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Being a Teenager in Dubai

teensMoving to a new country can be worrying and especially for the older child.  Younger children may just be thinking of it as great big adventure but the older child will be worried about leaving all their friends and making new ones – how will they be accepted, what about all the cliques?  However, Dubai is just the place to make new friends, with its HUGE expat community your teen will soon be coming home with friends from all over the world.  It doesn’t matter whether they attend a French, American or English curriculum school they will soon be talking about their friends who come from countries as far afield as Fiji or as near as France.

Kids at schools in Dubai are very used to new people turning up in their class at all ages and so welcome the ‘newbies’ with open arms.  In addition to school life, Dubai offers an array of outside school activities which are another great avenue for making friends for both the children and their parents.  Activities include sport (rugby, netball, football, softball, swimming, diving, golf, gymnastics….the list is endless), music, drama and dance.  It is also an ideal place to take up a new hobby such as sailing, scuba diving or how about snow-boarding but all year round!  Many of the schools operate the ‘Duke of Edinburgh Award’  and your teen will soon be camping in the desert which to many is much more appealing than trying to set up a tent in a howling gale on top of Snowdonia.  By the time they are 16 years old they will be coming home telling you they are off trekking in Nepal and Vietnam or off on a Geography trip to Ethiopia as if it’s quite normal.

Educationally life in Dubai is not too different from back in their home countries.  High schools in Dubai achieve great results and so teens are busy doing their homework in the evenings.  At weekends (Friday & Saturday) the children meet up with friends at the mall, the beach or at someones house.

The fashion conscience teen need not worry that they are going to miss out by living in Dubai as the malls here have all the big names but even better they are all under one roof making shopping easy.  They can explore brands such as Top Shop, H&M, Jack Wills, Hollister, Garage, Forever 21, American Eagle, Victoria Secrets etc etc.  There is also an excellent choice of sports, surfing and skate boarding fashions too.

In recent years the UAE has become a regular venue on most of the music industry tours so access to see all the top names in concert is easy.  Last year Rhianna, Justin Timberlake, John Newman, Jessie J, Olly Murs, Macklemore to  name just a few all performed in the UAE.  Its not just music concerts which the kids look forward to – Dubai’s biggest event in the calendar is the Dubai Rugby Sevens which the kids whether they are rugby players or not all love.

Independence as far as transport can sometimes be a bit of a challenge and Mum & Dad maybe called upon to be more of a taxi service than they would back home.  There is public transport (buses and metro) but it doesn’t always connect to all the residential areas. Teenagers do catch taxis but you should advise them to catch a lift with friends and always to text you the colour of the roof of the taxi and the taxi number on the side of the car for added safety.

Another point to remember is to remind your children to be culturally sensitive and to dress appropriately when out in public ie in the malls.  Girls should avoid wearing short skirts or shorts and boys should leave the ‘offensive’ T-Shirts at home!

Having teens myself I know you can’t just show them this article to persuade them that it will be all OK – but it will and in no time they will be ‘snap chatting’ their friends back in drizzly England with pictures of them on the beach with a a group of friends.

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