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THE EXPAT’S VIEW: MARIANNE REES-HAWKINS


‘WE HAVE BEEN ON FAMILY CAMPING TRIPS WHERE WE HAVE MET SOME WONDERFUL, GRACIOUS EMIRATI PEOPLE.’


MARIANNE REES-HAWKINS WORKS AS UK TRADE & INVESTMENT MARKETING MANAGER FOR THE MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA AT THE BRITISH EMBASSY IN DUBAI. HERE SHE TALKS ABOUT LIFE AS AN EX-PAT IN THE UAE


How long have you been in Dubai? Since October 2014 when I moved here with my husband and two children, aged 5 and 8. Prior to that I had lived in Panama, the US, and Luxembourg so I was already used to living overseas.


What do you like about the ex-pat life? I love learning about the region and also being part of the local economy and contributing something back. It is not just about living the ex-pat life but being part of the local community and learning about different experiences and cultures.


What is Dubai like for the children? Tey are at an international English-speaking school although they are also learning Arabic. Tey are mixing with children from many other different countries and having a great time.


What is it like to live and work in Dubai? Tere are two sides to Dubai - everyone thinks of the ex-pat scene and the ‘brunching culture’, along with the ‘bling’, the fast cars etc. Tat does exist, but Dubai is also close to some amazing areas. We have been on family camping trips where we have met some wonderful, gracious Emirati people. On one occasion we were stuck in the sand and a local Emirati came along with his 4x4 and pulled us out. We have also travelled to Oman and found Muscat very culturally interesting.


Where do you live? We live in a three-bedroom villa in a gated community. Tere is good security and a central park and pool where people have barbeques. It is very friendly and the children can play safely. All the people that live here are ex-pats. Our neighbours are from all over – Australia, Lebanon, Sweden and the UK. Tere are 240,000 people from the UK living in the UAE.


24 EXPERTVIEW SPRING 2015 expertviewmagazine.com


How do you get around? Tere is great infrastructure here. Te roads are amazing, with 16 lane highways! People do drive fast, but I drive to the Embassy everyday which is just a half hour drive. One problem is drainage. Te day after rain there is complete chaos on the roads.


Is there any particular etiquette to doing business in Dubai? You have to be aware of who you are meeting and how to address them. But Dubai is an international business community with few differences, unlike Saudi Arabia which if I were to travel to I would not be allowed to drive and would have to wear the full veil. Here it is normal to bring a gift if meeting a local Emirati and accept their hospitality.


What does your job involve? At the moment I am involved in running the 2015 GREAT Business Award which was launched by the Embassy to encourage businesses in the Gulf to set up in Great Britain. I am building a network of people around the Gulf and meeting some fascinating people.


EV


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