On the move: Starting again in Dubai

Our on the move this month is a jet-setting and enthusiastic Norah Franchetti, who chose to continue her moving streak with her most recent, fourth international move to Dubai.

Tell us about where you’re from and where have you lived previously?

I’m from Edinburgh, Scotland. I’ve lived in Long Beach, Southern California, London, and Hong Kong. 


What was the reason behind your move?

I moved in October 2011. I decided after 10 years in California, that it was time for a change. I wanted to move somewhere a bit more international. Also to a part of the world where I had travelled and worked before. I had been to Dubai many times previously but never really explored.


How do you describe your move? 

It was excellent. Dubai has its complexities in administration when moving here. I had people in Dubai helping with all the registrations, finding me a great place to live and with my move. In some ways I like to move – it gives you a great sense of ‘cleaning out’ – almost cathartic! The key thing was to be organised, make lists, give things away. I also had a car boot sale that paid for a going away party! It was a bit weird too, leaving everything you had known for 10 years and especially people, it’s always about people!  But with Skype, FB and other technology – it’s really easy to keep in touch.


What’s your favourite thing about living in Dubai?

Oh my goodness there are so many. Despite what people think we have great weather. Yes it gets very, very hot for 4-5 months but then it’s great the rest of the time. I have made lots of friends who are like minded, many who have travelled more than me which is pretty rare. I really love the marina and being close to the beach. It’s an accessible hub for 2/3rds of the world and so there are some wonderful places to travel from here. I have done a lot of trips to Africa since I got here and have been able to travel to wonderful countries like Jordan and Oman. There are gym’s a plenty, most complexes have a pool and lots of other facilities. Oh and did I mention the food! Wonderful food, fabulous restaurants and experiences. I love that Dubai is growing so fast, new buildings go up like Lego! Finally it’s an easy way of life, lots of really good services and service and no income tax!


Where do you hangout in Dubai? 

I travel a lot so my very favourite hangout is simply on my balcony overlooking the boats on the marina. We have an area called the Madinat Jumeirah which is full of bars and restaurants as well as a little souk (an Arab market) to shop. I like to go down there a lot.


What are some of the similarities of living in UK and Dubai?

There is a big UK population here so good British friends. We also have a large population of Asian expats so there are many great Indian and Pakistani restaurants. It’s full of British shops: Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, and soon to be John Lewis I hear!


What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced living out there?

Traffic, they drive fast and furious – it’s not unusual to see a speeding Ferrari or Lamborghini flying past as you drive around.


What advice would you give for people who want to move to Dubai? 

Take it for what it is, the locals are only 20% of the population so don’t expect to meet or befriend any Emeriti national. It’s a bit like Las Vegas, Disney, New York and a melting pot of cultures in a fantastic city in the middle of the desert. It does not suit everyone – it’s fast and busy but there are great places to get away. If you are moving here for the first time stay open-minded, look for the positives, and enjoy the wonderful experience. Dubai is only 7 hours from the UK – and there are so many flights to/from the UK every day, so you are never far away.


Moving to Dubai? View our detailed guide for some tips and hacks.