Family life in The Villa Dubai

British children's author Rachel Hamilton shares her views on family life in Dubai

Community, Education

How long have you been living in Dubai?
Almost seven years. We arrived in 2003, planning to stay for two years, and we forgot to leave.

What’s the very best thing about bringing up your children in Dubai?
I love the way Dubai encourages my children to think big and believe anything is possible. They watched my dreams come true here, when a competition led to a publishing deal for my children’s books, The Case of the Exploding Loo and The Case of the Exploding Brains. They’ve also seen my husband get his dream job. I’m thrilled my children are growing up viewing life as a very big adventure full of limitless opportunities.

How long have you lived in The Villa?
For two and half years.

Why did you choose this neighbourhood?
It was near the kids’ school, we had some friends here and rents were reasonable at the time. Also, two and half years ago, we didn’t realise the comedy moments we’d have ordering things to be delivered here. ‘No! Not our villa. The Villa. With capital letters.’ Groan. ‘No, it’s a community not a house. Okay, okay, forget it. Just come to Falcon City and we’ll meet you.’

Did you have your kids in Dubai? If yes, where and how was the experience?
No. We arrived when my daughter was five and my son was four. I had my daughter in Budapest, in a Hungarian hospital where no one spoke any English, where the anaesthetist went missing the evening we arrived and where the doctor sat on my friend’s stomach to squeeze her baby out and explained that it was common for babies to be born with broken collar bones. Er, not if you don’t sit on them, it’s not common. When people complain about the facilities here in Dubai, I smile.

Where do your children go to school and why?
We put both kids into Repton when we arrived. At that time, school places were impossible to find and Repton was one of the only schools taking new pupils because it had just opened. However, the lack of choice worked out in our favour because the school has been brilliant, especially for my son. He’s that kid from Sesame Street who’s always ‘doing his own thing’, and Repton have helped him learn how to work with others while remaining proud of the quirks that make him unique. A big thumbs up from me.

Have you found it easy to meet other mums here?
I never really tried. I’m a rubbish joiner. However, I have met some wonderful people through the kids’ school, the stand-up comedy circuit and the book community and a lot of them are mums. So I guess the roundabout answer to that question is yes!

Are you planning to stay?
It’s hard to tell at the moment, because my books are published in the UK. I have to spend a lot of time there and I’m under pressure to move back. However, at the moment I’m managing to live a two-country life and hopefully I’ll be able to continue to do so. I don’t want to leave the UAE. I love it here!

What do you do in your free time away from the kids?
What free time?!

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