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Moving to Dubai

(25 Posts)
Movingaround Thu 23-Apr-15 14:53:44

Hi- new to mumsnet so hope I get this right! My husband is in the final stages of getting a job in Dubai... Seems confident enough for me to start planning. Does anyone have any advice? Have two kids 8/6 and looking at Nord Anglia for school. And thinking about Victory Heights or Jumeriah Golf for living... Someone said Arabian Ranches has terrible traffic. I have been on expat woman too but got a bit overwhelmed! I'm half excited and half terrified about this.

mateysmum Thu 23-Apr-15 15:03:38

Congrats on your move!

I lived in Arabian Ranches for 3 years until we returned to the UK in 2011. Traffic was fine then apart from a few minutes in the morning trying to exit at the Motor City end. The exit onto Emirate Rd was always free flowing as it's just a slip road run on. Within the Ranches itself, there aren't any probs. I have a friend who still lives there, so I could double check if you like.

The Ranches is a really nice place to live IMHO. When we first went there it felt really out of the way, but Dubai has moved inland and south towards the Ranches area. Victory Heights was still filling up when we were there.

I'm not familiar with Nord Anglia School Whereabouts is it? As this will be important in deciding where to live. Where will DH be working? MY DS was at JESS Arabian Ranches, but I know you have to put their names down before conception to get a place!

Stick with EXpatwoman. It really is the best place for getting up to date info.

Good Luck and I know there are other Dubai experts on MN, so hopefully they will be able to help.

Movingaround Thu 23-Apr-15 15:41:09

Thanks so much for getting back to me so fast. I think you are right- I need to be brave about expat woman!!
If you could check on the traffic thing that would be fab.
Nord Anglia is a new school (hence having spaces!) and is in Al Barsha South 3. So pretty convenient.
DH would be working near Burj Khalifa so not so easy... GEMS jumeriah primary another option to consider but a bit overwhelmed by the size of it.
Any thoughts really appreciated.

50degreesintheshade Thu 23-Apr-15 16:19:56


The ranches is lovely we lived there for 5 years before moving out due to the horrendous traffic every morning. With the new developments opening just up from the ranches (casa- Arabian ranches 2 and Mudon) the traffic getting out is only going to get worse.

Nord Anglian is positioned just at the top of Hessa Street, afraid to say that this road is incredibly busy every single morning but traffic is just something you have to accept and allow for in Dubai.

Victory Heights is positioned great for this school as you can directly get onto Hessa Street from there and the villas are lovely, again the ranches and Casa (the new ranches which has been built directly behind are lovely) but you will have to allow for getting out in the morning. There is also green community at motor city which is also quite close.

Very few people use expatwoman these days, ask to join the British Mums Dubai facebook page, every question you have will be answered by lovely ladies :-)

Movingaround Thu 23-Apr-15 18:09:47

Thank you thank you! Oh loving the sound of victory heights now. Is it a community with pool and so on (I really have no idea do I!). I've sent a request to that Facebook page, thank you for the tip. Would my husband be ok getting to Burj Khalifa? Not quite as worried about him...

50degreesintheshade Thu 23-Apr-15 18:22:36

There are a few community pools and it is lovely and green ( there is a massive golf course there) depending on what size of villa you have you may even have your own pool. Getting to the downtown area won't be a problem but again downtown does suffer from traffic jams most mornings and evenings I'm afraid!

mateysmum Thu 23-Apr-15 18:24:16

Interesting 50degrees so they finally got Mudon and the area behind the Ranches going. It all ground to a halt in the recession. shame about the traffic. They thought the Ranches junction would prevent any issues.

Why have people deserted Expatwoman?

Burj Khalifa is doable from Victory Heights/Ranches etc as you can go several ways depending on traffic.

If the DC were at GEMS Jumeirah, you could live much closer in, but even 3 years ago, the traffic along the Al Wasl and Sheik Zayed Rd at peak times was horrendous.

50degrees Would Jumeirah Villae Circle etc be an option these days? Still pretty close to Hessa St.

OP pretty well everywhere has pools.

Movingaround Thu 23-Apr-15 18:43:56

Oh this is fab, thank you thank you. Making the excitement now start to overwhelm the fear. I did feel a little guilty filling in the school application form today when I had to put four previous schools for the 8yr old...
ANYWAY! Any top tips for property search websites etc? Just so I can look at property porn really...
Ohhh 7yr old being stroppy about violin practice, better stop dreaming.

Winterwardrobetime Thu 23-Apr-15 18:55:22

Dubizzle for property. Victory heights is great. Lived there for years.

50degreesintheshade Thu 23-Apr-15 19:41:50

Movingaround Fri 24-Apr-15 22:44:11

Thanks for all your help. If I did look at Gems Jumeriah primary it looks like it would be easy for my husband (working at DISC?) if we were in that area. Where could we live round there?

mateysmum Sat 25-Apr-15 14:31:25

The school is in the middle of Jumeirah, once the main expat residential area (in 2003 when I first went there). I used to live just round the corner from JPS (the school). There are loads of small compounds of say 8 - 20 villas and streets of individual villas. There are some lovely houses, but be careful that they are well maintained as many are now old by Dubai standards. I loved living there 10 years ago and in theory it is pretty close to the Burj Khalifa area - a fraction of the distance of the Ranches. But..... the traffic can also be bad along the Al Wasl and Sheik Zayed Rd at peak times. If your DH is going in to work by say 8 am - no problem. If you choose to go at 8.30, it can be gridlock. NB school starts at around 7.45am so the school run would miss the worst of the traffic. School pick up for primary school can also be 1.15pm - check the school.

Jumeirah is close to the beach and there are plenty of neighbourhood shopping areas and coffee shops. It all depends what you like. I would try and look at properties near JPS and also the larger master planned communities such as Ranches/Victory Heights and see what you like and perhaps more importantly what you can afford.

Tweennightmare Sat 25-Apr-15 19:33:56

Hi Movingaround. We are also looking at Nord for my daughter secondary level now (year 8). Have you seen the school we were there last month and was very impressed . This will be our second time in Dubai and by coincidence my daughter was at JPS first time round. Again another great school and my daughter loved it (although quite large and class sizes average 27 which was a slight issue for me). Like matey we lived round the corner from JPS, lovely area to live just a shame they have uprooted safa park to build the canel which has caused a bit of disruption and may affect the traffic for your DH who will be heading that way so may be worth checking

Movingaround Sun 26-Apr-15 09:25:46

Ok am going to get focused today.
Ideally we'd like to replicate the private school, academically demanding, small classes thing we have here. (ideally my son would also select no rugby...) So I think GEMS jumeriah is going to have too big classes. Hurrah. One decision made. Tween nightmare is that why you are moving to Nord Anglia? You sound ideal for your expertise!
So leaving. Foremarke, Nord Anglia and Hartland. (Tween nightmare have you seen these?!) Need to see them I think. And living somewhere out there. Husband normally in office by 7.30/8 and hope about 8 so possibly not too bad traffic wise.
Thanks again I really appreciate people taking the time to help me.

mateysmum Sun 26-Apr-15 10:25:49

Be aware that though the schools in Dubai are fee paying, they are not like a UK independent school, much more like a cosmopolitan, middle class state school. none are what you would call academically demanding. Though that does not mean the teaching is not of a good standard. Repton Dubai claimed to be like its UK mother ship, but it is not.

When you have a student body from over 70 countries, with a large turnover each term and especially in the summer, things are rather different. School sport is limited, though most sports are available in the city. When it is over 40 degrees in ths shade, you do not want kids outside for too long!

You are unlikely to find really small classes of say 15, as unless things have changed dramatically, there is always pressure on school places. Even if you start small at a newly established school, numbers will soon grow.

It is very commmon in Dubai for newcomers to take whatever place they are offered and then move to the school of their choice once a place becomes available. This is especially true at primary level. At secondary level there are a number of good schools, with the selective Dubai College having the most academic reputation.

Are you going for a "look see". Try and do so as it's really easy to get misconceptions about life in Dubai and seeing villas and some schools in the flesh will really help. There are companies that offer a school advisory and place finding service if you or DH's employer will pay for it. I don't have any recommendations, but I'm sure the British Dubai Women's Facebook page will help.

Tweennightmare Sun 26-Apr-15 17:43:20

I agree completely with mateys comments I have always ranked Dubai schools as on par with very good state schools as oppose to private schools. That is not to say the education is not good . I have seen my son go through to GCSE in International schools and he has done brilliantly. I think if you can get over its definatley worth looking at the schools themselves as what I thought would be favourites on paper often dont live up to expectations and vis versa. We are persuing Nord mainly because I was impressed with the class sizes, the teachers (who all made an effort to talk to us and tell me about their teaching), the facilities and also the community feel. ( And we had originally discounted it because of the IB at sixth form) . The school also seemed to be quite strong on languages if your DS is a linguist. Obviously we won't know if its the best fit untill she starts but fingers crossed.
Foremarke and Hartland are both new and only prep so we didn't look at these so cant comment but look great on paper. I did look at Kings which has a very sucessful primary division and I liked the idea of their conceptual teaching but the secondary is a non starter for us as not even built but might be worth investigating for primary (Try for the original Umm Sequim school which has a very good reputation , the other two branches may be too new and chaotic).

Movingaround Sun 26-Apr-15 23:01:41

Thank you so much for taking the time to give us advice. We're biting the bullet and going to come and have a look this week! Mad rush visit but thought we need to see for ourselves. Can't quite believe we are doing it.. Exciting week. I'm going to hit the phone in the morning and see where we can get appointments for and where seems to have places. It is so hard to know until the kids actually start what will work and what won't but at least we can do our best.
Does anyone have any recent experience of GEMS jumeriah?

pacificlass Sun 26-Apr-15 23:48:06

Hi movingaround. Sorry to hijack your thread but we're currently looking at exactly the same schools and areas to live as you. So interested in feedback about schools for kindergarten level. Nord Anglos appears to be full. Does anyone know anything about the new Swiss Scientific school SISD)?

Tweennightmare Mon 27-Apr-15 22:00:56

Good Look with your visit movingaround.
Pacific lass you will probably have the most problem with schools as the early years always fill up quickly. Never heard of SISD but you are on the right track looking at the newer schools as they are most likely to have places Foremarke, Hartland , Kings Al Barsha and Nad al Sheba are all new Safa has a new school too worth checking out. I am sure there are more but I am looking for secondary so a bit out of touch now but good luck

Movingaround Mon 27-Apr-15 22:46:34

Agree with all that. I think we are better off because the children are older. We are off to dubai tomorrow night so I'll let you know how we get on with the viewings we have. We are seeing GEMS Jumeriah, Hartland, Nord Anglia and Foremarke.
We'd also like to drive round some residential areas. Is this going to be possible or do we need to be residents/ be visiting someone?

mateysmum Tue 28-Apr-15 12:55:16

Have a good trip. Hope you see this before you fly.

You can drive freely around the Ranches and Victory Heights etc, but you may not be able to go into individual communities. However, standard procedure is smile, wave, look confident and 10:1, they will open the barrier for you without question. Pop into the retail centre in the Ranches and if it's relevant, Arabian Ranches Golf club - similar at Victory Heights, but I don't know that so well.

Are you planning to drive a hire car or take taxis? If you are intending to drive, some guidelines:
1) Please take a spare set of eyes for the back of your head, they will be very useful.
2) Expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to reckless lane changing into a non existent gap
3) Assume all other drivers are maniacs or stupid and drive defensively!

Driving in Dubai is "interesting" but all the expats do it and it's fine once you get used to it.

Try and go to somewhere like Mall of the Emirates to see what is available and go into a Spinney's supermarket - you sould be pleasantly surprised. If you go to Gems Jumeirah and fancy a coffee or a snack, visit Park n Shop at the end of the street - best English bread in Dubai (they also sell decent sarnies) and there is Shakespeare's coffee shop there and a great children's book shop too. There is a Spinneys and another neighbourhood mall just further along the Al Wasl too.

Temperatures are in the 30's at the moment and rising, but take a cardi as air conditioned spaces can be a bit chilly.

PM me if there's anything specific you want to ask.

Movingaround Tue 28-Apr-15 17:47:13

Thank you, those sound like brilliant tips. I am slightly terrified but also very excited!!!

GoldieMumbles Tue 28-Apr-15 17:58:10

Glad I found this thread!

DH is considering a job in Dubai, and we have two small children - 5 & nearly 3. It probably wouldn't be until next year, but I'm curious to know what life is like there.

Sorting out my contract or possibly suspending it for a while is one of the many things that would need doing. As far as we understand, DH's employer would help with accommodation and school fees.

We're quite keen on the idea, but there's still a lot to sort out!

Any advice would be great!


pacificlass Tue 28-Apr-15 20:59:43

Thanks for the suggestions tweennightmare. We're currently living in NZ so trying to do this off the Internet as an 18 hour+ flight with a 3 year old is a bit far for a long weekend look-see! Am hearing good things about Hartland off another forum. Now to work out where to live!

Vagabond Sat 02-May-15 14:13:24

My sister lives in Victory Heights and loves it. Her children go the the GEMS school at Sports City so the school run is less than a few minutes. It is American curriculum though.

I have lived at Arabian Ranches and it was great but I think Victory Heights is so much better and the roads are so good that you can get to Dubai Marina, Jumeirah in about 15 minutes.

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