Brazilian expats living in Dubai

<em>Time Out</em> talks to the UAE's Brazilian expats about their experiences of living and working in Dubai. Here's what they think about living here

Interview, Expat focus, Area Guides
Renato Gerundio de Azevedo, 43

‘I have four children – one boy and three girls, from five to 18 years old. They speak English, Spanish and Portuguese, and two of them can speak basic Arabic. My parents both had large families. It’s not a special Brazilian thing – it’s just us! I moved to Dubai last December when I was designated by the Bank of Brazil to open their branch in the UAE. I’ve lived in other cultures before coming here, in Bolivia and Panama. Originally, I come from Brasilia, Brazil’s capital.

There’s no comparison between Dubai and Brazil. Dubai is an amazing country and a great place to work and educate the children. We live in Umm Suqeim, near the beach. In Brasilia there is no beach, you have to go on a plane for an hour and a half to get to one. I really love the security of Dubai, and the fact that it never rains. Also, the local people here are very friendly to me as well as the Brazilian community.

The Brazilian population here is very strong – we help each other not miss our home country too much. Of course, I miss my family, colleagues, friends and the music in Brazil, but I’m still enjoying Dubai very much. I believe happiness is not abroad, it is within you. If you have the right attitude you can be happy wherever you live – it all depends on how you manage your life.’

Evelin Costa Gibbons, 33

‘Two and a half years ago, my husband was invited to build a water park in Dubai. At the time, we had just left Mexico after five years, to work on a theme park back in Brazil. But we abandoned that to move to Dubai – if you’re in the entertainment business, this is the place to be. Everywhere else in the world, such as Spain and France, they’re closing parks – but here they’re still building them.

Of course, I miss the heat and happiness in Brazil. Everybody smiles and cheers for everything. Here, people don’t smile; they don’t clap for the music. But the security here is amazing. In Brazil and Mexico people suffer kidnaps. We weren’t kidnapped ourselves, but I went to workshops every three months for advice on what to do if it ever happened. Here, you can pretty much keep your door open. Even before we bought a television here, we bought diamond rings. At home, they’d chop off your finger to get to them, so we couldn’t wait to be able to wear them.

As far as I know there are only two Brazilian restaurants in the UAE – Pachanga in the Hilton Jumeirah, and one in the Intercontinental in Abu Dhabi, Chamas, which is fabulous and just like home. The UK people at Waitrose are introducing lots of Brazilian products too.

Our favourite item of clothing at home is the bikini. Luckily we don’t miss them here – Priais has a store in BurJuman and Mall of the Emirates. We also have great jeans, but you can’t get them here. People think Brazilian girls have amazing bodies – but no, it’s just the jeans we’re wearing. You can get them in Lebanon, but not here.’

Maura De Souza, 42

‘I’ve lived in Dubai for nine years, in Garhoud, then Jumeirah, then Mirdif. I like Garhoud best. I think it is still has a close neighbourhood where people know each other – it reminds me of home; I’m from Sao Paulo. I lived in Muscat for six years before here. I came over for a good job opportunity. Just before it was time for me to leave, I met my husband from the UK (now he’s my ex-husband). My first passion is dance. I’m a professional Ballerina. I brought Salsa and Capoeira to Dubai. I organised one of the biggest carnival events at Dubai Marine Resort in 2001. Everyone was dressed up and dancing. At the same time I started my own company, organising events around the Middle East and India. When President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva came to the region for the first time, I organised an event at Jumeirah Beach Hotel for him.

In terms of Brazilian shopping here, there isn’t much. There’s one shop in Al Ghazal Mall, Number One, that stocks our sports clothes. I buy them for my two boys, who are 10 and 13. They go to Dubai English Speaking School and also speak Portuguese. A few years ago I would have said I’ll be here forever. But this year I’ve started to think maybe I’ll go somewhere else. The real charm of Dubai is disappearing. I think the place has become greedy – they’ve stopped seeing us as people, now we’re just numbers with bank accounts. New people come to enjoy an illusion that didn’t exist when we arrived. We came for a safe, quiet place – we didn’t want to live here because of the Burj Dubai or any other flashy building.’


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Classes are available at the World Black Belt Centre in Jumeirah, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, 7.30pm-9.30pm. Call Carlos on 050 337 7381.

, InterContinental Abu Dhabi (02 666 6888)

Pachanga, Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (04 399 111)

, BurJuman (04 351 1338) Mall of the Emirates (04 341 1167)

, now open in The Dubai Mall,
Email to find out more about monthly Brazilian parties

Country profile

As evidenced by Brazil’s inclusions in the recent ‘Bretton Woods II’ G20 meeting, Brazil is a nation of rising international stature. Ranked number five in the world in geographical and population terms, it is also the fourth most populous democracy in the world. The predominantly Roman Catholic country has come a long way since its colonisation by Portugal between 1500 and 1822 (the national language is still Portuguese) and it has been a republic since 1889

Economic reforms have transformed Brazil into the world’s 10th largest economy, though this has come at a price: the nation’s astonishing biodiversity – particularly the rainforests – have come under threat in previous decades, though recent years have seen more being done to protect these vast swathes of land.

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