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Dubai Expat Interview – Stephanie Duriez

steph2This week’s Into-yous features French expat Stephanie Duriez

Tell us a little about yourself:
Mother of 3 children, I am the founder and managing director of Secrets Fine Food. Even though I go back to France very often and I love my country, I enjoy my life as an expat. Being in contact with people with totally different backgrounds and histories fascinates me. Since childhood, I wanted to live abroad and I have been blessed to be able to realize this dream. Dubai is an extraordinary city where everything is possible. There are very few cities in the world offering so many opportunities and I am proud to be part of this development with my company Secrets Fine Food.

When did you move to Dubai and what brought you here:
We moved here in December 2005. My husband was appointed here.
At that time, the city was very different, Mall of Emirates was the brand new mall and Palm Jumeirah was under construction.

Have you been an expat elsewhere and if so, where?
I used to be expat in Singapore, I loved it. It is an amazing city as well. I discovered the Chinese culture and the Asian food and fell in love with both. 2 of my children were born in Singapore, so I feel we all have some Singaporean cells in our blood.

The best advice you were given to prepare you for life in Dubai:
Be open. Dubai is made of a lot of contrast and differences. Every day can be a cultural shock for narrow minded people. Being open is fundamental to absorb the richness of those disparities and grab the multiple possibilities around us.

What surprised you most about Dubai?
I am always surprised by the never-ending and super creative dynamism of Dubai. It is a non-stop fast growing city. It is one of those very rare places able to reinvent themselves constantly. Look at this amazing giant project over Sheikh Zayed Road !

What area do you live in?
I live in a beautiful community in the desert. It is a human size condominium with amazing green surroundings. I love this place because of its proximity with Nature. You will not believe me if I tell you it is full of birds, parrots, guinea fowls, and … horses !

If money were no object, where would you most like to live in Dubai?
Where I live !

Your favourite Arabic word or phrase you have learned so far:
Mashallah ! is my favorite word because it remembers me of the time when my children were still small and local people used to give them this beautiful blessing.

Your least favourite word or phrase you have adopted since moving to Dubai:

What has been your best experience in Dubai to date?
I would say afternoon teas with my family and friends in the Hatta wadis.

Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
In a cold country …;-)

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

What is your favourite restaurant in Dubai?
My favorite restaurant is an Asian restaurant which remembers me of my years in Singapore.

What grocery item do you most miss from your home country?
None, because I am very privileged to be a Fine Food importer /distributer sourcing artisan products from very good terroirs including France, of course.

When friends and family visit you in Dubai where will you absolutely take them?
The list is long … but I always take them for a kart ride in the desert then a lunch and afternoon relaxation in Hajar mountains and finally an evening walk in old Dubai, along the creek.

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