Dubai Expat Interview – Arshiya Fakih Eappen
Tell us a little about yourself:
A Personal Shopper and Stylist, a sea-lover, an ardent swimmer, and someone who loves to spend time with family and friends, would best describe who I am. I have been a part of the fashion industry for over fifteen years. While in India, I ran my own designer wear label ’Araiya’. During this time, I designed collections for my own stores, and supplied to some of the biggest fashion houses in India. I biannually participated in Fashion Week, styled Feature Films, advertisements, reality shows, celebrities and Bollywood. My last two years in Dubai have been fun-filled and exciting, as it gave me the opportunity to invest time doing personal stuff that is close to my heart.
When did you move to Dubai and what brought you here:
I briefly lived in Dubai for two years, when I got married in 2003. After that my husband, Rij and I moved to Mumbai for seven years. I have now been in Dubai for the past two years. Business prospects, a refreshingly clean environment, and an organised lifestyle, is what brought us back to here. The fact that we both have family in Dubai, it is a safe and child-friendly environment, and my love for the sea, has definitely helped in making this multi-cultural place grow rather quickly on me.
Have you been an expat elsewhere and if so, where?
I have been an expat in New York, where I studies and worked in fashion. Other than that I am born and raised in Mumbai.
The best advice you were given to prepare you for life in Dubai:
’Sometimes God takes the best decisions for you. The ones that you would not have the courage to take. Treat these moments as wonderful opportunities and not as a crisis’. I really connected with this feeling, and made the most of my shift. Two years down the line, I seem to be enjoying Dubai, more everyday.
What surprised you most about Dubai?
When I lived here in 2003, there wasn’t much of a fashion scene, networking opportunities, and it was highly difficult to find like-minded people. Today, thanks to websites like Expat Echo Dubai , expats have a much better chance of meeting like-minded people. I love the fact that Dubai is so multi-cultural and that it’s expats are keen to give back to society. It’s heartening and not something commonly seen in big cities.
What area do you live in?
I live on Sheikh Zayed Road. It is a great location as public transport is accessible at any time. The great eating joints, salons, spas, convenient stores, and hustle bustle make it a rather fun place for an urban girl like me.
If money were no object, where would you most like to live in Dubai?
Probably the Palm Jumeirah, as I am a beach lover.
Your favourite Arabic word or phrase you have learned so far:
Being a Muslim, I already knew a few words and phrases. After moving here, I use ’Yallah Habibi’ a bit with my daughter. It translates to ’Lets go my love’ :).
Your least favourite word or phrase you have adopted since moving to Dubai:
Nothing in the Arabic language that I don’t particularly like. It is a pleasant dialect.
What has been your best experience in Dubai to date?
A few months back when I went shopping at Dubai Mall, I lost my diamond earrings. I rushed back to a couple of stores that I had visited, knowing fully well that the chances of finding diamond earrings, five hours later, in one of the largest malls of the world, were none. Each store I visited took time, to thoroughly inspect their entire space and ask all the concerned people. before giving me the bad news. Eventually one store asked me to wait, and brought out my diamond earrings carefully packed. It is then that I realised how safe and wonderfully helpful the people of this city are.
Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
I plan to spend the coming summer back home in Mumbai, India. Other than that, I’d like to go for an African Safari, for my next holiday. I would love to have a vacation in the wild.
Who is the person you most miss when you are in Dubai?
I miss many of my family members and friends while I am here in Dubai. Most of all, I miss my mom, dad and sister, Aaliya.
What is your favourite restaurant in Dubai?
I like many restaurants in Dubai. Some of my favourites are Le Petite Maison, and Zuma at DIFC. They both have a great vibe.
What grocery item do you most miss from your home country?
You pretty much get everything from my home country in Dubai. What I miss is the street vendor’s chaats and pani puri. It is available here, but it doesn’t taste quite the same.
When friends and family visit you in Dubai where will you absolutely take them?
When people visit me here, I like to take them to see the beautiful beaches (which they don’t expect from a place like Dubai), Dubai Mall for shopping, restaurants like Zaroob and Hallab that give you the local flavour, and I like to drive them around to see the dazzling skyline.