South Africans in Dubai
Some of the 50,000 South African expats in Dubai tell Time Out about life in the UAE 11 Comments
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Alan Jahnig, 33
‘I’d always heard about Dubai as this place of wealth and luxury where everyone whips about in sports cars – in fact, it was the charm of the sports car that got me on the plane. I’ve been in Dubai for 11 years now. When the Royal Mirage was starting up I was offered a job to help with the opening.
‘It’s tremendously different from South Africa here. It doesn’t have the greenery and the nature that SA offers. In SA, when you go from one city to another you’re in a whole different environment. Unfortunately, because the UAE is smaller, it’s not as easy to experience such diversity. Having said that, you have the desert less than an hour’s drive away – it’s practically on your doorstep!
‘Personally, I feel like Dubai offers an easy life. For me it’s pretty stress-free and the set-up is easier than it would be in other countries. The entertainment is great: you can step out for dinner, catch a movie, watch sports – it’s all very laidback. Although I do wish there were more sporting facilities. Of course, sometimes I wish I felt more at home. I do like going for dinner at The Meat Company, a SA chain. There’s also a pretty strong SA theme at the Grand Grill. And it’s always good to have an African-style barbecue.
‘I think I’ll stay here for at least another five years. I recently started a business and I’d like to stick around and see how things progress. I do still feel homesick at times, especially when watching sporting events in SA. But I visit home about twice a year; it’s important to stay connected with your roots.’
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