Back to the future in Dubai. An Interview with a young expat from Canada

A Dubai expat shares his point of view on moving to Dubai, working in Dubai and living in the city. An interview that will help all expats in Dubai learn a few points.

How long have you lived in Dubai?

Well, this time around five years. I lived here in in Dubai, in my early school years before moving to Canada, because my parents moved there. They immigrated.

While we respect your privacy for this interview and will either change your name or not use one at all, just a couple of quick demographics to get out of the way…


How old are you now if you don’t mind?

I’m 28 well 29 almost.

And where are you from, meaning where is your family from?

What I should really say I am Canadian because my parents are diehard Canadians and they moved there when I was very young, and I have a Canadian passport, and I do love Canada, I go back regularly. My parents, originally yes they are from Lebanon. I am Lebanese in that way.

And you did your schooling here, before you went to Canada with your family?

Just for a few years, just up to Middle School, so grade 6 I think.

And you came back to Dubai from Canada?

Yes, actually. I find that a lot of young people who were raised here in Dubai, who went to school and high school here, go abroad either to Europe, Australia, and North America meaning – the US or Canada – but they somehow find a way back here like I did. There seems to be some kind of a magnet that draws people back to Dubai. 

I had just finished my university in Montréal in Canada and was looking to settle down there, when my brother, meaning my elder brother, found a job in Dubai that was very lucrative. He works in Oil and Gas.

Literally, within a few months of him having moved here, he kept on asking me to join in here. I was in Montréal, I don’t speak French very well, and I was finding it difficult to find a job that I really wanted to be in. So my brother finally won in the end and I decided to move back to Dubai. Honestly, it’s a toss up. I love living in Canada I loved the country the freedom, the environment, and everything that comes with it,  but I love Dubai and its vibrancy.

Just want to add that even though my parents are from Lebanon, and lived here in Dubai for a few years before moving to Canada for good, they would never come back to Dubai, or Lebanon. They live in Quebec, they speak fluent French, and they love it. Dubai was just a transit for them I think. And they were rather upset that I came back here, or that my brother did as well. Well, now my brother is planning to leave Dubai. Figure that out…

And, what did you do when you first came to Dubai?

Well, I was staying with my brother, who was already doing pretty well with one of the oil companies here in Dubai. Took me a while to find a job – and that was a job in marketing. 

How long is a while? When you say it took you a while to find a job?

I think it took me around four months to find a job.  Sent out my CV to many companies and my brother also tried to help but it does take a while to land on your feet and that applies to any anywhere and not just Dubai. Having said that, I must admit that I feel that Dubai is a very competitive job market. Unless you’re extremely specialised or are skilled in areas that are in high demand, simply need to be patient. One of the problems is that your visit Visa runs out so you either need to make a quick Visa run to renew it or you simply give up and go back to where you came from.

And were you sure you were going to find something, stick around?

Look, no one really knows whether they are going to find the perfect job, and be happy going forward.  It’s just that I got lucky I found two consecutive jobs that worked out for me and I moved easily from one to the other. In my second job I had a fantastic mentor who actually knew that I wasn’t right for the job I was in and he decided to help me  – he made some phone calls and decided to move me out of the position I was in –  to a different company perhaps. And he did.

So, that was like a solid step towards the future?

I don’t think it was a single solid step – it was part of many steps towards building my future, but yes, towards coming back to Dubai and settling in for longer than I thought, yes. I think that my mentor, this guy who has been in the business for 30+ years, saw something in me which highlighted the fact that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I could be a better person in a better place and do something better for myself, and for everybody else around me given the chance. That’s so much a positive signal for me, of what Dubai had to offer for me, that’s recognition of potential.

Are you happy now, this is it then, Dubai for the long haul?

I came back to Dubai because I thought that I could build my future here so yes I came back to the future.  The more I see what is happening around me and the more I read about the plans that our government here in Dubai and in the UAE have for the future it seems that it would be the right place to put down one’s anchor. But it’s really difficult to say.

What industry or segment do you work in now?

I work in banking and finance and I’m really happy with that because I was in marketing before and it was same old. Now I work directly in finance and the bank is teaching me a lot as I go along, so far at least.

Where do you live? Any comments?

I live in Dubai Marina  – I mean come on, where else do you think young people who are on the up and up live in Dubai? Sometimes I get bored with the glamorous and bright lights and the city that Dubai is – and I long for nature and maybe going somewhere where I can get a break from the hustle and bustle. In Canada, it was different, you could just escape to find nature in an hour from the city. But you cannot compare, should not compare. Look I’m here for now, I’m good for now, and we’ll see about the future later.