Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Expat Experiences: "Young and Foolish" - United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Who are you?

I’m Young and Foolish - A British expat.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

After working on short contracts in Europe in the early 00´s we decided to look for opportunities to live and work abroad. I took a Contract in Saudi Arabia, but unfortunately the security situation rapidly worsened and I did the first year out there alone. My family joined me for a short while when the situation calmed down somewhat before moving onto another contract in Abu Dhabi, in the UAE

What challenges did you face during the move?

Both practical and cultural ones. Working on a contracted, self employed basis, there was no support from agents, or company P/ GRO´s to get the logistics taken care of. I was lucky knowing people in the city and they were able to help us with basics like directions to the utility and government offices etc. Forums (like EF) were also invaluable during that time.

Culturally, we also had it all to learn again. Believing (as I did) that living and working in one Middle Eastern country prepares you for another one was a trap I certainly fell into. There was also a distinct difference between my experiences working with a very high proportion of local nationals and my family who met very few. We did however make a conscious choice to live "in town" with local neighbours etc rather than going for a stereotypical Expat compound and I’m glad we did...

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