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Dubai Expat Interviews – Michelle McDonald

This week’s Into-yous features British expat Michelle McDonald

Tell us a little about yourself
I am the founder of a fun social networking company organizing fabulous dinners, cruises, safari’s and other informal occasions for Dubai professionals looking to increase their circle of friends and contacts. My passions are food and socializing, so gooseberry is a natural fit for me and I’m having a blast meeting new people and setting up events.

When did you move to Dubai and what brought you here?
I moved here in September, 2007. I first visited Dubai in May 07 – working at the Air Show for my UK company. I took a few days holiday afterwards and the combination of city life with the beach and an afternoon at Yalumba made up my mind then and there!

Have you been an expat elsewhere and if so, where?
No, although I’ve lived all over the UK. Prior to coming to Dubai I was back in my beautiful hometown of Stamford in Lincolnshire, which is about as far removed from the sandpit as you can get!

The best advice you were given to prepare you for life in Dubai
Carry at least 24 passport photo’s on you for the first few months, dig your exam certificates out the loft and “Inshallah“… things will happen when they happen and not a moment before!

What surprised you most about Dubai?
The close proximity of everything. I love that you can be chilled on the beach, pottering about the creek or doing some serious business at DIFC in the space of minutes.

What area do you live in?
I live in the Greens and you may have seen me out and about with my gorgeous foster dog, Bob who is keeping me fit!

If money were no object, where would you most like to live in Dubai?
I’d really like to be in a villa simply so that I could go upstairs to bed and have a garden – although I love the Greens – it has a fantastic community feel and is so convenient for everything.

Your favorite Arabic word or phrase you have learned so far

Your least favorite word or phrase you have adopted since moving to Dubai
Make U turn and come back side” which gets you a funny look when you say it to a cabbie in the UK!

What has been your best experience in Dubai to date?
Overnight safari with my fabulous friend Ahid who runs Beyond the Dunes, my birthday party with 85 friends on a catamaran and some relaxing weekends away in the other Emirates.

Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
Can’t see me having a holiday for some time, although I’m 40 in November, so I should get something organized!

Who is the person you most miss when you are in Dubai?
My family of course who are all in Lincolnshire. Lovely Mum is in the picture with me when I did a surprise visit home on Christmas day one year.

What is your favourite restaurant in Dubai?
Too many to list just one, and new ones being added all the time! Mezzanine is gorgeous and the food is fabulous at Verre. The Ivy is next up to visit.

What grocery item do you most miss from your home country?
I miss UK supermarkets full stop – from the way they are laid out, to the 2 for 1 offers, to the fact you always meet someone for a chin wag in them! If there was a Bakers Oven in Dubai for a Saturday morning post-shopping sausage roll that’d be great!

When friends and family visit you in Dubai where will you absolutely take them?
Next time I have visitors we will explore further afield from Dubai and at least go to Fujairah so they can see the difference, but in Dubai we tend to get into holiday mode and visit The Creek, 360, the must-do brunch, safari and boat trips.

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