This month, we caught up with Rana Ozal Yardimci, a Turkish expat living in Park Island, a popular complex of four towers in Dubai Marina. Rana moved there in October 2010 with her husband, Emre, and two-and-a-half year old daughter, Irem. Although they miss some home comforts from their native Istanbul, they are very happy with their choice, they say. Irem is already picking up English at a lightning speed, and the whole family is making new friends in Dubai. ‘Our quality of life is perfect now,’ says Rana.
Why did you choose the Marina?
We came straight here from Istanbul and my husband arrived in August 2010. We have a friend living in the Marina area so he recommended it to us. It is lovely, really, as we come from a very metropolitan area and we like the busy lifestyle here. When my daughter, Irem and I arrived, we looked at other areas to live, like the Greens and even Downtown, but we were looking for a place where we could walk around and also have the beach nearby. So, the Marina was perfect for us.
Do you find the Marina easy to get around?
We arrived in winter, so we could walk around here easily and JBR Walk is great. Here we don’t have the kind of big traffic problems like we had in Istanbul, so my husband’s commute to work has decreased from at least an hour each way to just 15 or 20 minutes. This is such a positive for us as it means less stress.
During the winter season, there’s so much to do here in the Marina for children. In front of Paul Café on JBR, there is a sandy area for children to play and meet, the beach is just five minutes walk and in Park Island where we live, there is a green area; it’s small but handy for meeting friends.
How do you feel about raising your child in Dubai?
For children especially, the opportunities here are better than at home. There is so much to do; even the bookshops, they have an amazing corner for children. Irem will be two-and-a-half at the end of this year so she is very keen to learn and she understands English very well. In Istanbul, we only spoke Turkish so this is a good education for her. In January, she started an art class at Kidville in JBR. I stayed with her as she was young and did not know enough English. In September, she started at Kidville University – a three-hour session, three times a week. She stays alone now and loves it. Generally, on weekends we go to the play area at Ibn Battuta. Marina Mall is small but there are great activities on the promenade.
Have you found it easy to settle in?
There are thousands of Turkish people in Dubai but I have also met many other friends of all nationalities, mostly through my daughter! We feel very much at home here. We have a Turkish community and the women meet every Tuesday at the Costa Coffee on the Marina Promenade. Once a month we make it a ladies’ night! There is a website and a Facebook page for all kinds of useful information, such as a new Turkish restaurant or grocery store. JBR has a Turkish restaurant and there is one in Ibn Battuta, so there’s plenty of places to meet friends. I can find a doctor or about where to get the carpets cleaned from the people I meet.
You mentioned the malls. Is the Marina good for shopping or do you have to travel further afield?
We have a Spinneys – also very nice for walking around, and kids can play in the water fountains. We have a Carrefour Express opposite the Westin and there’s also a Waitrose in the Marina Mall. There are smaller supermarkets all around the Marina. Without having to use your car, you can do your shopping very easily.
Are there any downsides to living in the Marina?
The parking can be an issue for some, but we have only one car so it’s not a problem for us. One small negative is not having all of the Turkish food that we love but that is a very small thing indeed. We love it here.
Dubai Marina Mall 04 436 1020
JBR Walk 04 390 0091
Al Maya Supermarket 04 432 7191
Spinneys 04 367 4810
Waitrose 04 434 2626
Jebel Ali Village Nursery (JBR) 04 424 3791
Fun & Play Nursery 04 437 6433
Raffles Dubai Marina Nursery 04 427 1473
Favourite Things 04 434 1984
Kidville 04 440 1220
Read N Enjoy 04 448 7046
Super Dooper 04 454 3891
Dubai Marina Yacht Club 04 362 7900
The Address Dubai Marina 04 436 7777
Wagamama 04 399 5900