Irish in Dubai

We speak to three Irish Dubai residents to find out what they make of the place – and their tips on the best Irish pubs

Cormac Lynch
Cormac Lynch
Patsi Collins
Patsi Collins
Alan Condron
Alan Condron
Interview, Expat focus, Area Guides
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Cormac Lynch, 26

I’ve been in Dubai about eight months now, can you believe it? The time’s really flown. I came out here because I thought of it as the land of opportunity. I’m an interior architect, and there was the promise of creating something completely new here – and so much money. It seemed really exciting, and I knew a lot of people in architecture and design who came over here for those reasons.

I’m from Dublin and, although Dublin’s also a city, when I first came out here, I still found it daunting. But I really like it now – the sun, the beach and all the people you meet. I like that there are so many international people here that you wouldn’t necessarily meet back home in Ireland.

I do miss the rain, I have to say, and the greenness of everything, but other than that, I don’t miss much. I never go anywhere that’s strictly Irish, like the Irish Village. Like I said, I’m here to meet new people, though I have met some Irish people at Gaelic matches, which take place in Safa Park.

If I really crave home, I go to Harvey Nichols, which is kind of a home away from home. I really love The One furniture shop in Jumeirah as well. We don’t have it in Ireland. It has some really great contemporary designs, mixed with something really eclectic. I like the food there too. I also like Bistro Madeleine, because it’s well priced. And I love Zuma. It’s one of my favourite places. I love the decor, and the way it’s always crowded (we Irish love crowds). It’s also sort of swish, if that’s a word, but it’s not overly pretentious.

When I’m not socialising, I like going out to see new buildings being built all the time. You can get so many ideas that way; Dubai is a real epicentre of architecture. My favourite building has to be Emirates Towers. I think it’s just fantastic.

I like pretty much everything about Dubai. It’s very different from Ireland. I don’t know how long I’ll stay here, but I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent here so far.


Patsi Collins, 45

I’ve been in Dubai for 12 years. Before, I was living in south London. My partner and I were offered positions in the Middle East within two days of each other. I believe it was fate – Dubai found me and I’m glad it did. I love every aspect of this city. I think that if you can’t live in Dubai you can’t live anywhere. My favourite part of the place is the weather; everyday is sunny and even the 50C summer days are enjoyable. Really!

Dubai is great for making people of all cultural backgrounds feel at home, so there are a few Irish restaurants and pubs that I go to, especially Irish Village and Dubliner’s in Le Méridien. My husband and I also love going to Karachi Darbar in Deira. This restaurant is what we would miss most about Dubai if we ever left – seriously!

Not that we plan to leave anytime soon. I have a beauty salon here, good friends, and I visit my family in Cork once a year, so I’m happy here.

I think everyone’s facing issues with the credit crunch at the moment, whether directly or indirectly. I’m lucky because no matter what happens, women’s vanity will never fade, so I will always have business. My family back home has a transport company and they have suffered, but I’m sure they’ll get through it.

St Patrick’s Day is a holiday to share with family, so out here I spend it with my husband and friends. We go to the Irish Village and Dubliner’s and sometimes have a house party with an Irish theme. At home it’s a public holiday and it’s all about having fun. I will feel a little homesick, but when you choose to live abroad you learn to deal with missing everyone, and I think listening to Bob Geldof at the Irish Village should get rid of that feeling!


Alan Condron, 28

Originally I’m from Donegal. I already had friends living over in Dubai, so I had come over a few times to visit. When the job offer came up I saw the opportunity and jumped at it. I’ve been in Dubai for four years now. I’ve got my own business here, Concur Consultants, so I’ll be staying for the foreseeable future. At the moment, it’s really depressing back in Ireland. There are very few jobs – it’s been hit big time by the recession.

I think generally it’s an exciting place to live here, even with the slowdown. But I still think the cost of living is on the high side. I’d hope it doesn’t go up further, but it might.

I have quite a few Irish friends and we go to places like The Irish Village, but just every now and again, like everybody else. There aren’t any Irish restaurants here as we aren’t really renowned for our cuisine – more the Guinness! Fibber Magee’s is my favourite Irish pub here. It’s the most authentic one.

In Ireland on St Patrick’s Day you’ve got the parades, which are a big thing. Here we go to the annual St Paddy’s Day Ball, a black tie event organised by the Irish Society. Do I get homesick on St Patrick’s Day? No, not at all!


Country Profile

Ireland’s history and culture have been shaped by its Celtic heritage, Christianity, and by successive colonisation. The Cromwellian conquest at the end of the 17th century, when approximately 600,000 people died, was a particular low point, as was the Great Famine of the 1840s leading to the deaths of one million people and the emigration of many more.

Colonial rule of Ireland by Britain ended in the ’20s and was followed by a bloody civil war. Even this did not end the island’s suffering. On the granting of home rule, the British-run state of Northern Ireland was formed for the loyally British Protestant population in the area. Many Catholics, with no allegiance to the crown, were also left in the north. Their grievances reached boiling point in the late ’60s, when a period of unrest eventually turned into a terrorist war known, euphemistically, as The Troubles. This only ended in 1998, with the Good Friday Agreement, which saw a power-sharing government formed in the north.

A troubled history has not stopped Ireland’s rich, proud culture projecting around the world. Although all Irish speak English, their native language is still alive in pockets of the country and is part of the country’s national curriculum. This vibrant culture has led to many successful exports. Some are enduring: Guinness, literature (including the likes of Yeats, Swift, Heaney and Shaw) and some less so: Riverdance being an obvious example.

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