Get useful expat articles, health and financial news, social media recommendations and more in your inbox each month - free!

We respect your privacy - we don't spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners

Expat Experiences

United Arab Emirates > Expat Experiences

United Arab Emirates

Lynda Martinez, Dubai

Posted by: Carole on Saturday April 12, 2014 (03:04:51)
Lynda Martinez
Lynda Martinez

Who are you?

I am a daughter (4th of 5), sister, wife, mom of 3, aunt of 9, photography enthusiast, and former high school teacher from Texas living in Dubai.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

We moved to the UAE in late 2010 because my husband’s company transferred him to Dubai.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Opening a bank account where I could be added to my husband’s account proved surprisingly complicated.

Apparently giving married women equal control of the family finances is not something that is granted easily here. Other than that, we faced normal challenges such as finding the right nursery for our children and learning how to navigate around the city.

How did you find somewhere to live? (e.g. how did you locate a suitable property? what was the buying/renting process like?)

I can’t provide much insight into the issue of housing because we were lucky to have this arranged by my husband’s company.

Are there many other expats in your area?

In Dubai, most areas will have plenty of expats since more than 80% of the population is made up expatriates. In my neighborhood there is a nice mix of both locals and expats.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

Unfortunately I don’t have any Emirati friends, nor does anyone I know. My interaction with locals is only superficial (at stores, playgrounds, etc.). From my limited experience in these types of situations, it seems difficult to break into their social circles. However, I hear that once you get to know them, they are very friendly and loyal. I attended an Emirati wedding with a friend and the sisters of the bride were incredibly hospitable and welcoming.

What do you like about life where you are?

The travel opportunities are amazing. Places like India, Turkey, Sri Lanka and Jordan are all within a four hour flight away, less time than it would take to fly from Houston to Seattle.

I’ve really enjoyed learning more about the Middle East and local culture. I am still fascinated by cultural differences and similarities which makes daily life interesting. I also really appreciate living close to the beautiful beach and magnificent desert.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Being far away from family is difficult, and I miss celebrating holidays the way we do at home since Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas are just normal working days here. These issues are becoming more of a concern as my children get older. The long flight home and accompanying jet lag are no fun either!

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

Not a day goes by in Dubai when you are not reminded of the extreme disparity in wealth that exists in this city. Of course very poor people and the ultra rich exist in the US as well, but here the divide is even greater. In the US, climbing the socioeconomic ladder might be very difficult, but it is possible. My parents are proof of that. Here, on the other hand, even if a laborer works with amazing fortitude under exceedingly harsh circumstances, there is no possibility of advancement. I never truly appreciated how important the “American Dream” and resulting optimism were until moving here. I find it deeply unsettling that it is unavailable to so many.

How does shopping (for food/clothes/household items etc.) differ compared to back home?

Luckily, you can find pretty much everything from home in Dubai, but it might take a few trips to find it. The main difference is the price, as things here are much more expensive. Shop and Ship with Aramex is a great option for buying items from home that are not too heavy to send.

What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

Cuisines from all over the world are available, so it’s easy to find something to satisfy most cravings. I do miss decent Mexican food though (although there are a couple of newer places I haven’t tried yet), and I wish Emirati food was more accessible.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Seek out local culture and make the most of travel opportunities. Have patience and keep an open mind.

What are your plans for the future?

That’s a fabulous question, and one I get regularly from friends and family. Our initial plan was to stay for 2-3 years, which we have now exceeded. Our future depends on where my husband’s job takes us, and at the moment, that’s uncertain.

Linda shares more information about expat life in UAE through her popular blog, Longhorns and Camels.

Link  QR 

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna International

Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

Aviva International

Health is your number one priority. At Aviva we understand this, which is why we’re focused on helping you and your family access high quality healthcare at home or overseas. Our award winning medical insurance will help you get the treatment you need or simply provide guidance and advice wherever you are, 24/7.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.

Cigna International

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.