Going to extremes in the deserts of Dubai
Living in Dubai can have a strange effect on people - here, four Irish expats describe how it is a perfect place for indulging in extreme sports
Extreme is one word that could sum up Dubai. Extreme heat, wealth and the extreme culture clash.
Perhaps it is this atmosphere that has lead to a number of expats taking to heavy duty sports and endurance activities in a big way. Triathlons, ironman contests, and desert marathons are all popular here, and the Irish expat community is no exception.
31-year-old from Tipperary. Recently completed her first ironman contest, in Busselton, Western Australia, and raised $35,000 dollars for the Raye Foundation in Ethiopia
“I work for a relocation company in Dubai. I studied computer science in the University of Limerick but I left Ireland 12 years ago. I’ve lived and worked in Germany, South Korea and Australia and have been in Dubai now for the past five years.
“I was always an active person. In college I rowed and played camogie and Gaelic football. However, when I decided to take up triathlon in October 2011, I couldn’t swim the length of a pool, I had never rode a bike with clip-on shoes and had only done a couple of half-marathons.
“Dubai is one of those places where the expat social scene revolves around bars and clubs. It started off as a personal challenge to do something for myself and get fit. I knew it was going to get tough. Training in the summer involved going to bed at 6pm on weekends and getting up at midnight to cycle through the desert to avoid the extreme heat. You have no social life.
“The reality is there’s not a hope in hell I would have done something like this if I lived in Ireland. My attitude has changed in Dubai. I have always looked for challenges for myself in Ireland and elsewhere but there are so many more opportunities to do these kinds of things out here.
“The lifestyle here is different. We earn a lot more money than at home so I can afford to self-finance trips to Australia or wherever else. Triathlon is a very expensive sport. Between the bike and all the other gear you need, it adds up.
“There are plenty of 50-metre swimming pools and tracks to train on here. I don’t think I would have gotten to the level I’m at now in Dubai physically, mentally, or financially had I been competing at home.”
40-year-old from Limerick. He and Neil Munro completed the Polar Circle Marathon in the North Pole in October 2012 and raised $50,000 for the Christina Noble Foundation. He is the publishing director for ITP Publishing Group
“I’ve lived in Dubai for nearly 10 years with my wife and three kids. I have a fourth child due at the end of this month. Initially my wife and I came out here to try something different for a year or two, really liked the place, and we’re still here.