Leanne Rachid (BA'18) is a managing director at an ad agency, who has been living in Dubai for the past four years.
What three words best describe Dubai?
Lively, romantic, and bougie.
How did you come to live in Dubai?
I got married in the summer of 2018 and moved to Dubai after. I was already quite familiar with the city and had visited it multiple times.
What do you like most about living there?
I love the lifestyle in Dubai, and I love how safe it is. As a woman, I can walk around the city at any time, wearing anything, and take an Uber at 4 am after a night out and feel completely safe. I love Dubai so much that I honestly miss it before I even leave the city!
Describe your favourite neighbourhood.
Dubai Hills Estate is my favourite neighbourhood because it is full of greenery and parks and lots of dogs! It is also very central and close to everything.
If you could change one thing about Dubai, what would it be?
The weather... it just gets way, way too hot starting in April.
What might surprise a visitor about Dubai?
How welcoming and open most people are here. Also, the city boasts expats from every country you can think of! You can make a friend from every country.
What are your favourite hidden gems or activities that only locals know about?
My fav hidden gems in Dubai are the non-tourist trap restaurants. We have some of the best eateries, coffee roasters, and cafes here, such as Nightjar, Ibn Al Bahr, Muchachas Mexican Cantina, and Mr Crab.
Hatta is also an amazing exclave of Dubai and often gets overlooked by tourists since everyone is so busy with the hustle of Dubai. Hatta is a bit of a drive out of Dubai, but it is a place that boasts an amazing staycation getaway, with activities like zip lining, kayaking, glamping under the stars, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, and water activities.
What’s the most over-rated tourist hotspot?
Nusr-Et, the restaurant of Salt Bae, a Turkish butcher and social media sensation.
How easy is it to meet new people?
I am not going to lie — making friends here is almost impossible if you are not involved in the community. To have an easier time making friends, you should work, or be a part of some sort of organization that drives like-minded people. You need to go out and network for sure!
What issues are particularly important to the people of Dubai?
- Updates on properties and new communities to live in
- Dog-friendly places and spaces where dog owners can take their pets to escape the heat
What is one local custom that every visitor should know about?
It is considered very rude to swear or use vulgar language out loud in public. This is seen as disrespectful, and respect is very important in the UAE community.