‘I don’t want to sit on the beach all day’
The most daunting thing about Dubai was learning to drive on seven-lane roads
Amanda Gavin: “People are very respectful of women in business here and really take on board what I say”
Dubliner Amanda Gavin has been living in Dubai for the past 18 months and has re-established her PR consultancy AMG Consulting there, gaining new clients, working for the Irish Business Network there and writing for the Arab Irish Journal about Irish businesswomen.
Having worked as a pilot with Ryanair, Gavin’s husband was offered a contract with Emirates airline and the couple made the decision to move to Dubai.
Gavin, from Poppintree in north Dublin, felt the move to Dubai was no time to rest on her laurels. Three days after the couple’s arrival in the city, she approached the Irish Business Network and now works with them to promote her clients’ businesses but also works part-time for the network in the role of administrator and event organiser.
“I found that the Irish Business Network was like finding a business lifeline in the middle of nowhere,” says Gavin. “I had a really good business in Ireland and, when I got there it was a case of fight or flight, and they were like a lilo in the middle of the sea. Within a month I was at events and openings and had built up a network.”
Gavin was familiar with Dubai having visited the city a number of times and had a good network of friends there, which helped in terms of orientating the city and culture. The couple live in a gated community with many other ex-pats and Gavin says that driving was the most daunting task.
“Getting around was very daunting because the traffic is like something I have never seen before – there are seven lanes of traffic on some of the roads and people coming from all over the world with all sorts of driving techniques! I started by driving on Friday which is their holy day as there were fewer people on the roads but now I am zipping around!”
After the initial two-month settling-in period, Gavin was keen to relaunch her business but found herself in the middle of Ramadan.
“This is the holy time in which people fast. I was just getting used to the way of life and then everything changed! I was trying to get the business off the ground but no one wanted to do business. At that time, a lot of ex-pats leave too so I was arriving just when everyone was leaving,” she says. She also found the expression “Inshallah” a confusing one.
“In business people say this all the time,” says Gavin. “It means ‘God willing’ and everything in business in Dubai is ‘Inshallah’, meaning ‘don’t rush me, don’t move too quickly, if it’s meant to happen it will happen’. I was trying to get stuff moving and all I could hear was ‘Inshallah’! I just learnt to go with the flow.”