Confessions of a Saudi Diva: FAQ’s about moving to Dubai

In the previous post, I explained how I managed to leave Saudi by enrolling in a foundation course with London College of Fashion, and then not being able to complete that course due to its intensity.

Today’s post will be a short one. Mainly because I only have an hour before it’s time for me to rush back home to change and head to my Zumba class.

After moving to Dubai in April of 2010, I decided to take up an internship at a publishing company. I actually started contacting many publishing companies while I was still in London to ask if I could intern. Although I only got one response – that was enough. I only needed one internship to justify to my dad why I wasn’t going back home. Since I couldn’t stay in London, Dubai was the next best thing. I don’t need a visit visa or a resident visa to stay. I don’t even need a work visa to work.

Anyone would think that this would definitely simplify the process of getting a job after moving to Dubai. Right? wrong. Not when you’re trying to get into publishing and the media industry. You can have a look at this post to see the things that I managed to complete and the qualifications that I got since moving to Dubai.

So, what did I do once I landed in Dubai? Well, my internship didn’t start until a month or so after I arrived to the city. Where did I stay? I stayed at four different hotels and hotel apartments for a full year. You would think: well, that can’t be so bad, staying at hotels and all.

I somewhat agree. Except that one particular property in old Dubai was infested with cockroaches and bed bugs! the creatures wouldn’t die, even when sprayed with strong insect repellent. The reason was that the buildings were too old.

Of course, a roach raid is fairly insignificant when you’re trying to think of ways to run away and never go back home! a few months later, I moved to a better hotel apartment. One which was clean, neat, tidy and where many guests were staying long-term (each with their own story). The doors even had normal keys and not hotel key card. This made the property feel more like a home, than a hotel.

After exactly one year of staying at various hotels and hotel apartments, I managed to rent out a studio apartment in JLT – which I’ve been living in ever since then. The building that I live in isn’t good though. My unit has required ongoing maintenance since I moved there in 2011. Just today, I had the maintenance team check a leakage in the bathroom ceiling – which needs to be sorted. A water pipe needs to be replaced. It’s endless. From day one until today.

Let me tell you a little secret; I actually signed my apartment contract without even telling my dad that I was renting a place. He was against the idea of me staying in a flat with a long-term rent until I had a permanent job. Which never happened really! but that’s not because I’m a failure. It’s because the learning curve for me to change careers was so huge, and being in a competitive industry, I just couldn’t get someone to hire me full-time. If I were in my twenties, maybe I wouldn’t mind interning for free until someone decides to hire me. But not at my age. I’d rather write on my own blog (for free) than do the same work for someone else (for free)!

Another reason that it’s taking me long to achieve my goal of getting paid for my work is the fact that I’m doing everything on my own and figuring things out along the way. I have no mentor, no guidance from a friend, no support from a partner, and no emotional support from family either.

All I have is the support from my good friends and blog followers. Those are the good people who understand what it takes to follow a dream and work hard towards making it a reality.

An intelligent and life-smart girl once told me that my parents are the reason that I’m always behind. She says that they pull me back when I try to go ahead. Which I think is so true. Although I do my best to ignore them and just keep moving forward and do my own thing, it still somehow effects you.

My father was always against this career shift. He’s a businessman and doesn’t quite understand the creative industry and how things work. How it’s crucial to keep working for free until you can get paid for what you do. He simply doesn’t get it. Coming from an accounting degree background and a pure business perspective on things, it’s difficult for him to understand why anyone would work for free – let alone write a blog and support other businesses!

It took around three years for him to stop asking me to go back to Saudi. After moving to Dubai, he would try to convince me to move back to Saudi and work for Saudi Aramco (again) in every single phone call or personal conversation we had when he visited Dubai. This lasted for at least three years. Only recently, his mind shifted towards the idea that maybe I can get a paid job in media. He still doesn’t fully support a journalism or media-related career, but at least he stopped asking me to consider moving back to Saudi.

As you can see, I’m still trying to make it in my new chosen career. I must prove to myself, my family, and everyone around me that I can make it. It’s only a matter of time. I know it.

Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have about the topic of escaping a restrictive culture and society. Mainly because I won’t answer those questions if we meet in person! that’s what this blog is for! So ask now if you need to.

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  • Kevin says:

    Persevere Nada! My daughter had the same experience. Being moved from internship to internship working for free. Eventually after many years of perseverance she found a job working with a magazine and actually getting paid!! I truly believe that perseverance pays off and I had to give my daughter many pep talks as she struggled to keep faith that one day she would make the break through.
    You have a rare talent and I believe that your efforts will bear fruit.

    • Nada says:

      I’m so grateful to have your support Kevin! your comment came at a very vital time. As just today I was being offered a paid internship and I wasn’t sure whether to take it or not! I will write you an e-mail and wait for your advise before I take any further action 🙂 Thank you so much!!!!

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