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Dubai Expat Interview – Paula & Kirsten

Bubs Boutique photo High res-1This week’s Into-yous features two British expast Paula & Kirsten

Tell us a little about yourself:

Paula: I am from the UK, married to Ben, a Kiwi, and we have two boys aged five and two.  I co own bubsboutique  an online baby store with Kirsten Fairfield.

Kirsten is also from the UK and is married to a South African. Kirsten has three children aged five, two and nine months.

Bubsboutique was established in 2009. We were one of the first of the on-line stores in the region.  Catering primarily for the 0-5 age range, we have sourced brands from around the world, which, are cool and contemporary but don’t compromise on luxury, durability and practicality.  As mums ourselves they are often selected as a result of us having tried and tested them so really do get our seal of approval!

When did you move to Dubai and what brought you here?
Paula: My husband and I moved here in 2007 as he was offered a job. We were living in NZ and wanted to be a bit closer to Europe.

Kirsten: We also moved here in 2007 for my husband’s job from London. We were excited about new challenges and a new country to explore.

Have you been an expat elsewhere and if so, where?
Paula: Yes quite a bit. My Dad was in the Army so I lived in Germany when I was young.  I spend my gap year in the States.  I lived in Bahrain for a couple of years in my mid 20s.  I met Ben in London and he convinced me to move to NZ which I did and we had a great time living there for 4.5 years before we moved to Dubai. It’s a very special place for us.

Kirsten: My parents were expats in South Africa. We moved back to the UK when I was seven. My husband was an expat in London as he’s from South Africa, but Dubai was our first move together as a family.

The best advice you were given to prepare you for life in Dubai?
Paula: We were both so excited about moving here I don’t think we even thought to ask any questions. We are the sort of people who just gets on with things and embrace the madness of the situation.

Kirsten: Everyone always said you can always go back to the UK if you don’t like it. We were lucky enough to have a friend here which helped us settle very quickly, we came for one year and have now been here six – and I can’t see us going anywhere soon!

What surprised you most about Dubai?
Paula: The rapid expansion and the speed in which it happened is just phenomenal.  I had been in Dubai in 2003 and I just had to pinch myself when we moved here in 2007. The sheer volume of buildings and construction that was occurring was something I don’t think we will ever experience again.

Kirsten: How western this place is. I originally had the image that you would always have to wear clothes that covered you, there was no alcohol etc. When you get here of course you can wear shorts and t-shirts and the nightlife is as good, if not better than other major cities around the world.

What area do you live in?
Paula: I live in Umm Suqeim; I must admit I do love living in this area and feel very blessed. We love our house as it’s close to everything. You actually feel like you live in the Middle East and we just love the beach.

Kirsten: I live in The Lakes, and I find it so convenient and it’s great for families. I have lots of friends that live in The Lakes too and we love to pop over to each other’s houses for a cup of tea and share school runs! There is a real sense of community.

If money were no object, where would you most like to live in Dubai?
Paula: If money was no object I would still live in Umm Suqeim. However, a chilled pool would be good, as a dip now in our pool is like a hot bath!

Kirsten: Umm I think a big villa on The Palm would be nice or a Hattan in The Lakes

Your favourite Arabic word or phrase you have learned so far?
Paula: It’s probably very predictable but I love the word habbibi/habbiti.  I feel quite embarrassed that my son who is five knows far more Arabic than I do and I really should rectify the situation!

Kirsten: Shukran – it’s always nice to say thank you in the person’s language.

Your least favourite word or phrase you have adopted since moving to Dubai?
Paula: I think for me it would be ‘it’s out for delivery’. It’s the stock standard line we are given when we are chasing up deliveries which have not got to customers on time etc and have gone missing.  We can be given this answer 101 times before getting to the bottom of an issue.

Kirsten: Insha’Allah – I could never quite guess if something was going to get done. It basically means ‘it might – but I’m not promising!!’

What has been your best experience in Dubai to date?
Paula: In six years I feel very lucky to have had two beautiful happy boys, built a successful business and met some truly fabulous people from around the world.  I do feel very blessed with our life.

Kirsten: Being lucky enough to have my three children in such a lovely city. This place is so geared up for kids why would I want to go anywhere else, especially while they are all so young?

Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
Paula: We will be heading to the UK in the summer we’ve booked the flight but beyond that we are on the laid back Kiwi vibe of my husband, and will sort out what we do once we are there.

Kirsten: My next holiday is also the UK, but my wish list is endless! We hope to go East for our next family holiday. It’s just picking the destination that’s the challenge!

Who is the person you most miss when you are in Dubai?
Paula: It’s the obvious friends and family.

Kirsten: The same. It would be perfect if I had my mum and best friends round the corner.

What is your favourite restaurant in Dubai?
Paula: We are so spoilt here as there are so many fabulous places to go and we definitely have a few favourites.  I would love to say La Petite Maison is my favourite but I need my husband to take me there far more times to just confirm why!

Kirsten: Mine is Pai Thai at Al Qasr. Saying that, there are still so many I want to try. Zuma is next on the hit list.

What grocery item do you most miss from your home country?
Paula: The range of fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables. Sometimes I can have a pear that doesn’t go ripe for several weeks – and that can’t be right.  Thank goodness for the Ripe organic market.

Kirsten: The bread. I don’t know what it is about the bread in the UK, but it never tastes the same here!!

When friends and family visit you in Dubai where will you absolutely take them?
Paula: With the boys it’s all about letting them run around like lunatics so during the day Safa Park and the Archive are just heavenly. We love the beach, the Jetty Lounge at the One &Only Royal Mirage is always a big hit. Rivington Grill and the fountains at Souk Al Bahar, an abra ride on the creek …. So much to do – it’s not all about shopping malls.

Kirsten: We tend to hit the beach and swimming pools. We always have a trip to a water park and indulge in the nice restaurants Dubai has to offer. The Madinat and The Palm always seem to be on the agenda for the views.

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