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My First Impressions Of Dubai: By A Newbie Mama In The Desert

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Here’s one new mama’s take on life in the desert city with her hubby and little one

It has been 8 weeks since I arrived to live in the desert with my husband and our little girl. In some ways it feels like way longer since we left our cold little island of Ireland but some days it seems like we have been here for ages. I don’t think I was prepared mentally or physically for our move to Dubai. My husband and I had been toying with the idea of moving for about a year but in the end our move happened really quickly. I was offered a job before we moved over so we brought our planned leaving date forward and got on the plane. I guess I would consider myself to be a risk-taker. I take the risk quite quickly but spend many weeks afterwards over-thinking the situation and driving myself crazy. Everyone from Ireland keeps asking us if we have settled. Everyone in Dubai keeps telling us we will feel settled in about 12 months. There is nothing straight forward about moving to Dubai but it’s hard to explain that to anyone at home, to anyone that hasn’t experienced the meaning of the term “Inshallah.”

nessa and her son

Some things I have noted since moving to Dubai:

1. Dubai isn’t like any of the other cities I have visited.

You can’t just park up your car and wander aimlessly around the city. You go everywhere with purpose here. The city is spread out over miles and there’s a lot of driving to be done here to get from one location to the next. You also need a pretty big car to feel safe on the roads here. Don’t even get me started on the roundabouts.

2. People work really hard here but they also play really hard.

It’s such a sociable place and we have been invited to so many great events and celebrations since we arrived. As an expat, other expats really do look out for you. People really make the effort to include your children here. Unlike at home, people really mean it when they tell you to bring your kids along to a social gathering or celebration. They aren’t secretly hoping you will actually leave the kids at home. People also plan their weekends in advance here which is great for organisational freaks like me that love to know what they are doing ahead of time. And obviously now that we don’t have an abundance of willing babysitters/aunts/uncles/grandparents on hand, it’s great to be able to book a babysitter ahead of time.

Read more: 4 Life Hacks to Make Living in Dubai Easier

3. It’s really hard to say no to brunch/lunch/dinner invitations

But we also have to try to keep a hold on our purse strings. Socialising comes at a high cost in Dubai. Obviously alcohol is expensive here but I’ve justified the price of a glass (or 20) of wine which quite frankly I’d pay the same for a bottle of wine at home. Whilst the food and wine is expensive, the venues and locations make up for the crazy price points. There is just such an incredible choice of beautiful places to visit here.


We love to eat out more than anything else so we are being spoilt with our choices, especially kid-friendly places to which we can bring along Emie-Rose. We particularly love bringing her to Maison Mathis in Arabian Ranches, if only for the warm fresh bread they give you before your meal and to Park House at Kite Beach.

For a very special treat, we both love Japanese restaurant, Zuma. Friday Brunch at Coya was a great experience. I spent most of my time taking videos of the gorgeous venue though. I had a seriously delicious breakfast at The Culinary Boutique where the French toast is exquisite. We have a list of places we wish to visit in the next few weeks. We pretty much plan on eating our way through Dubai.

4. You cannot rush anything in Dubai.

Everything takes ages. Something I am not quite sure I can accept. I am a doer, I want things done now. We have faced many obstacles and roadblocks trying to organise visas, our house, DEWA, furniture and many more taken-for-granted-in-Ireland-tasks since we arrived. Many a day, I have told Denis in frustration, I am moving back to Ireland. There may be a silver lining. Perhaps this slow approach will be good for me. It might teach me to slow down a little and to live life at a slower pace. Positive thoughts, eh?

Read moreTop Tips Before Moving House in DubaiThe Sassy Mama Guide To Moving House In Dubai

5. Denis & I absolutely love to travel.

This love for travel has a lot to do with why we ended up here in the first place. Everyone we have met since we arrived has told us about the amazing travel opportunities that lie ahead for us whilst we are in the Middle East and this excites me greatly. We are already dreaming of trips to Oman, Seychelles, Thailand and Sri Lanka to name a few. I love to talk to people about their lives and share in their experiences. We have met some incredibly interesting people since moving here. We have learned so much about different cultures. Emie-Rose is one lucky little girl to be able to grow up surrounded by such an amazing diversity of places, cultures and people. Special experiences we can all take home to Ireland with us in a few short years.

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