Expat Interview: Arabian Notes
Posted by Dannielle Noonan
Lindsey Parry is the UK expat behind Arabian Notes, a blog detailing life in Abu Dhabi and beyond. She's a writer, media gal, blogger, wife, international woman of mystery and most recently, a mum. Here, she tells Medibroker how she moved to the Middle East and shares some interesting insights into life there.
Where are you from originally and where have you lived?
I am originally from the UK, I was born in Scotland but we moved around a bit so I spent most of my school years in England, near Cambridge. I lived there until I went to University in Brighton and following that I moved to London for work. My first overseas experience was when I moved from London to Dubai for a job in 2006. In 2011 I moved with my husband to Brisbane, Australia but we found we missed life in the UAE so much we moved back to Abu Dhabi in January 2013!
What was your reason for moving to the Middle East?
I had just always wanted to live overseas! I was itching for a change and was browsing the trade press at work in London one day and I saw the perfect job advertised. I applied, got it and pretty soon afterwards found myself on a plane to Dubai! I was put up in accommodation provided by my employer for the first month but had to find my own accommodation thereafter. It was a bit of a scary prospect as I had no idea where to start and at the time needed to find shared accommodation since I didn’t have the money to put up a year’s rent in advance on my own place, as is the norm here.
After a few pretty terrible viewings of places that were nothing at all like their descriptions that had been arranged through one of the online portals here, I saw an advert on the notice board in my local supermarket that a group of people of similar age to me were looking for housemates in a villa nearby. I decided to make the call, met with them, liked what I found and moved in with them!
While planning your move, what was the biggest obstacle?
My visa was arranged by my employer when I first moved to the UAE, and they also provided me with health insurance as part of the package so I didn't have any of those worries, though experience tells me that you are wise to thoroughly look into what any insurance you are provided with actually covers before you need it to avoid any nasty surprises later on. The biggest thing was what to do with all my stuff! I gave a lot away to charity shops, packed what I could into one big suitcase (since I had no shipping allowance from my employer at the time) and packed up the rest to leave in storage at my parents’ house!
What have you learned from your experience of living abroad?
I think living abroad opens your mind in ways you just can’t imagine until you’ve done it. You learn so much about a new culture and gain a new respect and understanding of other cultures. It can also be a very frustrating experience since things do not always run as smoothly as they might back home, so it’s also a great lesson in patience!
What has been the biggest culture shock for you?
There isn’t really too much of a culture shock when moving to the UAE since everyone speaks English here, but it is wise to be mindful that we are living in a Muslim culture and to behave and dress respectfully. I think perhaps some people find it all too easy to forget this sometimes which is where problems can start.
What has been your most memorable experience since moving?
I’m not sure there’s been just one I can recount, there’s been so many and I just love it here! We have such an amazing lifestyle and such good weather - except perhaps when it’s 50 degrees Celsius in the summer! Moving overseas just opens you up to many new sights, sounds, experiences and opportunities. Aside from anything else, the UAE is so well placed to travel anywhere so it’s very easy to see the world from here.
Did you give birth in Abu Dhabi? How do you find the healthcare there?
Yes, I did give birth here in Abu Dhabi. The healthcare is very good on the whole and I had a good experience in the Corniche Hospital. It’s midwife led, so is a system very similar to the UK which is what I wanted. The biggest difference is that there’s just so many doctors with different nationalities and different ideas so it’s wise to be well informed so you have the knowledge to ask the right questions and to stand up for what you want and don’t want.
What advice would you give to anyone else thinking of moving to the Middle East?
Just do it! Do your research on the culture so you are aware how to behave respectfully, but don’t be afraid! It’s very safe and friendly here. What’s the worst that can happen? If you don’t like it or it doesn’t work out, you can always just go home with nothing lost, but at least you won’t always wonder ‘what if’!
Tell us about your blog, Arabian Notes!
Arabian Notes is a lifestyle blog covering everything about my life in the UAE from everyday life, culture, reviews, things to do, travel from the UAE and pretty much anything else about life here that inspires me to write!
I have also written a number of posts for people considering a move here on subjects like what I’ve learned about buying and selling a car here, tips on moving to know before you move, common questions people ask me about living here, the cost of living and so on. And if anyone has any other questions I haven’t covered I’m always happy to hear from my readers - if it’s something I haven’t written about before then often they'll inspire my new posts!
It's always wise to ensure that your employee health insurance caters to your specific needs. Changing laws in the Middle East mean expat health cover is more important than ever. Contact Medibroker today to discuss your requirements. Our broker service is 100% free and completely impartial.