Classifieds powered by Gulf News

J for Jobs: Home away from home

As part of the A to Z of the UAE, we talk to a few expats to find out how the nation has helped them realise their dreams

Image Credit: Supplied
Clockwise from left: Claude Al Hachache, Sophie Toh, Ursula Sommer, Dr B.R. Shetty, Sebastian Nohse, Sitangshu Ranjan Das and Yusuffali M.A.

Claude Al Hachache, Lebanese, owner and creative director of Carla K Styling

Why I came to the UAE

“I moved to Dubai in the summer of 2007 to explore job opportunities in the UAE. As I stepped out of the airport, I was instantly hit by the heat and humidity, simply wanting to go back to Lebanon. But, now after 10 years, I’m glad I didn’t.” 

My journey

“The first six months were challenging as I was trying to settle down in this new country. Today, Dubai is no longer just an opportunity for me, it is my home. I’m grateful for what it has offered me over the years. This is the city where I fulfilled my ambition of starting my own business.” 

Five years from now

“I see myself still living in Dubai, growing emotionally and professionally. I plan to turn my salon into a successful chain with branches all over the UAE.”  

Yusuffali MA, Indian, Chairman — LuLu Group International

Why I came to the UAE

“My father and uncles had a trading business in Abu Dhabi. I joined them in 1973. The life and infrastructure in Abu Dhabi then was a far cry from what it is today. It was tough, but we still enjoyed as we all lived together as one big family.”

My journey

“The rapid economic growth in the UAE during the 1970s fueled the upswing of our business. In the early 1990s, during the peak of the Gulf War, when investors were hesitant to invest in this region, we decided to go ahead and launch supermarkets and department stores throughout the UAE. Today we control more than 32 per cent of the UAE’s organised retail sector.”

Future plans

“Now as we are established in the UAE’s economic and social fabric, my goal is to take the LuLu brand to far-off places in the nation.” 

Ursula Sommer, Swiss, Head of Admissions, Swiss International Scientific School Dubai

Why I came to the UAE

“I arrived in the UAE in 2014 with my husband to become part of the founding team of Swiss International Scientific School Dubai (SISD), which at that time was little more than a premium concept and a plot of sand. Within a year we had a fantastic building, hired an amazing team and recruited 250 students.” 

My journey

“It has been a great experience getting to know Dubai, its people and culture. Professionally, it has been challenging but rewarding to build our diverse SISD family.”

Realising my goals

“We are still on a very steep learning curve, and making our bilingual curriculum work is a huge challenge. Personally, I have so far only seen a small part of this fascinating world, and learning some basic Arabic is still top on my to-do list.”  

Sitangshu Ranjan Das, Bangladeshi, driver with a Dubai-based taxi operator

Why I came to the UAE

“After finishing my school leaving examination, I started working in a local library in Sylhet. I decided to move to Dubai to boost my income. I first came here to work in a food company in 1987 and changed a number of jobs — I even tried running a tailoring business — before settling down as a cab driver in 2000.” 

My journey

“I take great pride in keeping my vehicle spick and span for my passengers, who often compliment me for the cleanliness of my car and tip me in currencies of their own countries. My prized possession is the collection of coins from 179 countries, all given by passengers I ferried in the last 16 years.” 

Future plans

“Work for a few more years, save money and retire peacefully.” 

Sophie Toh, British, Founder and MD of Toh PR 

Why I came to the UAE

“I initially came to the UAE for my husband’s job, but it quickly became clear that I wasn’t leaving any time soon. Career opportunities opened up incredibly quickly and I was struck by how much can be achieved here with hard work, persistence and focus. I haven’t looked back since setting up the agency in 2009.”

My journey

“Like anything hard-fought and of value, my professional journey in the UAE has had its fair share of ups and downs, moments of utter despair and moments of incredible highs. I’m very grateful for all the support shown to me by clients, industry professionals and media, who have always given me the ability to pick myself up from a near disaster and keep moving forward positively.”

Realising my goals

“I have certainly experienced more in my career than I ever thought possible, but I still have many more boxes to tick and goals to reach in all aspects of my life.”

Sebastian Nohse, German, Director of Culinary, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

Why I came to the UAE

“During our travels around the world, we experienced many amazing cultures, but we never found a place where we truly felt at home. With so many nationalities shaping the city, we never felt foreign in Dubai. It seamlessly became a second home for us. We are now on our second stint in Dubai.” 

My journey

 “I decided early in my life that I wanted to travel and experience food and cultures of various countries in the world. So, despite not being able to speak English very well, I ventured out of Germany and worked in various cities across the world, including in the UK, Hong Kong and the US. When my wife, Candice, got pregnant with our daughter we decided to move here from the US, as we felt more at home in Dubai.”

Five years from now…

“Dubai is my home and I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.”

Dr B.R. Shetty, Indian, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, NMC Healthcare

Why I came to the UAE

“I came to the UAE as I wanted to pay off a loan that I had taken on behalf of my sister in India. Since my luggage was lost, I landed in the UAE with nothing but the clothes on my back and the equivalent of $8 in my pocket.”

Realising my goals

“My biggest goal has always been to offer quality health care to all at affordable prices. NMC has achieved that goal to a great degree of satisfaction over the past 40 years.” 

Future plans

“My dream is to start a medical university in Abu Dhabi and address the concern for home-grown medical talent.”

Loading...