Great city, but has a few issues for expats

So, did it take you long to settle in?

Depending on who you are, and what your circumstances are at work and with your family it does take a while to settle into Dubai.  Sometimes the people that work find it difficult to understand the way you work and what you are used to be doing and they do not understand the pace that you can work at – and this either threatens them or challenges them, that can become difficult to make friends at work or even outside.

I came here from Australia and from the technology sector, and even though Sydney is no Silicon Valley, I found that my level of in-depth knowledge in the areas of software specialisation that I was in was ahead of what I saw here – at least in my place of work. And people found it strange socially and from an ethnicity point of view to accept me as I am , right of the bat. I am Australian – Jamaican, I have a deep Australian accent but I look as Jamaican (“say dark skinned, and that’s fine”) as it gets. For some strange reason, that combination of Australian and Jamaican led people to believe that I was either a cricketer or a musician.

How did you decide to come to Dubai?

I found a job advertised on LinkedIn that seemed right up my sleeve, and applied. And after a couple of phone interviews got offered the job. I am single, I am young, never been outside Australia, it seemed a great opportunity to see a bit of the world. And the money was good.

What were your first impressions of Dubai?

Dubai gets a lot of hype in the world press – whether you are watching the BBC, CNN, or any other global tv. Dubai is about the biggest this, the longest that, the tallest building and so many records, you hear about Dubai all the time. It is a city of legend – of achievement. And you come here, and once you’ve seen it around for a few weeks, you get to understand that it is all part of what Dubai is about. The people here aren’t so enamored by it, it is almost taken for granted. It is a fairly modern city, but it does have the gritty side as well. I like to walk around on weekends and holidays, and I discovered sides of Dubai that weren’t on Trip Advisor, if you get my drift. Nothing negative, just a well rounded city.

And you liked your job, working in Dubai?

No, not at first. But I do now. As I far as I know the government of Dubai has a load of ambitious plans for making Dubai a very smart city, and to make it technologically advanced. This means that the opportunities that I might get with my background in technology and advanced coding will be increasingly more open to advancement so I’m quite looking forward to being here for a little bit.

And, socially, are you all ‘fitted in’?

Getting into the Dubai social scene is not so easy.  You’re up against people who routinely drive up to pubs and clubs in Porsches and Ferraris, order bottle service, have the best eye candy on their arms, they seem to be the barometer of what’s happening on the social scene even though that is not true. For some reason, I found it difficult to socialise particularly in the light out scene. I was working long hours and really didn’t have the time to indulge in going out regularly but when I did I found that people were very close knit in their circles and where reluctant to let new people in to those groups.

Yes I am a lot better ‘fitted in’ as you say, right now, because I’ve made friends, and some of my colleagues are interested in the same kind of things that I am, and who are willing to make time for each other and who have a better understanding and better empathy for people and their backgrounds and their situations.