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Dubai Expat Interview – Jenna Mercer

jennaThis week’s Into-yous features British expat Jenna Mercer

Tell us a little about yourself:

I love to travel, fitness is my passion and my life and I love the outdoors. So Dubai is a perfect location for me. I can work outside most months of the year. I also love to socialise and Dubai is a fantastic hub for that.

When did you move to Dubai and what brought you here:
I moved to Dubai in June 2012 to work as a personal trainer for Jumeirah Beach Hotel. I had the most spectacular views from my ”office” and my day to day job was everything that I love. Fitness, fun and playing around to create new and imaginative exercises. However, I realised that as much as I love going to the gym, I just didn’t want to work in one all day every day. I preferred training clients outside where I could challenge them in ways they didn’t expect. Plus let’s face it, for 8 months of the year the weather outside is fantastic for outdoor training. So I established a personal training company (Born 2 Perform) with my business partner, Katherine. We provide 1 on 1, partnered and small group personal training, Pilates and boot camp classes, as well as more specialised training programming for those with sport specific requirements and those with injuries. Check us out at

Have you been an expat elsewhere and if so, where?
No, but it was fortunate enough to travel the world a lot as I grew up and the thought of living overseas has always appealed to me.

The best advice you were given to prepare you for life in Dubai:
I moved here in June, the first piece of advice I was given is stay inside until September. It made me laugh. But the best advice I was given before I moved here was to enjoy Dubai for what it is, don’t try to make it into something it’s not. That has always stuck with me.

What surprised you most about Dubai?
How tolerant it is. You read so many stories about Dubai and it can get some very negative press attention back home. But in reality it isn’t anything like what I had read.

What area do you live in?
I live in Tecom, which is super handy as it doesn’t really seem to get backed up with traffic and I love how central it is to pretty much everywhere

If money were no object, where would you most like to live in Dubai?
If money were no object, I’d probably live in the meadows. I love the community feel that it has, you get lovely sunsets over the marina and it’s close enough to Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Khail but without any noise. I always find that quite remarkable.

Your favourite Arabic word or phrase you have learned so far:
Same same but different – always amuses me and has a lot of practical applications when I think about it

Your least favourite word or phrase you have adopted since moving to Dubai:
No problem! I never understand if the person who is saying it has fully understood what you are asking of them and when you try to clarify you get the response of ”no problem” again.

What has been your best experience in Dubai to date?
That’s genuinely a really hard question. If I want to keep it simple though I would say New Year’s Eve 2012, Sandance, some amazing music and a push up competition in the VIP section instigated by my business partner. It was hilarious and a night that I will never forget.

Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
New Zealand! There are a number of reasons for going but one of the top reasons is to see my cousin and her 2 beautiful children.

Who is the person you most miss when you are in Dubai?
That special person normally travels with me when I leave, so again it’s a difficult question. Just friends collectively I guess

What is your favourite restaurant in Dubai?
I would have to say one of the restaurants I most enjoy going to is Tribes, it has such a wonderful atmosphere and reminds me of my 30th birthday in Kenya when they randomly break into song and dance. But I also really like Saladicious; clean, healthy but full of flavour.

What grocery item do you most miss from your home country?
Fresh, local Salmon and a good fishmonger in general. Truly fresh fruit and veg is high on my list too. I devoured so many strawberries and cherries when I was last home.

When friends and family visit you in Dubai where will you absolutely take them?
To the observatory in the Marriott. It Is my favourite place to sit back, relax and watch the sun set.

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