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Dubai Expat Interviews – Samantha Wood

This week’s Into-yous features British/Greek-Cypriot expat Samantha Wood

Tell us a little about yourself
A secret foodie, I have been passionate about food ever since I can remember. An extensive communications career in Europe and the Middle East, of which a huge chunk has been in the travel industry (that’s a lot of lunches and dinners) go some way to fine tuning my taste buds.I adore discovering new eateries, whether that’s the simplicity of a cafe, the authenticity of a street joint, the glamour of a fine dining experience, or just the most scrumptious cup cake. Or even where to buy the best tea or chocolate. With Dubai’s burgeoning dining scene, and a real gap in the market for a website dedicated to impartial, intelligent restaurant reviews and foodie features, FooDiva brings you my very own critique on where to dine, and what to eat, and in some cases where to buy it. Bon appétit!

When did you move to Dubai and what brought you here?
I relocated to Dubai from London in 1999 for a new job opportunity in PR for the hospitality industry. Tax-free salaries and the sun made for an easy decision!

Have you been an expat elsewhere and if so, where?
I spent my early years growing up in the Caribbean thanks to my father’s job as a hotel General Manager.

The best advice you were given to prepare you for life in Dubai
Always follow-up on every task until it is completed – don’t ever take a yes for granted. Unfortunately just because someone says they will do something does not mean they will.

What surprised you most about Dubai?
The variety of F&B (food and beverage) options – even back in 1999, the choice of where to go and eat/ drink was tremendous. And the restaurant scene has clearly grown exponentially since then.

If money were no object, where would you most like to live in Dubai?
A wind-tower apartment in Old Town with a huge terrace overlooking the dancing fountains.

Your favourite Arabic word or phrase you have learned so far
Shway shway – slowly slowly. Pace of life here for some I guess!

Your least favourite word or phrase you have adopted since moving to Dubai
“Timings” – so very Dubai.

What has been your best experience in Dubai to date?
Taking in Dubai’s magical fountains whilst dining at Rivington Grill. The dancing music never ceases to amaze me. I find myself wanting to visit every week (good food and service helps!).

Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
Looks like I will be visiting Crete and Morocco for two different weddings. I am desperate for a holiday in New Zealand and Australia. Aside from Dubai, Sydney is my favourite city.

Who is the person you most miss when you are in Dubai?
I can’t just pick one! My family and friends are scattered around the world – but we visit each other regularly and plan holidays together which is much more qualitative.

What is your favourite restaurant in Dubai?
La Petite Maison at DIFC. Its cuisine is French Nicoise. Dishes are served from the open plan kitchen as and when they are ready, with the idea of sharing. Food, service, location, atmosphere are all top notch – it’s worth every dirham.

What grocery item do you most miss from your home country?
Authentic halloumi cheese from Cyprus’ many little villages – completely different to the brands supermarkets sell here.

When friends and family visit you in Dubai where will you absolutely take them?
Without a doubt, first stop is always Dubai’s dancing fountains!

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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).

I moved to Dubai in July 1998 when my husband got a job out here.

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