Meet the neighbours

The O’Brien Family from Victory Heights


It’s not every day that Time Out Kids gets to be part of a birth announcement, but here in a townhouse in Victory Heights, Irish couple Helly and Luke O’Brien happily reveal that their family of four will soon be expanding to a gang of five. Daughters Cadhla Rose, aged eight, and Aoibhie, four, are about to become big sisters and they're very happy about it!

A huge congratulations to you all on your lovely news. Exciting times ahead!
Helly: Thank you. We’ve just passed the twelve-week mark and are so excited to share our news with everyone. The new arrival is due in January, which is a lovely time to have a baby in Dubai, although being in the early stages of pregnancy in the hot summer isn’t ideal. I’ve been quite sick with the pregnancy, I was the same with the girls. I debated finding out if it’s a boy or girl but I think we will keep it a surprise now.
Luke: More sleepless nights to come but we are delighted. I travel a bit for work so I’ll have to make sure I’m not too far away in January.
Helly: We had told Cadhla Rose but were going to wait a while to tell Aoibhie as she is still so little, but Luke jumped the gun last weekend when we were at Atlantis.
Aoibhie: I love Atlantis! We saw starfish.

Is this your first time giving birth in the UAE?
Helly: Yes, this little one will be born in City Hospital. It’s the hospital we always go to when we need any medical help. The girls were born in Ireland so this will be a bit different. I’m hoping for a five-star experience!
Luke: We moved here in 2013 when Aoibhie was just 10 months old and Cadhla Rose was five, so this time will definitely be a new experience.
Helly: We have good friends on standby to help us out with the girls when I need to go in to hospital. We are lucky to have that support system. It will be fine, I’ve done it before.

Tell us a little bit about your journey here. You moved from Ireland to Dubai, is it all you had hoped for?
Luke: We moved for work. I came out to set up a company here. We first moved into an apartment in the Greens, which was pretty much all the company could afford at the time. I was really busy. There were only two of us handling distribution across nine countries, which meant that Helly had to do most of the settling in.
Helly: It was lovely in the Greens, I really enjoyed living there.
Luke: But it was small and we definitely needed more space.
Helly: We adopted our little rescue dog, Minnie, when we moved here. It was a very busy apartment with the children and the dog and everything [laughs]. I loved it right from the get-go.
Luke: You did find it tough at first, though. You couldn’t work because we couldn’t afford a nanny and felt a bit hemmed in.
Helly: My parents emigrated from Ireland in the 1980s and moved to Perth. So, I grew up there, not that it’s the same thing but I have moved a bit before. I returned to Ireland when I was in my twenties and then back to Perth, which is where I met Luke.

As well as looking after two little ones, you also write a blog. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Helly: Yes, I started my blog “My Little Loves” when we moved here, as a way of keeping our friends and family back home up to speed on our life in Dubai. I love to write. At first it was just for us but after about a year, I made it public and it’s doing well, keeps me busy. The girls love it because they get to be ambassadors for some really nice products. I also joined a playgroup and ended up helping to run it. We would drop Cadhla Rose at school and then Aoibhie and I would head off to that.
Luke: We luckily met some people coming over on the plane that first trip who are now among our closest friends. So, that was a nice welcome to Dubai. We both lost our buggies on the flight so we bonded over that.

How long have you been living in Victory Heights? Your townhouse is really spacious, is it a good home for a young family?
Helly: We moved here in December. After the Greens we tried the Springs 2 and it was nice but the children are at school in Victory Heights, so this new place works really well for us and the price was right. We did try and get them into Dubai British School right at the beginning when we moved to Dubai. It was right on our doorstep in the Springs but the waiting list was very long. We have a four-bedroom townhouse here, with a maid’s room. We’ve turned the downstairs room into a playroom and I use the maid’s room for spray tans, which I sometimes do for my friends. It’s a perfect home for us. I knew we’d need some extra space so the children wouldn’t go stir-crazy when the temperatures peaked over the summer.
Luke: My office is in Barsha Heights and the commute time is 15 minutes approximately. I’ve figured out the fastest route. It’s an ideal location for the journey to work.
Helly: There’s space, too, when we have visitors. We get a lot of close friends and family visiting us from Ireland, which is lovely.

Cadhla Rose, you have moved around a lot for a small girl. How do you like living here in Victory Heights?
Cadhla Rose: There are great play parks here. There is one right across the street, which I love going to. I can ride my bike there and the climbing frame and monkey bars are brilliant. And my school is so close. I am on the school council and I love that. I even got to meet the Minister for Happiness when she came to my school so that was exciting. We like going swimming here, too, and the pool is really close to our house so we can cycle there.
Helly: I like the freedom it gives the girls. Especially Cadhla Rose now that she is nine. A lot of her friends live here, and Aoibhie’s, too, so they have a lovely little network. And we find that this house gives us so much more space, especially now it’s summer and we are inside more. The girls have space to play. In the cooler months, the garden is a good size and we like to kick a ball around there or just sit and relax. We can open the gate there at the back and let them run up and down the path and grassy area because it’s very safe.
Luke: I love the community gym, I go most evenings. It’s right on our doorstep and it’s free, which is, of course, a big benefit. And I am very involved with the Dubai Celts, the Irish hurling and football club, and we train in Sports City, so it’s the perfect spot for us. It feels like a self-sufficient community. The Canal Residence development is right on our doorstep and has plenty of shops and restaurants so you don’t need to stray too far.
Helly: The parks are great, we meet loads of people there, it’s very social. Our neighbours across the street are great friends of ours, too, so we are lucky. I see us living here until we move back to Ireland, really. When the weather isn’t so hot, the Els Club runs a movie night on the lawns. You can pitch up with your blanket, some sweets for the children and watch a nice movie. There are options there to eat and drink, too. We love that, it’s a big treat.

And what about you, Aoibhie, do you like living here, too?
Aoibhie: Yes, and I love going to Palace beach. Daddy is going to get me a white sparkly fish.
Cadhla Rose: We used to have a goldfish, but we don’t know where he went.
Helly: Sometimes goldfish have to swim back to the sea, so that might have been what happened... The girls play really well together and the playroom is a great place for them to have their own space. The green spaces, the convenience of it, it all adds up just right for us as a family.

Victory heights’ top features

Canal Residences
A mixed development of apartments, shops and restaurants. It’s a lovely place to wander around and the children’s playgrounds are a great way for little ones to let off steam.

ELC Nursery
The Victory Heights community has its own nursery, which caters for children aged from one to six years old. Featuring after-school clubs and summer camps in a bright and friendly environment.

City Centre Me’aisem
The Majid Al Futtaim-owned mall is right on the doorstep of Victory Heights, boasting a large Carrefour, Borders book shop, H&M, Paul restaurant, Starbucks and more. It even has a Magic Planet – perfect for those times when you have to bribe them into shopping submission.

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