A personal account from our HR & Business Development Manager, Melissa Bremner, on her decision to move to Dubai and why you should consider it too!
I work in HR for HMS homes and have lived here for almost 2 happy years, all of which has been spent as part of team HMS.
This is an account written from my own perspective and is reflective entirely of my views only so I will make it known now – I LOVE Dubai. But before I begin my love letter to Dubai, I will explain (not so) briefly how I ended up here.
Why I moved to Dubai
I first visited Dubai for my birthday in 2014 and it was love at first fountain show. Prior to this, however, the Middle East never really came in to my consciousness. I certainly wouldn’t have imagined I’d move here even though my Grandmother, who visited Dubai for the first time in 2001, raved about it (as much as a Grandmother can rave)!
Previously, my (media-influenced and under-researched) opinion of Dubai had been – it wasn’t ‘me’, ‘it’s too fake’, ‘it has no soul’ – I was quoting words I’d heard carelessly thrown around without actually having any proper reasoning behind what I was saying.
I love my homeland of beautiful Blighty, I really do and I am so proud to identify as both Scottish and British. We have a rich history and so much natural beauty and I believe we do take it for granted tremendously.
My journey to work in Edinburgh took me on a tour of some of the most beautiful architecture, passing historic venues of distinction and finishing up on the Royal Mile at the venue I worked in – a stunning, Georgian law library. But that didn’t make up for the fact that my journey there was spent mostly trudging through the rain and I needed something else.
I recently had an Aussie friend of mine, who is a complete anglophile, tell me I was insane for ever moving from the UK. Well, Aussie chum, when you grow up in a place where you can never plan a barbecue or really anything outdoors it starts to make you wonder what more the world has to offer you.
People that plan outdoor weddings in the UK are honestly on a level of bravery I will just never know. Why should I spend my life needing a wet weather plan for literally everything? There is a reason why us Brits spend our lives counting down to sunshine – it’s because we don’t get enough of it! Imagine being able to plan an activity outdoors or not having to carry your umbrella round when it’s a rare 25 degree day “just in case” there’s a downpour.
So, here’s what brings me to my next and most important point………
18 REASONS WHY I LOVE DUBAI (and why you might too)!
1. TEAM HMS HOMES
It would be unjust to write a blog about why I love Dubai without first beginning with a shout out to the company I work for. HMS homes have been a huge part of my Dubai adventure and I feel very fortunate to be part of their continued growth and evolution.
I joined HMS as a broker in September 2016 and one thing that immediately struck me was how warm and friendly my colleagues and directors were from the get-go.
Coming from a wedding planner background, I hadn’t worked in such a straight talking, male dominated environment before and was admittedly intimidated at the prospect. However, those feelings soon dissipated thanks to the ambient work surroundings, open door policy of our directors and friendly personalities within the company.
In 2017, the HMS directors gave me an opportunity to move in to a different area of the business where I could really utilise my existing skill set and continuously develop and improve. Every day is different and I love being part of such a young, dynamic and ambitious company!
Stating the obvious here but when you live in a place with 365 days of sunshine, this fact can’t very well be ignored.
Waking up to sunshine.
Walking in sunshine.
Eating al fresco in sunshine.
Having drinks in sunshine.
Exercising in sunshine.
Staring out the window to sunshine.
Talking about sunshine.
You get the gist – SUNSHINE!
Okay, it isn’t *much* fun in the summer months but they don’t last long and we are all in this as a collective, just sweating it out together!
Activities, all the activities. There is always something happening in Dubai and often, they are free and for children and adults of all ages. As a resident here, we are also entitled to discounts across a huge amount of venues and attractions with our Emirates ID.
When I was growing up, my parents used to despair about how to entertain us kids during the summer holidays. I can’t possibly imagine having had the options that we have here in Dubai. And because the summer can make for uncomfortable outdoor activities, there are plenty of things to do indoors too – we even have indoor theme parks and ski slopes here.
It is impossible to get bored in Dubai!
4. SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL MAKTOUM – RULER OF DUBAI
I can’t very well write a gushy post about Dubai without mentioning the man who essentially created the Dubai we know and love today. Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the visionary leader of Dubai and the creator of everything you see around you.
Dubai is an absolute monarchy and it is fascinating to live in a place where citizens of the country not only have respect for their ruler but they actually love and adore him.
No politicians = no political debates = no armchair politicians (thanks for that, Facebook). Having suffered through two incredibly divisive referendums, it is a breath of fresh air that the topic of conversation here is very rarely politically charged.
Yes, this model obviously only works if the ruler in question is a Sheikh Mo (as he’s affectionately known here) type but it just shows what a leader with a global view rather than insular vision can do.
The UAE is a growing and evolving country. Laws and rules are changed as and when it is called for. It doesn’t take years having to go through a parliamentary procedure only to get blocked at the last hurdle.
No country is perfect, but the UAE is constantly improving itself and striving to be better day by day, year on year.
5. TOLERANCE OF OTHER CULTURES
Dubai is home to over 200 nationalities and one of Sheikh Mohammed’s most valuable lessons is the promotion of tolerance within the UAE. To tolerate one another’s beliefs and heritage and to live and let live. We do not need to understand why another person thinks or feels the way they do but we should be able to exist alongside each other in peace, regardless of colour or creed. Something the rest of the world could look to Dubai for right about now!
We are all different and we accept that of each other. The UAE is a Muslim country and as such we must respect their customs, laws and traditions. But the harmony in which we can all live together while all coming from different backgrounds is exemplary.
6. EX-PAT COMMUNITY
I have never lived anywhere with such a feeling of community and I am originally from a small town myself! Many of us rely on this support network of people to settle in to our adopted home and though I can’t account for other nationalities, I can say with confidence that the British community here is particularly helpful. At home, I would never have used a Facebook group to connect to other people but in Dubai, this is the norm.
Facebook groups such as Brits in Dubai, British Expats Dubai and Dubai Social Ladies helped me to settle in Dubai quicker than I could ever have imagined and I always recommend our new recruits join these. Having a network of fellow British people who you can relate to and with whom you can ask questions of is an incredible tool to utilise.
It would be impossible to leave shopping off the list when Dubai is home to the biggest and arguably the most impressive mall in the world, Dubai Mall. The malls here aren’t just shopping destinations, they are places people spend their entire weekend with great restaurants and entertainment outlets (as well as the odd ski slope and ice rink!).
I will forever find myself lost in Dubai Mall and I think that’s the idea!
Dubai attracts all kinds of global events and entertainers and throughout the year we have access to these things that are sometimes free of charge or significantly cheaper than they would be in the UK!
I am a certified Belieber and there is zero chance I’d have managed to get tickets for one of his concerts at home!
9. DUBAI FRIENDS = FAMILY
When I joined HMS homes, I was the only female broker and realised quickly that I couldn’t rely on work to make friends the way many of the gents do here. So, I posted on one of the ex-pat Facebook groups above and one ladies night later I had a whole new social group!
Friendships seem to be expedited here and your friends quickly become family – there is a sense of fast tracking to friendship as you never know how long people will stay in Dubai. From my experience, people are far more willing and open to extending the arm of friendship than anywhere else I’ve lived in the world. We are all on this amazing adventure together!
10.STAYCAYS & VACAYS
The amazing thing about the UAE is how unique each emirate is, with Dubai being arguably the most ‘famous’ of the 7 emirates and as such the most popular destination for tourists. As a resident here, we are fortunate to have some fantastic areas to explore right on our doorstep.
Whether it’s staying in Dubai at one of our stunning five star resorts, hiking up a mountain in Ras Al Khaimah, getting cultural in the capital, Abu Dhabi or going for a lazy beach holiday in Fujairah, there is something for everyone.
Dubai International Airport is our gateway to the world and with the likes of Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Thailand within 6 hours of Dubai, it is also the perfect mid-way point to visit many of the world’s treasures!
Dubai is no stranger to a wow-factor building and features some of the most remarkable sky scrapers in the world.
The Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Cayan Tower and Atlantis are just a few examples of the magnificent architecture that Dubai has to offer. Did you know Dubai has built a replica of Big Ben? Go on Google it, it’s called Al Yaqoub Tower.
And it’s not just the record breakers that are impressive! Apartment buildings generally include a swimming pool, gym, steam room, jacuzzi and sauna as standard so though you may pay more in rent here than you did at home, the facilities tend to be far better.
In the UK, you are lucky if your building has an elevator!
12. BOAT TRIPS, BRUNCHES & BEACHES
For 9 months of the year when the weather is perfect, boat trips, outdoor events and all beaches are easily accessible, affordable and so much fun!
A #MyDubai photo opp with your besties on a yacht with the Burj Al Arab as a backdrop is almost an ex-pat rite of passage!
13. AGE IS ONLY A NUMBER
Dubai is friendly across all ages and bars, restaurants and beach clubs are often a mixed bag of ages. You can bring a new born baby to brunch along with your 91 year old Grandmother (true story) and everyone is happy because there is something for everyone. Just don’t sit too close to the band!
For the vast majority of people here, English is their second language yet I have never had to try and converse in a different language to be understood. I’m not sure how far my (extremely basic) A level French would get me if I had to rely on it but I have nothing but admiration and respect for those that work and live in an environment where their mother tongue is not widely used.
As a resident you will also learn some key Arabic phrases such as ‘shukran’ meaning thank you, ‘yalla’ meaning let’s go and ‘insh’Allah’ basically meaning no without saying no (kind of wish us Brits had this though – we do love a roundabout way of saying no)!
Although dust is part and parcel of living in the desert, one thing you notice almost immediately is how clean everything is (except the windows!). Beaches, sidewalks and public areas are regularly manicured and litter free which is in stark contrast to, sadly, many of our public areas in the UK!
16. EMIRATES ID / SMART GATES
Perhaps not an obvious choice for reasons why you might love Dubai but immigration at DXB is smooth sailing when you have that little card – cruising through the smart gates with smug traveller face while the non-residents wait in lengthy queues!
I was born on November 5th. Fireworks are kind of a thing for me and there are so many firework displays across the city particularly in peak tourist season and I will never get bored of it!
18. SEEING THE UK AS A VISITOR
Being so far away from my other home has also given me a new appreciation for where I’m originally from. When I lived in Edinburgh, I would see my family for one or two days at a time and, working in events, Christmas vacation was always short.
Now, I am able to spend time with friends and family when I return and my focus is entirely on them! And living in one of the most exciting cities in the world means you are never short of visitors to Dubai, even from those who never thought they’d see themselves here.
It goes without saying that you should appreciate your family, but Dubai has given me a renewed sense of appreciation for those I am apart from. I have encountered people across the world who haven’t seen their family or been to their home country in 5 years and that really resonates with me. Last year I saw my family 5 times and I appreciate that privilege so much more now than I ever did!
I also can’t deny that I love a UK high street shopping splurge the moment I land (hello Primark!) and being able to buy things for a pound will never get old.
WHAT THE FUTURE HAS IN STORE FOR DUBAI
Is there anywhere quite like Dubai? Most likely not. Laying claim to a multitude of superlatives, it is the fastest growing city in the world and boasts more record breakers than most cities or even countries can ever dream of. Skyscrapers rise from the sand and islands appear from the sea in what can feel like weeks.
Much like many of it’s residents, Dubai is full of ambition and will never accept the status quo – it is constantly growing, continuously evolving and consistently excelling.
Giving testimony to the emirate’s ability to attract big business from abroad is the recent announcement of Caesar’s Palace joining Dubai’s ever-growing list of impressive Las Vegas venues such as 1OAK and Drais. And with Expo 2020 drawing ever closer, every week and month sees the launch of more exciting projects designed to ensure that Dubai continues to thrive as both a tourist and business destination.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what Dubai has in store for us and I am excited to be part of the journey with HMS homes because we are both in it for the long run!
Keep an eye out for our next blog post:- A guide to renting in Dubai for tenants!