In June 2013 I handed in my notice at the design agency I was working for in Camden, north London, to start a new chapter in my life and to fulfil a life long ambition, to live and work abroad. I had accepted a job as a senior graphic designer for a branding agency here in Dubai.
When I first had inclinations to move abroad after graduating from university, my first thoughts were similar to many young people in the UK, to go 'down under'. Australia or New Zealand, where they locals speak English, the sun supposedly always shines and everyone's a surfer! Dubai was not a place that had even registered on my radar, let alone as a possible place to develop my career as a designer.
Between graduating in 2004 and 2013 I moved to London where I started to establish my career as a graphic designer, working for a number of design and marketing agencies. I soon settled in to loving London life and a couple of years later I met Sarah, who little did I know then, would become my wife!
Sarah and I had brilliant group of friends, we had our own flat, she had a amazing job working at the V&A Museum and I was enjoying working as a senior designer, all in all life was pretty good!
Our First Taste of Dubai
It was in 2009 when Dubai first entered our thoughts, my sister had recently moved out there and we decided to make a stop over on our way back from a holiday to Thailand. Up until then our vision (stereotype) of Dubai had been the same as many Europeans, a hot and dusty metropolis rising from the desert, on the back of oil money, going for it, boom or bust! But like many people, when we arrived our preconceptions were soon changed, instead we found an ambitious city, a great quality of life and all year round sunshine, as well as the lure of tax free living.
So on the back our first experience we soon booked our second trip. Armed with my portfolio and CV in hand I decided to contact and set up meetings with a number of agencies, to get a taste of the design industry in the region and expressed my interest in any potential. A month later and I had my first bite, an agency who I had met on my trip contacted me to see how real my interest really was and with that the reality of moving abroad started to hit home. Was this something we really wanted to pursue? But a couple of months soon passed and all had gone quite, we were back in to London life and making decisions for the future.
Six months later, at the end of May 2013, I received another email from the same agency asking me for a Skype interview, soon followed by a job offer at the beginning of June with a start date of mid July, should I wish to accept it. Things were getting very real!
A Decision Not Taken Lightly
It’s not until an opportunity is presented to you that you start to really think about all the consequences and the what ifs. So it was crunch time, we needed to make a big decision on our futures. I has been given a couple of weeks to mull it over and during that time many discussions where had with friends and family and much advice was given. The conclusion was that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that would be hard not to take it.
So with much deliberation we decided to go for it! Life's to short not to take these types of opportunities and to anyone who is considering a move abroad, I would just say do it, you can always go home! How will you ever know if you don't give it a go.
A New Chapter
On the morning of 23rd July 2013 I left London on a one way ticket, my wife Sarah stayed on for a further six months to finish up a project at work, while I settled in to Dubai Life and what would go on to be the start of the best two years of our lives to date. I soon got to grips with my new role, with a great branding agency, North55. I was soon learning new skills, starting to understand how business works in the Middle East and making friends that we will keep for life. We have gaining experiences that we would never have had in London and traveled to parts of the world that we could have only imagined before. Moving to Dubai has been an unbelievable experience and one I would highly recommend.
Through this journal I plan to write about my experiences of living and working here in the sandpit they call Dubai, so please pop by again soon and say hello!