A Fresh Start – My tips for starting 2018 in the best way you possibly can

Hey Guys!

2018 is almost here, and I for one honestly can’t believe how fast 2017 has gone! For me, the beginning of a new year doesn’t usually mean a whole lot, because the start of my ‘new year’ is the start of the school year. But this year It’s going to be different! Usually, my school starts a couple of days after new years, so when that clock chimes 12, my heart starts racing with the stress of knowing that I have school in 2 days and that it’s a whole new year filled with tonnes of expectations and goals to achieve. But this year, I want to make the most of the fresh start that comes with the beginning of the new year.

Now, I’m someone that definitely feels the pressure of the new year. People seem to peg all sorts of expectations on one single day, saying that they will change things in their lives, and this whole year will be so much better. This stresses me out a bit, because what if I don’t start out my year the right way? Will that mean I’m going to have a terrible year? NO, it doesn’t mean that at all. The new year is a perfect way to start fresh and work on specific goals that you want to achieve this year, but it shouldn’t be a time for you to stress out and worry about if you’re good enough or not. This is why I created a list of tips to help you achieve your goals this year, I hope you enjoy!

Tip Number 1: Get yourself a planner I’ve always seen people hurrying to buy their new planner, but I didn’t fully understand why until this year. Planners are so useful! You want to start the new year out in an organized way, and a planner is a perfect place for you to keep track of all the information you need. You can write down any important dates, goals for the day, and even plan out a schedule to make sure you achieve all those goals. It’s also really useful because you’re able to look back at what you’ve done and achieved in the past year. In short, it just helps you keep track of all the important information so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Tip Number 2: Just be organized – This is the year you’re going to do it, you are going to start the year in an organized way! Honestly, if you start the year thinking this you’ll be able to keep it up, and trust me, nothing bad ever comes from being organized!

Tip Number 3: Celebrate the past year – Guys, you have just finished one awesome year, it’s time to celebrate everything that you’ve achieved! I sometimes think that people focus too much on what they’re going to do in the next year, rather than celebrating what they’ve already done. Take a little time to make a list of everything you’re proud of achieving in 2017, this will allow you to go into 2018 feeling good about yourself.

Tip Number 4: Learn from your past mistakes – If you truly want to change something this year, you have to learn from your past mistakes. Reflect on the past year and think about what went wrong, and where you could have changed that. Think about what you want to change, and make sure you don’t carry out the same mistakes in 2018, this will allow you to have a truly exceptional year.

Tip Number 5: Set yourself some goals – Goals can sometimes be scary, but it’s good to have some guidelines on what you want to achieve this year. They don’t necessarily have to be New Years Resolutions but think about what you want to change about yourself this year and create some goals for yourself. I’ve made a list of things I want to do this year, for example, stressing less, starting meditation and yoga, be more positive, and learn more about nutrition and health. What are your goals?

I hope that these tips help you jump into 2018 in a positive way and achieve all your goals this year! I hope that each and every one of you enjoys yourself this year and that you get to spend it with the people you love. Thank you sooo much for supporting my blog this year, it means the world to me, See you in 2018!

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for starting a new year (I would love to know!)

Happy New Year!

Little Miss Expat

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24 hours in Paris with a local – Winter Edition

Heya Guys!

I visited Paris a couple of days ago and it was AMAZING. I’ve been to Paris a few times before, but this time I think I can safely say I’ve fallen in love with the city!! From the sugar coma, I was in because of all the macarons, cakes, hot chocolates and pastries I ate,  to walking down small cobbled streets in St Germain, I loved every moment of it. One of the reasons the trip was so fun was because I got to spend time with a friend of mine that recently moved to Paris. (hence the ‘local’ part of this post) She showed me some of her favorite places to visit in Paris, and we got to chat and catch up over cups of hot chocolate and huge salads.

I wanted to share what I did and where I went with you guys in this post, but bear in mind that we didn’t visit many tourist spots, so if you’re going to Paris for the first time it might be wise to save another day to visit spots like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, and then you can try this ‘off the beaten track’ guide and visit the places I went to.

  1. Explore Paris on foot first – One of the first things I like to do when I visit a city is to take a walk and get a ‘feel’ for the place. You get to scout out some places you might want to visit later, and might come across some very cool sights. We walked down the Champs-Élysées and got to see a beautiful view of the Arc de Triomphe.DSC_0878
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    Isn’t this view of the Arc de Triomphe amazing?

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    We stumbled across this view of the Eiffel Tower covered in the morning mist.

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  2. Lunch at La Carette – I wanted to let my friend decide most of where we went because after all, she is the ‘local’ and she certainly picked out the perfect places. Out of all the times, I’ve visited Paris, I can’t believe I’d never eaten at Parisian Cafe until we went to La Carette. La Carette is exactly what a Parisian Cafe should be like, bursting with people and filled with pastries and macarons. It also has a magnificent view of the Eiffel Tower as soon as you step outside! I had a salmon salad (my attempt to be healthy) and we had a mille-feuille and a traditional French Christmas cake called Buche de Noel after, which were AMAZING (I’m drooling right now, just thinking about those desserts)
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    The salmon salad I ate

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    A box of macarons I brought back to London with me.

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    By far the best macarons I’ve ever eaten…

  3. Take touristy pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower – I mean… of course, you have to do this. My friend and I enjoyed a good few minutes trying to perfect the picture where it looks like you’re holding the Eiffel Tower (cringe, I know) But how can you go to Paris and not take embarrassing photos?img_5198.jpg
  4. Visit the St. Germain area – One of the things I really wanted to do on this trip, was to visit some smaller ’boutique style’ French shops because I think you can find nicer items in little local stores. I also had to buy a few Christmas gifts, so I wanted to see if there were more unique gifts I could buy in the boutiques. And, I was not disappointed! We visited the St. Germain area which was full of little-cobbled streets with small boutiques and shops. We saw some of the cutest shops in this area, as well as most of the big branded stores. For anyone who wants to do a bit of shopping in Paris, I would recommend St. Germain.IMG_5246IMG_5242 2IMG_5251IMG_5254
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    I absolutely loved this boutique, you can take a look at it here.

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    We came across this cute little florist

  5. Hot Chocolate at Cafe de Flore – You can’t come back from Paris without having a hot chocolate! There’s something about the French hot chocolate that’s so special, it’s super creamy and chocolatey and the atmosphere of a Parisian cafe adds to the whole effect. My friend said that Cafe de Flore was her favourite hot chocolate in Paris, so of course she took me to try it! It was soooo good. Wow. Parisian cafes are so simple in their layout and decorations, but it’s the food and people that make them so special. I think laughing and sharing stories over cups of hot chocolate had to be one of the best parts of the trip.IMG_5262IMG_5273 (1)IMG_5267

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    It tasted sooooooo good

Those are the highlights of my trip, and things that I that think you need to try if you’re visiting Paris soon. Honestly, I had such a great time in Paris and I got to experience the more unique side of the city which I loved! What’s your favourite city?

Little Miss Expat

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Decorating My Christmas Tree

Heya Guys!

Every year my family and I enjoy spending a festive day decorating our Christmas tree, and we take decorating pretty seriously. That being said this a really fun time for us, we wear Santa hats, put on our Christmas playlist and work on creating the most bedazzled tree you can find.

We usually get in a real tree and this year ours was 13 feet tall, which means a LOT of decorating to do. In our family, I’m in charge of ordering and choosing ornaments so when we open the box full of decorations I’m in my total design, creative mode. We’ve gathered lot’s of ornaments over the years, but last year when I started coming up with our ‘copper and blush’ theme we ordered a lot of them from Cox & Cox.  I think they have some really great ornaments, but if you’re looking for a place to buy tree decorations I’ve written about a few of my favourite places in my latest Christmas Preparation post, definitely have a look at them.

But enough about that here’s how our tree turned out this year!!!

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There’s something special about having a real Christmas tree

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The 13 ft tall wonder of a tree

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First comes the lights…

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I prefer to use warm coloured lights because I think it adds a more cozy vibe to our tree.

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A copper coloured ornament from Cox & Cox

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This ornament is made from folded paper, how cool is that?

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These are some of my favourite ones, they’re a sort of textured grey colour with bits of copper peeking through.

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These mirrored diamond ones create a nice effect as they reflect everything around them.

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This ornament has such a natural look, which makes it blend in so well with the tree.

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We collected this one from the Coca-Cola store in Orlando, isn’t the bear cute?

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You can kind of see how the theme goes together in this photo…

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Creds to my sister for posing for this photo 🙂

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The finished look!

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Little Miss Expat

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Christmas Preparation Guide – everything you could possibly need to do and how to do it

Heya guys!

Winter break has finally started for me, which means no more stressing about school (for a few days at least) and I can finally start my Christmas preparations! In my family even though we don’t celebrate Christmas religiously, we still go full out with the decorations, music, gifts, and food. I think it’s something about growing up in London, I don’t think you can live here and not be drawn into the Christmas Bonanza that’s London during the holiday season. There’s lights everywhere, a chilly breeze, Christmas music playing in every store, and everyone is bursting with happiness. It’s truly amazing.

Because I’m an organizational freak, and because there’s a lot to prepare for Christmas I decided to write a small guide on how I get all my Christmas bits and bobs sorted, and where I like to buy my gifts and decor etc…

What Music To Play:

Would it really be Christmas without the sound of sleigh bells and cheesy Christmas songs? I don’t think so. I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m guilty of listening to my Christmas playlist all year round. I know, I have no self-control when it comes to Christmas songs, but they always put me in a good mood and make me want to dance along to them. Am I the only one? Here are some of my favourite songs that I think you HAVE to have on your Christmas playlist:

  1. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
  2. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid
  3. Mistletoe – Justin Bieber
  4. Santa’s Coming For Us – Sia
  5. Last Christmas – Wham
  6. Mary’s Boy Child / Oh My Lord – Boney M.
  7. Baby It’s Cold Outside – Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé
  8. This Christmas – Chris Brown
  9. Step Into Christmas – Elton John
  10. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Andy Williams
  11. I’ll Be Home – Meghan Trainor
  12. Sleigh Ride – Carpenters
  13. It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
  14. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Michael Bublé
  15. Holly Jolly Christmas – Michael Bublé
  16. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Frank Sinatra
  17. Santa Tell Me – Ariana Grande
  18. Driving Home For Christmas – Gavin James
  19. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
  20. Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin’ Stevens

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What Decorations To Use

Decorations have to be one of the most important aspects of Christmas for me. I love designing and putting together cute displays, so I am totally in my element with Christmas Decor. Excluding the Christmas Tree (which I’ll write about separately) I think that decorating your Christmas dining table is very important. After all, this is where you spend a lot of Christmas Day and you want it to look nice. I like to get small items to put on the table, as well as to put out if we’re having people around for snacks. I’ve been collecting little bits and bobs for the table for a while now and here’s what I’ve got:

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Also, you can’t go wrong with lights, the more the merrier! We put them up everywhere and I think it adds to the whole festive atmosphere. Here are some pictures of how I decorated our Christmas Table last year:

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Finding Some Christmas Inspiration

I love to spend my time browsing Pinterest and looking at Christmas tree inspiration and ways that people have decorated their houses for Christmas. I also look at some of my favourite blogs and see what they’re doing for Christmas. I love a cozy evening spent with a mug of hot chocolate and a fuzzy blanket spent ‘researching’ ideas for Christmas. Am I the only one that loves looking for new ideas and could spend ages browsing on their laptop?

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Gift Ideas

I looove buying gifts for other people, as well as creating my own wish list. I’m a big believer in giving thoughtful gifts to others. While receiving a box of chocolates or a bar of soap is nice, I think that Christmas gifs should be a little more exciting and personal. If I’m not really sure what I want I want to get someone for Christmas I like to browse some of my favourite shops for gifts. A few good places to look for presents are:

  1. Anthropologie
  2. Oliver Bonas
  3. Notonthehighstreet
  4. Urban Outfitters (gift section)
  5. ASOS (gift section)

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Making The Perfect Tree

Of course, your Christmas tree is one of the most important parts of the holiday! When we’re in Dubai we have a fake tree with decorations that we use every year because we never spend actual Christmas Day there. When we come to London our Christmas tree is a much more fancy event. We usually get a real tree, and it’s HUGE. When I say huge I really mean it, we keep it in our library which is two floors high, and our Christmas tree reaches the ceiling, so you can tell it’s big. I’m all for having a festive and ‘family’ tree but I don’t really like tacky decorations so my family usually lets me decide the theme of the tree and look for decorations. As I said, I look on Pinterest for my inspiration and themes. Once I come up with a theme, I usually take a look at a few websites and what they have for their Christmas decorations. A few of my favourite places to look at decorations are:

  1. John Lewis
  2. M&S
  3. Next
  4. Fortnum and Masons
  5. Crate & Barrel
  6. Cox & Cox (I got almost all my tree decorations from here)
  7. The White Company

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I hope this Christmas guide is helpful for you guys and your Christmas prep! Please let me know if you like any of my tips and tell me what you do to prepare for Christmas, and where you buy your gifts and decorations from!

Little Miss Expat

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My First Blogger Award – The Liebster Award

Hey Guys!

Last week I received some really exciting news… I was nominated for a Liebster award!!! This is my first ever award as a blogger and I’m super excited because it means that you guys are actually enjoying my content, which is a huge deal to me.

What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster award is an award given to ‘new-ish’ bloggers by other bloggers to recognize them and welcome them to the blogging community. In essence, it’s like a blogger chain of awards where we get to spread our love and appreciation!

A HUGE thank you to Americanized Isa

I was nominated for this award by Americanized Isa, she’s an expat Au Pair living in New Jersey and her story is quite remarkable. Her blog posts are filled with positivity and useful tips for any traveler or expat. Go give her blog a look!

11 Random Questions

As part of the Liebster award, the nominee must answer 11 random questions given by the person that nominated them. Here are the questions Isa gave me, and my answers to them.

  1. Why did you start blogging? Well, my dream to start a blog began after my first year living in Dubai. Having such a rough first year I realized that I had learned a lot and I wanted to share some of my ‘wisdom’ with others. Also, living in Dubai, there are new expats coming in every year, experiencing the same things I did and I wanted to help them. I’d had this idea for a couple of years, but I was too scared to start my own blog. I didn’t know anything about blogging? And what if people hated my site? Finally this summer I thought WHATEVER. If people don’t like my site, then they don’t have to read it. But if I can just help one person by sharing my experiences with them, then it’s all worth it 🙂
  2. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen and why do you like it so much? It’s really hard to choose, but I think I’d have to say Iceland. I visited Iceland a couple of weeks ago and I was in awe. The endless hills of snow, and just the fact that all of Iceland’s beauty and features are natural had me hooked. It’s also just a very peaceful and cute place to visit, I would totally recommend it.
  3. What’s your favourite sport? I would definitely have to say running. You name it, Cross country running, or even running long distance for fun, I love it either way. If you follow my Instagram (@Little.Miss. Expat) you’ll know that I talk about running a lot (I’m kind of obsessed). I mean yes, it’s hard and sometimes you just don’t feel like doing it, but in the end, it’s totally worth it.
  4. If someone gave you 1 million dollars, what would you do? I know this sounds so cliché, but I would use it to help others. I definitely don’t need 1 million dollars for myself, and there are others that desperately need it. I would use the money to physically go out to a place in need and help them, whether it’s with education and building schools, or helping hospitals buy supplies, I know that it would have something to do with helping people.
  5. How much time do you spend blogging each week? Good question Isa! Well, it really depends on what my post of the week is. For those of you who don’t know I post on my blog every weekend, and I try and post on my Instagram every day. My Instagram posts take about 15 minutes to plan, write captions and hashtags, and edit photos each day. And my blog posts take me about an hour to write, but it really does vary. If it’s a very picture heavy post it will take me a lot longer to shoot pictures and edit them. But, I can say blogging is very time-consuming. I love it, but it takes time, I think I spend around 4 hours each week solely working on my blog.
  6. Are you a cat or a dog person? Definitely a dog person, not that I don’t like cats, but I would love to have a dog to cuddle with and to run with!
  7. What’s your favourite movie of all time? I would have to say, Mama Mia! I don’t know why, but every time I watch this movie it puts me in such a good mood, I know all the songs off-by-heart and sing along to them with my friends.
  8. If you could meet one famous person who would it be and why? I think it would be Tata Harper, she’s a women entrepreneur and I respect her a lot. I use all her beauty products as I’m a huge believer in natural beauty. I think the reason I would love to meet her is that she’s such a role model in my life, and even though it’s cheesy, I do want to be like her when I’m older.
  9. What do you think your life will look like after you retire? Ohh, I haven’t even started to think about that yet. It would probably include lots of reading, and traveling if I can handle it, and definitely, lots of time spent with my family.
  10. What do you think when you see a spider? It’s funny because I don’t actually scream out loud, I kind of do a scared jump and quickly yell for one of my sisters or my mum to come quick and help me take it outside.
  11. What’s your next big thing? Well… I’ve been dreaming of doing my own Ted Talk later in 2018 where I can talk about being an expat, my blog, and just share my whole story with others. But, there are lots of things I have to take into account before I do this, one being I first have to audition to be part of the Ted event! But I have my heart set on it and I’m so excited!

If you get nominated what do you do? (a few universal rules)

  1. You can display this award in the sidebar of your blog and on social media.
  2. Thank the person that nominated you and link back to their blog.
  3. Respond to the 11 questions you were assigned to in a blog post.
  4. Nominate around 5-11 blogs that you want to pass the award onto.
  5. Create your 11 random questions.
  6. Let your nominees know, and provide them with a link to your blog post.

Who Am I Nominating?

Well, this is exciting!!!

  1. The Maple Brit – Well how could I nominate blogs, and not mention Kates blog?! As a British expat living in Canada, she shares a lot of advice with us about moving, as well as her expert travel guides. I personally love reading her blog, because you know us expats have to support each other! And she’s just super sweet, always letting me know if she likes my posts, and replying to my comments on hers. Good Job Kate!
  2. Jessica Rose Blogs – I would have to mention this blog because I just love her ‘blogmas’ series, lots of ‘Christmassy’ posts it’s so cute! Check out her blog for general lifestyle tips as well as her festive specials. Well done!
  3. The Expatic Life  – Ashley’s blog is full of expat tips and travels! She’s American but currently living in Abu Dhabi, well done Ashley!
  4. Teen Runner Blog – Ellens blog has been one of my favourites even before I started my own blog. I love reading about her running and what she does to fuel, hydrate, and train. She has A LOT of useful posts, and even has her own running community that you can join! Well done Ellen!
  5. The Expater – Nina’s blog is full of resources and tips for any traveler or expat. She has expat essentials, personal stories, and even local guides for anyplace you might be traveling to. Well done Nina!

My 11 Questions for my nominees:

  1. Why did you start blogging? (sorry, Isa I had to re-use this question!)
  2. What’s your idea of a ‘perfect day’?
  3. If you could work with one brand, which one would it be?
  4. What’s something interesting that people might not know about you?
  5. Do you remember who your first follower on either your Instagram or blog was?
  6. What is your favourite post you’ve ever published?
  7. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  8. Who’s your role model?
  9. What’s your favourite thing about blogging?
  10. What’s your favourite book?
  11. Are you working on anything special for your blog?

Thank you so much for reading this VERY long post! I’m so happy that each of you is here to experience this with me, and I want to say thank you for being such great followers and readers, you mean the world to me! Well done to the nominees and have fun with the award!

Little Miss Expat

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About The UAE – UAE National Day!

Hey Guys,

Today is UAE National Day! Exactly 46 years ago the United Arab Emirates was founded. As I live in Dubai, which is part of the UAE I thought that I would take some time today to share some facts about the UAE with you, for those of you who don’t know it that well.

When I first moved to Dubai I was pleasantly surprised with all the festivities that surrounded UAE National Day. Living in London, we never had a national day. We had a few bank holidays, but there isn’t a specific day where we celebrate our country. I think it’s amazing how the whole country comes together to celebrate this day, and I can tell you from what I see in Dubai, they certainly celebrate it well!!

  1. The UAE is made up of 7 Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Sharjah, Dubai, Fujairah,  Ras Al Khaimah, and Umm Al Quwain.
  2. We usually get a day off school and work for UAE National Day 🙂
  3. The Dubai police have a Lamborghini, Ferarri, and a Bentley (SO COOL!)
  4. Only 13% of the population of the UAE is actually Arab! Lot’s of expats 😉
  5. Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World is home to the worlds fastest roller coaster, which travels at 150 mph. (I was too scared to try it when I visited)
  6.  25% of the worlds working cranes are in Dubai. What can I say? Dubai is a fast growing city!
  7. The hottest it’s ever been in the UAE was 52.1 degrees Celsius in July 2002. Yes, summers here are REALLY hot.
  8. The UAE used to rely heavily on pearl trading, we even have a museum to learn about this in Dubai.
  9. In 2020 Expo is going to be held in Dubai (the same year I graduate from high school!!)
  10. It only rains approximately 5 days in a year in Dubai! (trust me, we get really excited when it does rain)

I hope you found these facts interesting and you learned a bit more about the UAE and where I live. Happy Birthday to the UAE!

Little Miss Expat

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