23 February 2017

Lindsey Parry - Expat in the UAE

Lindsey Parry - Expat in the UAE

We’ve had the chance to talk to Lindsey Parry, 39, a British expat who has moved to UAE alone. Mrs. Parry who has been living there for more than eight years, now works as a writer. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I was born in Scotland but we’ve moved around a bit. St. Ives, Cambridgeshire is where I spent the most time growing up.


Q: What made you move out of the UK?

A: I’d always wanted to live overseas and when I saw a job opportunity advertised in Dubai I thought I’d go for it. I didn’t really think I’d get it, but I did, and the rest is history!


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: I’m now living in Abu Dhabi. After almost five years in Dubai, I moved with my husband to his home country of Australia. We stayed in Australia for 18 months and then a great job arose in Abu Dhabi for my husband and we were happy to come back to the UAE.


Q: How long have you been living in the United Arab Emirates?

A: So aside from the 18 months we lived in Australia, we’ve been in the UAE since 2006.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: Yes, I am now, although I wasn’t yet married when I first moved to the UAE. My boyfriend at the time followed me out to Dubai and a couple of years later we married in Dubai. Following our move to Abu Dhabi our son was born in the capital, so it’s not been any kind of adjustment at all, this is where our family started!


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Of course I miss my family, that’s definitely the hardest thing about living overseas. I miss home less often, although it’ll be at the strangest times like watching a tv programme where I see an image of the UK where I get those unexpected pangs of homesickness. I cope by remembering why I’m here, and how much better a quality of life I’m able to have here, as well as by encouraging my family to visit me here as much as possible!


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I think UAE culture is very interesting and also very misunderstood at times. People are people at the end of the day, wherever they’re from, regardless of culture and religion we all pretty much have similar goals in life, to live as well as we can and take care of our families as best we can.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in the United Arab Emirates? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: I do mainly socialise with other expats as there are so many of them here! It is definitely easy to meet people, though it can take a while to find people that you really click with. You just have to get out and about really, join clubs you have interests in, go to meet ups etc. and then hang on tight to people you feel a connection with!


Q: How does the cost of living in the United Arab Emirates compare to your home?

A: Some things are much more expensive and some things are much cheaper.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: Around Dhs20.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: It could be as little as Dhs50.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: It varies wildly but many of the five-star hotel restaurants will set you back hundreds of dirhams without wine. One main course dish could easily be around Dhs200.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: No idea about cigarettes as I don’t smoke but I do believe they’re cheap here. A bottle of wine has 30% tax added to it so can cost anything from Dhs80 in the alcohol shop to probably a minimum of Dhs180 for a cheap bottle in a hotel.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in the United Arab Emirates?

A: Be patient with the process, it can be frustrating!


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Again, it can be a bit laborious but mostly your company or that of your partner will take care of that. Usually, companies have PRO’s who are charged with all the running around to drop off paperwork and pick it up etc. You’ll be given appointments to turn up for photos and medicals but that’s usually pretty painless.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in the United Arab Emirates is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: There is a lot of choice in the UAE for healthcare and you’ll find a place you prefer according to where you live and work. The standards do vary from place to place, so it’s really just about finding a doctor/clinic that you feel comfortable with.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the UK or the United Arab Emirates?  What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: It is law here for health insurance to be provided by the employer.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to the United Arab Emirates? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I didn’t use a mover at all. When I was offered my first position in the UAE, I moved from London and my job didn’t come with any moving benefits. I literally sold most of my stuff and got on the plane with only as much as I could carry in my suitcase! It sounds a bit drastic, but it makes sense really as your style tends to change naturally according to your new lifestyle anyway. It’s common for people to find they’re brought lots of things with them that they never ever use!  


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in the United Arab Emirates?

A: I absolutely love living here, life, in general, is really great. Of course, there are challenges and frustrations, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives for me, or I wouldn’t be here anymore!


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: I love visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, it really never gets old. Qasr Al Hosn is also a favourite landmark of mine and many people miss it when visiting which is a shame as it’s the oldest building in the city and the symbolic birthplace of the city. There’s really lots to do here for all tastes.


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: We are very happy here and plan to stay for the foreseeable future, but you never know what is around the corner as an expat so never say never!


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Stay positive, remember how lucky you are, be patient and remain open minded.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about the United Arab Emirates?

A: It can actually be quite difficult to find information out about many subjects in Abu Dhabi which is part of the reason why I started my own blog, ArabianNotes.com. Otherwise, there are some great local Facebook groups, British Mums Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Q&A that can be really helpful in finding out information.