Irish website is like a ‘virtual living room’ for us in the UAE

AbuDhabiPaddy.com helps expats find jobs, network, and adjust to live in the Emirates

Thomas Dillon moved from Bundoran for a job in the United Arab Emirates.

Thomas Dillon moved from Bundoran for a job in the United Arab Emirates.

 

As someone trying to build a career in digital, my friends told me I was crazy to leave Ireland, which by 2014 was pretty well established as Europe’s technology hub. But when my girlfriend, Sophie took a teaching job in Abu Dhabi, my mind was made up.

Moving to the Gulf was an idea I had toyed with while studying for a Master’s in Public History and Cultural Heritage at Trinity College Dublin. At the time, the cultural sector was experiencing cut after cut and jobs were few and far between, so emigration was a strong possibility. After reskilling in technology and discovering a new passion for digital media, I left a breezy beautiful Bundoran behind me for the humid deserts plains of the United Arab Emirates.

Having studied history I touched on the topic of national identity on numerous occasions but always on a semi-academic level. But when you find yourself 8,000km from home, surrounded by a different landscape, people, religion and culture, where you’re from and who you are become quite intrinsically connected.

In Abu Dhabi, like any corner of the globe, Irish expats have created a strong sense of community, evident in the very active Irish Society, in the Na Fianna GAA Club (one of the largest GAA clubs in the Gulf), and in the popularity of our own online community at abudhabipaddy.com.

When I first arrived here I connected with the founder of the website, Brian Cummins, and expressed my interest in helping with the project. The website not only made the transition to the Gulf easier for me, but had also helped secure my employment via their jobs page. It’s a fantastic resource for the Irish community here.

Now as digital manager of the site, I feel like I’m playing an active part in the Abu Dhabi’s Irish community. It helps me touch base and stay connected with home when we blog and share content relating to Irish news and events.

New media has transformed the expat experience in recent years, making it a breeze to stay connected with friends and family at home in real time. Sites like ours also make it easier for expats to connect to and stay updated with their own community in the region.

A shared national identity creates bonds and a sense of belonging. For me, abudhabipaddy.com is continuous reminder of my Irishness. The site and our social media pages have become virtual “living rooms” with constant conversation and banter that help preserve a strong sense of community for Irish expats in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi Paddy will be hosting their annual How-To Sessions at McGettigans AUH this September 2nd and 16th. The free events aim to ease the process of settling in, focusing on things like setting up bank accounts, attesting and translating documents, and completing tenancy contracts. Register at abudhabipaddy.com