The government of Dubai published figures in 2016 stating that the local Emirati population sits at approximately 9%, while the rest is made up of expats. If you're one of them and are missing home, know that the feeling is common. While the odd down day is to be expected, there are things you can do to help you deal with the loneliness – here are six:
Allow time to reflect
Certain places can be associated with different stages of your life and feeling like you’re moving on or leaving these behind can be difficult and confusing. Reflect on why you may be feeling down – it might be because you miss a particular version of yourself, rather than what or who you’ve moved away from. Get outside, find new experiences and make memories; once you accept that this is the beginning of a new chapter, you’ll start to feel attached to your surroundings.
It’s fairly undisputed that exercising makes you feel good. Those helpful endorphins released during physical activity trigger a positive feeling in the body. It can be difficult to keep on the active track when moving to a new place – just see what our expert has to be say about the infamous Dubai stone – so try to stick to a healthy routine as much as possible. Find gyms, classes or running tracks that suit your tastes – when it’s too hot to go outside, Dubai World Trade Centre offers a handy sporting facility, equipped with a techno gym, basketball and tennis courts, football pitches and a running track.
Keep in touch
Getting used to a new place can be hectic, meaning it’s all too easy to trade catch-ups with family for Netflix (or naps). Planning weekly or monthly Skype sessions can help to combat feelings of loneliness and get you into a routine – speaking to friends and loved ones is bound to lift your mood, so set aside a time and stick to it.
There are plenty of groups in Dubai and the UAE to suit different personalities; perhaps you’re a new-to-Dubai mum, an extreme sports enthusiast or play a musical instrument? Joining clubs and Facebook groups will not only help you to socialise with people who are interested in similar things, but it will allow you to interact with individuals experiencing similar feelings of homesickness.
New to the job? The professional sphere can be daunting; socialising with colleagues might feel awkward at first, but try to accept invitations to bond outside of work. It’s important to meet as many people as possible – you may discover new hobbies and interests, even if you don’t keep in contact with everyone. Roughly half the number of expats interviewed in a study on the expatriate experience conducted by a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota, stated that having someone to talk to in their new company helped them transition into expat life, both professionally and personally.
Cook up some home comforts
A big bugbear about moving to a new country is the food you leave behind – don't let your favourite meals disappear from your diet. The UAE offers a delightful mix of culinary flavours and dishes with plenty of people willing to try out new cuisines. Try taking it in turns to host a foodie gathering, getting each friend to cook up a meal from their motherland; perhaps follow in the footsteps of these five UAE residents, who told us the recipes they miss most from home.
Are you new to Dubai and full of questions? We’re happy to help! #AskSpinneys on social media and a member of the team will get back to you.