The UAE

We moved here in January 2017 on a whim, with absolutely no idea of what we were getting ourselves into – other than a change of scene and hopefully a no-income-tax-aided payrise.

We aren’t going to lie, we came here to make money as much as we did for overseas experience. We didn’t want to take the same well-trodden path of so many other Kiwis and live in London for two years – with other Kiwis. Not that coming here is really going out on a cultural limb when the population is 8- per cent ex-pats.

I started this section only to help those who need it, with some advice on what to do in the UAE. I’m not a blogger by trade, and am more than a little wary of the hundreds of bloggers throughout Dubai, all claiming to be an expert on one thing or another. I’m not really an expert on anything. I am a journalist, though, so I’m really hoping that this might be a blog where I can at least string a sentence or two together in half-decent English. Please, point out all my spelling mistakes.

During my first six months here, I worked for What’s On, meaning I got to take part in a bunch of cool things about town. So at least I have some idea of what’s good around here.

Since June, I’ve been working at The National in Abu Dhabi, meaning a daily commute to the neighbouring emirate. While this is somewhat of a ballache, I’m also in the unique position of being able to get to know the country’s two biggest cities simultaneously. And there’s a lot to know.

First of all, Abu Dhabi is home to some of the best cheap eats I’ve ever seen – and the best cheap Lebanese place in the country. Reason enough to buy a plane ticket to the capital if you ask me.

Dubai, although people don’t realise it, is also home to a plethora of hole-in-the-wall eateries and authentic canteens. You just need to know where to go.

Then, if you’re having a week where you’re particularly flush with cash – why not splash out on one of the city’s best/ most ridiculous restaurants. Eat a burger dusted in gold and then hate yourself for days afterwards.

And after you’ve stuffed yourself full of delicious food, you’re going to need to find a gym to work off all those calories. Luckily, we spent nine months exploring free gym trials in the city and have found the best one: Smart Fitness in JLT. 

We’ve also got you covered with our pick of two of the UAE’s best hotels, and will be adding to them when (and if) we can manage to take holidays. Jumeirah Al Naseem is by far the best hotel we’ve come across in Dubai, while the Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah is the perfect short weekend trip.

And of course, we’ll be slowly updating this with our picks of where to go and what to see around the city (in no ways being an expert on the matter).

I’m just a girl, sitting in front of a million really tall, shining towers, some man-made islands and at least three Ferraris – wondering what the hell I am doing here.