The Lure of the UAE - From Australian Days to Arabian Nights

From VVVIP status (yes, it’s a thing) to Starbucks delivery to your office, 50 degree heat to the famous Friday Brunch, there are a few things only people who live in the UAE will understand. With it’s inviting mix of cultural diversity, expansive beaches, swanky bars and tax free income, the UAE continues to hold its attraction for lawyers looking for interesting and varied workload combined with a truly unique life experience.

We have a frank conversation with Jessica, a banking and finance lawyer, about her recent move from Gilbert + Tobin in Melbourne to Allen & Overy in Abu Dhabi.

Q. What interested you about the region before your move?

A.  While I have family connections with the Middle East, the appeal of a six hour flight to Europe wasn’t lost on me!  The Middle East is an ideal location to do interesting and high-profile work, travel to your heart’s content, and earn more than enough to fund your travel habit.

Q. What was it like relocating to a new country, with a  completely different culture?

A.  From a work perspective, moving to a civil law jurisdiction means there are new laws, processes etc to get up to speed on.  From a cultural perspective, there is the religious side of things to get used to (particularly Ramadan and the like), but it’s a really easy place to be be comfortable and feel at home very quickly. 

Q. What is it like as a woman in the UAE? Have you experienced any difficulties on a personal or professional level?

A.  There are little things I’ve noticed (for example, not all clients will shake my hand as a female), but for the most part, I’ve found it surprisingly similar to home.  People’s experiences with the dress code will differ, but I wear the same clothes I wore at home (minus my winter coat!). 

Q. Was it easy to get settled and find property, etc?

A.  I’m lucky that my firm assisted me with this.  All I had to do was show up for apartment inspections.  People are always share their tips on how to navitgate the process and share their views on where you should live!

Q. Is there a good social life and community?

A.  Definitely.  As with other expat destinations, there is a ready-made community to tap into. 

Q. What do you for down-time?

A.  Again, it’s much the same as home, with the addition of a lot more food!  I swim, do Pilates and yoga, cycle, go out for meals with friends – all sorts of things!  There are always new restaurants and cafés popping up and there are lots of events going on, especially over winter.   

Q. Is it easy to travel around the region? What have been your favourite places so far?

A.  It’s so easy!  There seem to be public holidays all the time, and with so many countries so close by, the lure of a long weekend rock climbing or sailing in Oman, or snorkelling in Jordan, is hard to resist!

Q. Is there much difference between Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

A.  I live in Abu Dhabi but visit Dubai on weekends from time to time.  While both cities have the appeal of gorgeous beaches and 25 degree winter days, Dubai does have a lot more cocktail bars and the like.  During the week, I love the relaxed feel of Abu Dhabi.  It’s an easy commute from home to the office and there is still plenty to do.

Q. The weather is a much talked about factor for a the summer months in the Middle East…how hot is it?

A.  It’s really hot!  But it’s nothing that an air-conditioned apartment and a swim after work can’t fix.  And the mountains in Oman are 20 degrees cooler than Abu Dhabi and Dubai – any excuse for a holiday!

Thursday Sep 21, 2017