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Dubai Expat Interview – Sharene Lee

Melltoo_mom_profilePic_smallThis week’s Into-yous features Singaporean expat Sharene Lee

Tell us a little about yourself:
I am the co-founder of Melltoo, social classifieds market, a mobile app for iOS and Android. I am also an educator (English teacher) and researcher (PhD student researching mobile instant messaging and student engagement). But most importantly, I’m a mother of 5, ages 3 months to 10 years.

When did you move to Dubai and what brought you here:
I first moved to Dubai in 2005. I moved to Saudi Arabia in 2010 and returned to Dubai recently in Jan 2014. A number of things brought me here, including the fact that Dubai is very family-friendly, compared to other big cities in the world where I’ve lived. (Try renting a place to live in L.A. with 4 children!)

Have you been an expat elsewhere and if so, where?
I’m not entirely sure what qualifies one to be called an ’expat’. But, having said that, I’ve lived all over the place. I started in Singapore (born and raised), moved to California at age 17, spent about 6 months in France and 3 months in Algeria after child #1 was born, lived in Dubai for 5 years, lived in Saudi Arabia for nearly 4 years, and now back to Dubai.

The best advice you were given to prepare you for life in Dubai:
Hmmm…it’s expensive. You get caught up in the ’glamour’ and all the cool stuff you never knew existed before…but before you know it, you’re in the red.

What surprised you most about Dubai?
Well, this is something I don’t want to discuss in writing! Ask me in person. :)

What area do you live in?
Ras Al Khaimah

If money were no object, where would you most like to live in Dubai?
Hmm…I’m not so sure I want to live in Dubai…the traffic is too crazy. I like where I am in RAK, it’s quiet, it’s a stone’s throw away from Dubai and my kids have a huge sandpit (aka garden) to play in.

Your favourite Arabic word or phrase you have learned so far:
I’ve been here a while, so my Arabic is quite good now…but when I first arrived, it probably was ”khalas”.

Your least favourite word or phrase you have adopted since moving to Dubai:
This is a tough one…I don’t have an answer.

What has been your best experience in Dubai to date?
There are many…I’ve had 2 children here, I’ve launched 2 businesses here, I’ve won stuff here…

Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
We were in Singapore/Malaysia/France this past summer…no plans for the upcoming summer yet.

Who is the person you most miss when you are in Dubai?
My mom.

What is your favourite restaurant in Dubai?
An Indian place in Bur Dubai. Don’t know what it’s called…just know how to get there.

What grocery item do you most miss from your home country?
I’m from Singapore, so the list is endless!

When friends and family visit you in Dubai where will you absolutely take them?
Again, I’m from Singapore, so when people from Singapore come, we take them to the malls in Dubai.

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The team at Expat Echo Dubai would like to feature you in our Into-yous section

Please complete our 5 minute interview and submit your answers along with a profile picture (in JPEG format).



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