Saudi Diva Lessons: Follow your Own Path

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After moving to Dubai in April of 2010, I began an editorial internship at a publishing company. I actually started contacting many publishing companies while I was still in London for interning opportunities. Getting one response was enough. I only needed one internship to justify to my dad why I wasn’t going back home. Dubai was the next best thing after my London experience since I don’t need a visit, resident or work visa to live here.

You would think that this would simplify the process of getting a job in Dubai, right? The reality is that the visa situation is irrelevant when you’re trying to get into the publishing and media industry.

So, what did I do once I landed in Dubai? since my internship didn’t start until a month or so after I arrived to the city. Where did I stay? I actually stayed at four different hotels and hotel apartments for a whole year.

After a year of staying at different hotels and hotel apartments, I managed to rent out a studio apartment in JLT – which I’ve been living in since then. The building that I live in isn’t good though. My unit has required ongoing maintenance since I moved there in 2011.

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 contract until I had a full-time job. Which never happened really and I’m glad that it didn’t! but that’s not because I’m a failure. It’s because the career change learning curve was so huge and being in a competitive industry, I couldn’t get a full-time or even part-time job.

If I were in my twenties, maybe I wouldn’t mind interning for free until an opportunity comes up. But not at my age. I’d rather write on my own blog and self-publish than do the same work for someone else at unpaid terms!

I have to point out that my father was always against this career shift. He’s a businessman and doesn’t quite understand the creative industry and how things work. Coming from an accounting background and a completely business perspective, it’s difficult for him to understand why anyone would work for free – let alone write a blog and help promote and support other businesses!

It took around three years for him to stop asking me to go back to Saudi. When I first moved 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.

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