Meet the neighbours: Susannah

Originally from the USA, now living in Dubai Marina, Susannah has lived in Dubai since June 2012 with her husband Russell and their son James, four


Originally from the USA, now living in Dubai Marina, Susannah has lived in Dubai since June 2012 with her husband Russell and their son James, four.

How long have you been in Dubai?
We have been living in Dubai for about 20 months.

What’s the best thing about bringing up your children in Dubai?
We love that our son is making friends, as are we, from all over the world. He is learning about different languages, foods and cultures. Having those cultural experiences will give him a greater depth of understanding about the world he is living in.

How long have you lived in Dubai Marina?
We have been in our current apartment for about eight months.

Why did you choose this neighbourhood?
We are city people. We moved from an urban environment in America, and we wanted to maintain that lifestyle. I love being able to run to the corner store, going out to dinner, walking to the beach, or park and not needing the car. The marina is perfect for that. Get your kids a scooter – they’ll be worn out after a few hours on the marina walk!

Where do your children go to school and why did you send them there?
James has been going to Mosaic Nursery in JLT. I toured a number of pre-schools but the moment I entered Mosaic, I knew it was right. I felt happy and welcomed, so I knew James would feel the same way, and he has! They use an American curriculum and teaching method, which is important to me since we might move back to America at some point.

Have you found it easy to meet other mums here?
Yes, for me it’s been easy! I’m a friendly American – isn’t that the stereotype?! James was on the metro, and I saw another mom and son, who looked about the same age as James and were speaking English. I began chatting with her and now we talk daily, she has become my Dubai best-friend. Most people who move to Dubai are new and need friends or remember what it was like to be new here. So, my advice is just be friendly and start up a conversation, whether it is at a park, an indoor play place, Spinneys or Starbucks.

What family friendly facilities are nearby?
Parks, parks, parks! We live in a city apartment, so we have no yard space. I see the streets, the parks, the walkways, and the beaches as the community playground for all of us to share.
There are so many wonderful family friendly facilities here. The new JBR Beach is amazing as well as the new park in JLT. Both are very easy to get to from the Marina.

Are you planning to stay put in the Marina area?
Yes, it’s very convenient to our jobs and James’ school and it provides the urban atmosphere we want as a family. I maintain a singing studio and substitute teach music classes at the American School of Dubai among other things. The Dubai Marina is centrally located for all of our work, and it has easy access to Sheikh Zayed Road. It is also convenient to the metro so the visitors we have from the States can move around town easily on their own.

What do you do in your free time away from the kids?
Well, with everything going on we don’t get much free time, but when we do, we love to go out for a nice meal together and talk without having to rush somewhere or without being interrupted by phones or James.

Please list your favourite:

Mother-child activity in Dubai:
James and I often go to the movies together on Thursday afternoons. It’s a special time for us to just be with each other after a long school and work week. James’ new favourite place is JLT Park because it has a zip line for kids. Parents get a workout as well helping the kids fly on it!

Family hangouts in Dubai:
We love going to the Farmer’s Market in Safa Park on Friday mornings. The produce is beautiful and fresh. James gets an ice cream and plays on the play equipment nearby. I grab whatever is in season for that evening meal, and James and I cook it together.

Cooking, walking, traveling and going to the bookstore as a family. I love all the new children’s books I am getting to experience from around the world with James. It is great seeing this expat experience through his eyes.

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