Not us here in the Middle East: we have Expatwoman!
Expatwoman is the first stop (and a one stop shop, at that) for anyone thinking of relocating to the Middle East, especially, Dubai.
I had not yet moved to Dubai and Expatwoman had already given me a virtual taste of what to expect when we got there. And, in the 5 years we have been here, the site has just grown to be one of the most informative sources for expats. Need to know about visa procedures, local customs, laws, schools, where to live, where to party, where to find a gardener? Expatwoman has all the answers! I imagine EW has the answers to the questions we haven’t even thought of.
When we finally arrived in Dubai and were starting to settle, I found myself logging on daily to check out the Dubai forum. The forum is like a chatroom for women (though I am sure there are also a few men lurking on there behind girlie sounding usernames enjoying the ‘gossip’ as much as we girls!). Topics ranged from tenants’ rights to the crazy rental prices, from how to employ reliable home help to who knows competent maintenance guys, from school runs to the crazy drivers one meeets on a daily basis.
But, after a few weeks, I realised the forum was much more than this! These virtual friends talked about everything. Behind the security of anonymity, women discussed the most intimate details of their lives from bedroom practices to suspicious behaviour by DH, from fertility issues to how to ditch the Dubai stone/babyweight/holiday weight, from loneliness to how to extricate oneself from a negative friendship/relationship. Sometimes it seems as if some people can’t live their lives without polling EW’s views. What should I eat for dinner? Couch to 5k or the Circuit Factory? Should I go red or stay blonde? What should I wear to a friend’s wedding/birthday/job interview. Where to holiday, eat, zumba, do pilates? To stay in Dubai or to leave? To Botox or not to Botox?
EW reading becomes addictive. Everyone has a view. With so many nationalities based in Dubai, and probably at least one representative from each one logged on to EW, the threads can be fascinating, funny, arrogant, lighthearted, heartbreaking, annoying, entertaining, controversial, and yet EW remains informative, supportive and educational; all part of of that rich human blend that makes up life in Dubai.
PS – I should point out, I am in no way affiliated with or connected to EW…just an avid user!