Check out this glossory so you won't be at a loss for words in the company of Saffers

Specific outlets
As yet there are not many Dubai dining outlets that cater especially for South Africans, but a favourite meeting place is the Barasti at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi.

This has the bonus of being outdoors, and the hotel manager, Mike Scully, is one of the South African community's longest residents. Word is that the Springbok bar, a meeting point for supporters of the South African rugby team, having left the Capitol Hotel in Satwa, is to reopen at a new venue.

One of the few aspects of South African culture shared by all its cultural groups is a fondness for a braai. It is essentially a barbecue with boerewors rather than burgers, but it is a ritual of immense cultural resonance. "Your father tells you how to braai," says TJ Van Rooyen, "in the same way he explains the facts of life."

This means brother or habbibi.

"But where were you from before that?" is one question that Henri Schomper, a white security consultant, hates. Even today, many UAE residents are still astonished that South Africans can be white.

His experience, however, is shared by South Africans of Indian descent, says Aslam Moola, a petroleum executive and part of Dubai's large Muslim South African community (over 80 families get together to braai at Eid).

And the growing number of black South Africans in Dubai, can expect much the same. At a recent job interview, Sharjah-based teacher Angelian Ndlovu was surprised to be told, "I didn't expect you to be black."

Most black South Africans in the UAE are currently based in Abu Dhabi but Ashley Dlamini, a black design engineer, says that after six years in Dubai he now sees a growing number of black faces on the plane to Johannesburg.

"South Africans have an ability to laugh at themselves more than most (other nationalities)," says Warwick Smith, a Spinneys executive. Most South Africans, in fact, rate humour as a key national quality. Yet, says Anco Fourie, "people often don't get our jokes."

A traditional butt of jokes about Afrikaners is a character called Van der Merwe. In one joke, he is watching a rugby test match against the British Lions. Next to him is the only empty seat in a packed stadium.

"Who does that seat belong to?" asks his neighbour. "It's for my wife." "But why isn't she here?" "She died." "So why didn't you give the ticket to one of your friends?" "They've all gone to the funeral."

There is a tie-rack by the desk in the office of Nigel Harvey. It's there in case of need, but unless the situation requires it, even leading executives are happy to wear their shirts open-necked.

An expression of resignation (literally "yes, well, no, fine").

Just now
The originality of the South African approach to English vowel sounds is well-known. But their distinctive way with vocabulary can still catch out the unwary. If a South African says he will do something "just now", this only means "at some point in the future". If he says "now now" this could mean the near future, although not necessarily.

This means good or fine. It is the standard response to the greeting "Howzit?"

Longest resident
After 23 years in Dubai, Rory O'Connor, director of Arenco Real Estate says, "I still haven't left South Africa." However, obliged to socialise for many years with Brits, he admits he now barbecues rather than braais.

To the relief of nutritionists, South Africans alternate their voracious consumption of meat with maize. Over half the arable land in South Africa is dedicated to it, and it is enjoyed in various forms by all of the Rainbow Nation's communities. A staple is mieliepap, which can be eaten with milk and sugar or, slightly drier, with meat or gravy.

Nelson Mandela
Practically no South African will tolerate disrespect towards Madiba. The peaceful dismantling of apartheid is a source of immense pride for almost all South Africans and the basis for an identity based on multiculturalism and multi-racialism.

Pronounced "poy-kee-kawse" this, along with the braai, is a key test of a South African's culinary bravura. Potjie are small black, three-legged, round-bellied pots that are used to cook vegetable and meat stews over many hours on an open fire.

They make the perfect accompaniment for a camping trip to the desert, says Calvyn Hamman, general manager of Toyota Parts. Also, as with most aspects of South African life, they are an excuse for a sporting contest.

In November, Oman's South Africa Group will be taking on the rest of the Gulf's saffers for potjie supremacy.

The Meat Company, just opened in the Madinat Souk, is the first eatery in Dubai to serve mainstream South African grub (although, as the name suggests, it will not appeal to vegetarians).

Nando's is also South African in origin and inspired by the country's large Portuguese community. The South African burger chain Spur also plans to open two outlets in Dubai. The South African approach to tea and coffee can be experienced at Mugg and Bean.

Saffrican for a traffic light (a roundabout is a circle).

A standard conversational response that changes meaning entirely with context. It can be an expression of regret or pleasure.

Saffer surfers have two key destinations in Dubai. Jack Hirschberg, organiser of Dubai's Springbok bar, publishes a free weekly newsletter called Tokoloshe combining jokes, updates on local events and news stories from South Africa.

To subscribe go to (but, be warned, the humour can at times be earthy). Roger Wilkinson, a Zimbabwean who came to the UAE 12 years ago for a wedding and never went back, runs

This is a forum for meeting South Africans and a source of information about jobs and accommodation.