports etc?

I just want to get an idea of what it's really like, and what might be a runner or not to talk in the few minutes we get.
Thanks in advance.

Barbie1 Tue 05-Mar-13 08:24:04

I lived in Dubai for 4 years and loved it. I know it's a place that regularly gets slated on here though.

Where abouts will you be based?

BiddyPop Tue 05-Mar-13 09:15:23

As of yet, I have no idea! Apparently there is currently a project going on - but we literally get a couple of minutes conversation per day to catch up on everything (broadband is fairly bad where he is now, time differences mean only talking very late for him and in the middle of dinner preps here, and he was almost incoherent with rage last night too at local office here). All he said was UAE.

Sorry, I know it's vague - that's why I am asking for any info to have a half a chance to talk to him tonight.

Barbie1 Tue 05-Mar-13 09:29:19

Ok, I only have experience of Dubai but I can honestly say it was the best four years of my life and I would go back tomorrow if it wasn't for us having to relocate to Korea in a few months for dh work.

You need to find out what is included in the contract

Housing can be expensive and most require a years rent upfront. However lately some landlords will except three dated cheques.

Schooling can be a problem and also expensive. Most require names down years in advance and most parents end up paying a fee of 500aed for registration to a number of schools with no garentee of placement and will lose the money.

Most health care is private and very good, again make sure you have insurance included in the contract.

I drank more alcohol there than I have anywhere else grin it's a very sociable place!

Very western, I used to shop in waitrose and didn't go without anything in the four years we lived there.

Sorry for typos, small teething baby hanging off me!

Let me know if I can help more.

Barbie1 Tue 05-Mar-13 09:31:55

I also drove, worked (after dh wrote a letter permitting me too!) wore shorts and only covered head while on the beach wink

Paper work can be daunting but your dh company should sort most of it out for you.

You will need to do visas and blood test etc once you arrive but it takes no more than a morning.

I would say go for it. Good luck!

BiddyPop Tue 05-Mar-13 10:16:29

Thanks Barbie - am googling in between actually doing my paid work this morning!! But that helps set my mind at rest somewhat.

Lavenderhoney Tue 05-Mar-13 12:25:04

Go on expatwoman as well, for lots of Dubai info, and dubizzle to look at villas - make sure your allowance is enough for a villa, car, etc. you will get visas and health insurance plus flights home as part of your package. Note that the majority of sahm in Dubai ( and there are lots) leave July and aug as its very very hot- too hot to go outside and it's also Ramadan. Factor in this cost as if you rent out your house you will have to stay somewhere. Unless you stay in Dubai- there are lots of summer camps (indoor) but its so expensive it's probably cheaper to rent a villa in Spain for 2 months! Cost of living is high.

There is support and help for sn in Dubai, google and you will find groups and centres. Timeout kids is a good way to see what is on offer for activities too.

BiddyPop Tue 05-Mar-13 15:33:52

Thanks Lavendar Honey - will have a look at those tonight too. (Need to get some work done today - have done some googling and arranged lunch with a friend (based here) and her friend (currently home from Oman) next week as well).

dubaipieeye Wed 06-Mar-13 10:48:59

Hello! Guess where I live?! We are extremely happy here and have no plans to return to the UK. Dubai is a fab place for kids. Feel free to pm me for any detailed info. Happy to help.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 07-Mar-13 01:59:49

I lived there for a year 2008-9. We moved to HK as DH got a promotion, but we would both move back if something came up.

- Dubai is the most liberal Emirate. Abu Dhabi is more conservative, but do-able. I wouldn't consider any of the others.
- You can drink in hotels, bars attached to hotels (of which there are many), and at home if you have an alcohol license. Duty free allowances are extremely generous.
- You can drive and cars and fuel are very cheap
- You can work and childcare is very cheap (live in, full time)
- You can wear what you want within reason. I tended to cover my shoulders and knees. Not all westerners do, but personally I felt like I should at least nod towards the local customs. Beachwear is fine on the beach or by the pool, but you cant wander into a mall in a bikini top and denim hot pants
- The weather is nice for 8 months of the year and it hardly ever rains


- The weather is bastard hot and humid for 3/4 months of the year and if you're working, you wont be able to do what many expat families do and ship out for the (very long) school holidays
- The bureaucracy and "Inshallah" attitude from the authorities/ tradesmen etc can drive you insane
- It's a very very unequal society. You will see a lot of people, mainly from the sub-continent, working in very bad conditions in construction, cleaning etc. I'm a realist and I know that not employing these people won't improve their lives, but at the same time, I think the authorities need to step up re. living conditions, etc.
- There is no culture, so if you cant live without opera and fringe theatre, forget it. Abu Dhabi has a lot more, actually, because they have bigger venues. They get some big pop concerts, but not a lot of "high culture"

That said, the main thing that would concern me is your son's ADHD/Aspergers. Hopefully someone who lives there now can offer more advice, but when I was there one of the main complaints was that the schools could be pretty non-accommodating of any children that needed extra support in the classroom. Possibly start a new thread asking about that, as I think it's very important to get that nailed down. Even if a school accepts him, they may not be able to provide the support he needs or have a proper understanding of how to even do that.

Isthiscorrect Thu 07-Mar-13 02:59:57

I currently live in Dubai and have done for a number of years. Totally agree with all the info below except to say I have never covered my head except when visiting a mosque. I do cover my shoulders and knees in shopping malls and on our very local street.
We have been very happy here and had lots of fun, traveling etc. There is culture, mainly in Abu Dhabi. the Emirate literary festival is currently taking place, have a google of that. Friends flew to muscat to the opera a few weeks ago ;-) it was amazing and doesn't take long. They actually have an opera house. Local travel by plane is cheap and easy.

However the most important is your son. Speak to Philipa Bodien at Jumeriah Primary School, she will be able to assist. I'm not sure what it actually means with regard to what you say about your ds so apologies if this is a step too far. Check out St Andrews school for special needs, it's a lovely caring environment but I think maybe not right for your ds as its not mainstream integrated.

Don't bother with JESS as the wait list is LONG unless you company has a debenture. Also don't expect for yourself to find getting a job easy. Expatwoman has a jobs section to give you an idea of the types of jobs, pay isn't great and you will need the aforementioned long summer off.

Any questions pm me.

Labootin Thu 07-Mar-13 03:27:06

phillippa bodien is now at Wellington (the al sufouh one)

Labootin Thu 07-Mar-13 03:36:25

St Andrews owner Irrc did a bunk last year taking all the money and leaving the gates locked on the first day of term .. I think another school stepped in to help out existing pupils but there is afaik no St Andrews.

Labootin Thu 07-Mar-13 03:46:36

Looks like its still running

Apologies just back from school run (school starts here at 7.30 am) and I NEED coffee.

Isthiscorrect Fri 08-Mar-13 06:08:08

Apologies Biddypop, about Philipa (thanks labootin). I wasnt aware that she had moved but I dont have primary kids by a long shot ;-) So now you had at least 2 places to try JPS do still have and excellent SFL centre as do WIS (aka Wellington International in Al Sufouh).
Just be aware everything is named by accronyms so if you dont get something just ask.
As an aside I cant imagine that anyone here works less than 50 hours a week, also as Friday /Saturday is the weekend if you work internationally basically they work all weekend whilst the rest of the world is working Friday, semi working Saturday, and of course time differences always mean late night early morning phone calls. However international travel is easy from here.

BiddyPop Fri 08-Mar-13 13:34:35

Thanks Labootin and Isthiscorrect, I have been looking at various bits and pieces and trying to get my head around it all (literally spring from the blue this week) and it's manic at work and home too. But I did see your posts and will probably have loads of Qs after the weekend (proper catchup time for me!)

RashedMohamed Thu 27-Jun-13 08:14:22

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