Expat friends stock-take

I’ve made a new friend since getting back to Dubai. She actually popped up on my ‘friend radar’ before the summer, but busy schedules got in the way.

When I returned, our paths crossed and, one party and two playdates later, I’m pretty sure she’s a keeper – in expat terms, that is.

As we sipped on cappuccinos yesterday afternoon at the playarea, on the fringes of a group of women from Dubai Mums, we found ourselves discussing the errant, sometimes tenuous nature of expat friendships.

“In nine years, I’ve seen a lot of friends come and go,” she told me, with a look that said, “They nearly all leave in the end – the lot of them.”

I nodded. It’s what many women find here. Not nearly as much as some expat postings, where it can be so transient the children automatically assume their playmates have moved on if they’re off sick from school. But even so – despite the fact Dubai, with its non-stop sunshine, maid culture, champagne brunches and five-star resorts, is hardly a ‘hardship posting’ – there’s still a steady turnover of friends and you do have to stay on the look out for new ones.

Especially as friendships, it seems, are forged in some unexpected places when you find yourself living overseas, with children and a DH who travels. A lot.

With an influx of new families in the UAE in situ for the new school term, mums are exchanging confidences and phone numbers

Here’s how I found my inner circle (and why I love them!):

B: Lived opposite us in our first compound. Kindred spirits, we shared a fear of driving in Dubai, though really she’s an ace behind the wheel (American).

L1: Chatted while sitting next to each other at the doctor’s surgery. I was really forward and pounced on her (actually on her husband, if I’m honest, as by the time I’d plucked up courage, she’d been called in to see the doctor) and got her phone number. She moved to Dubai from Hong Kong and also has two boys, same ages (British).

K: A talented writing buddy (blogs at sandboxmoxie.com) who I knew I’d be great friends with. Just knew. Even if a year passed before we bumped into each other again (American).

M: Just happened to be sitting near each other in the park one weekend. With a high-flying, full-time job in education, she was looking for mum friends and so we swapped numbers. Now I see her most weekends (Canadian).

L2: A neighbour and another clever writing friend who also happens to be one of the funniest women on the planet, especially when drinking gin on a Friday (British).

C: Met at an ExpatWoman playgroup and bonded over Black Forest gateau in Ikea. Now lives in Abu Dhabi. Uber-stylish and owns the most fabulous shoes (British)

If you’re new in Dubai, welcome! We’re a friendly bunch, I promise!