Insight into life in the UAE from an Irish Nurse who worked at Cleveland Clinic, Abu Dhabi
Where are you from?
Where in the UAE did you live, and how long were you there?
I lived in Abu Dhabi for 4 and a half years
Have you visited other cities in the Emirates, and how do they compare?
Dubai - Lots to see and do. Great nightlife
Ras Al Khaimah - lovely countryside and great for camping and hiking
Did you experience culture shock when you first arrived in the UAE?
Not really. I expected it to be rigorous but was pleasantly surprised at how liberal it was
Is life in the UAE what you hoped it would be?
No, it was much better than I had expected. With so many expats living there, it feels you could be in any city around the world.
Was there anything that took you by surprise about the UAE?
Yes, I was surprised to have such a fantastic social scene there
Do you feel much more restricted than at home?
No not really, once you learn the culture and know where and when you can do certain things
Is it easy to move about freely as a woman?
Yes, I had my car over there. Also, it's very safe for women to travel in taxis or walk around.
What are relations like between men & women?
Mostly good. I don't feel I was treated any different to men as an expat.
Are you able to communicate effectively with residents in English?
Yes mostly. As the locals are very family-oriented, they are usually in groups, and at least 1 of the group regularly speaks English
Is the work environment very different from your home country?
I worked for an American company, so it was a very westernised environment
Is it a safe place to live?
What is the social scene like?
It is fantastic! There is any amount of social clubs to get involved in, from sports to dancing. Lots of pubs and clubs
Is the cost of living as high as everyone says?
Yes it is an expensive place to live, but if you have your accommodation paid for by the employer, then your wages is disposable income, so you can still save money while enjoying yourself. You can find discounts on almost anything.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of coming to work in the UAE?
Have a savings plan from the beginning and stick to it. Get involved in social events from the start, as it was great for meeting people. While it does feel very liberal, and it is easy to forget that you are living in a strict Muslim country, you must always remember to be respectful of their culture and laws.