Being The New Kid – How to deal with moving

Hi Guys,

When I first started this blog my mission was to support as many expats as possible with their moves, and give them some guidance and support to get them through this huge event in their lives. Only a couple of days ago when I was talking to a friend of mine who recently moved from Dubai to Paris, did I realise that I hadn’t addressed a very important subject that related to moving and being an expat. And that is how to make new friends, and deal with just being the ‘new girl/boy’.

Even for people who haven’t moved home from one country to another, we’ve all experienced being the ‘new kid’ at some point in our lives. And let’s be honest, for most of us, it was not fun. Being an expat, adding on top of being a new kid, you’re having to come to terms with a new home, a new city, and knowing no one in this new place. It’s pretty bewildering. I remember before I moved from London to Dubai I had never experienced being a new kid, and my first school here certainly did not make it easy to settle in. People ignored the new kids, made no effort to get to know them, and I was just completely lost and lonely. Over the course of the year, I made friends and learned my way around, but I would never want to re-live those first days of school.

And I realise that everyone stories may not be as bad as mine, or they may be even worse, but there’s still some advice that I can hopefully share with you. The first piece being, don’t forget who you are. I know this is the cheesy quote you always hear in different variations such as, ‘be true to yourself’ ‘be who you want to be’ but there’s a reason it’s so famous. These are truly words to follow. Moving is tough, I know it is. And sometimes all you want to do is fit in and seem normal. Sometimes that means letting your guard down and doing things you usually wouldn’t, or doing something completely against your morals just to fit in. But DON’T. Trust me on this, you don’t need to change who you are for anyone, or to fit in with anyone. And if you’re changing yourself then you’re probably not with the right crowd.

I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and through experience, staying true to myself and my morals has been the best decision I could have made. In the end, life will lead you in the right path. Make the decisions that you believe in, and everything else will work itself out. Another thing to keep in mind is that settling in takes time. You can’t just move and wake up the next morning expecting to feel like you’re at home. It takes time to get used to your new surroundings, but also for people to get to know you. When I was talking to my friend I remember saying that my second year, coming back after summer break felt amazing not to be new, and to see people I was friendly within the halls which just made me feel like I belonged there, that’s only something that comes with time and patience.

When moving it’s also important to remember that people don’t define you, don’t worry too much about what people think. It’s practically impossible to make everyone in the world happy, and you’re better off just being yourself. Even though we shouldn’t do it, everyone is still guilty of making judgments without really knowing all the information. When you meet someone new, most people jump to conclusions before they even speak to them. First judgments don’t usually last, and if there’s someone who really has a problem with you, remember, there’s probably something they’re upset about, if they need to find something wrong with you.  (I wrote about it a lot in this post)

Overall, I know moving can be really hard, especially with fitting in at a new school or workplace. Just remember it takes time, but you should just be true to yourself, and not worry about what others think. In the end, your life is for you to live, not for other people to determine. In the wise words of Bob Marley ‘Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright’. I really hoped that this managed to help some of you who have recently moved, and please share your thoughts in the comment section for others to also read! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any more questions 🙂

See you next week,

Little Miss Expat 

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Finding Happiness

Hey Everyone!

I’ve been wanting to write a post about happiness and wellbeing for such a long time, and with it being International Happiness week, I thought, what better time? Even though I have so much I want to share with you guys about this subject, I think this has to be one of the hardest posts I’ve written, as it’s so hard to put all my ideas about happiness into words!!

Originally I wanted to share a few tips on ‘how to be happy’ with you guys, but I realised that wasn’t the right way to put it, there’s no specific formula to be happy. We’re all human, we have some happy days and some sad days. So today instead of writing a guide for you guys, I just want to share a few thoughts, and I would really love for you to comment your thoughts as well!

For those of you who don’t know my story, the reason why I started this blog was to share my experiences as a teenage expatriate with others and tell the story of moving from London to Dubai, and how I dealt with it. One thing that goes hand-in-hand with this story is my experience with ‘happiness’. The first year of moving was a tough year for me, and I had never experienced so many feelings of sadness and loneliness at one time. However, through this journey, I’ve come to be at a place where I feel such balance, content, and happiness all the time, that I don’t think I could be anywhere better.

I remember having some days where I would feel sick with sadness, and where I was just totally unmotivated to do anything. And you know, I think most people go through a phase like this. At least one point in your life, you experience a sort of rut, where you just can’t seem to break through this wall. And especially for someone picking up and leaving their home at such a young age, it’s not unheard of to feel this way.

But the question is how do you overcome these feelings, and find your happiness? I could answer this question a thousand different ways, but I’ll just limit it to a few for now. (Bearing in mind, that these are all ideas that I have found through my own experiences.) The first thing that I would say is the key to unlocking happiness is being comfortable with yourself. Truly finding that sense of being, enjoyment, and content is the first step to becoming happier. In this world where we seem to think the number of likes you get on a photo determines how popular you are, and where your follower count is a representation of how many friends you have, it can get really hard to just… love yourself. Think about it this way, if you constantly think you’re not good enough, how can you ever be happy with yourself?

I think this is also something that comes with experience, because I know that when I was younger I would always ‘follow the crowd’ and I would do what everyone was doing, regardless of whether or not I wanted to do it myself. But how can you ever be happy if you’re not doing what you want to be doing? Becoming confident with your own decisions and standing up for what you believe in, is something that only comes with practice. It doesn’t come overnight, but I’m telling you, once you start following YOUR own ideas, doing what YOU want to do, and not constantly worrying about what people think of YOU, you’re well on your way to finding happiness.

Something that goes along with this idea of just being you, is also not worrying about what others are doing. Trust me, I’m a teenage girl in high school, and I could be influenced by a multitude of people and their actions, but staying true to my own values has to be the best decision I could have ever made. It’s come to the point where I don’t feel jealousy when I see what other people are doing if it’s not something I would genuinely want to be doing myself. I don’t see any point changing my own values and beliefs just because of others. This has to be one of the hardest things to put into action, the number of people my age who are peer pressured into making decisions that they wouldn’t make for themselves is something that I think should change. But once you stop caring about what everyone else is doing and start doing things you love, you will find yourself instantly happier.

Something else that I think is worth mentioning, is forgiveness. Even though I myself find this very hard, one huge part of finding happiness is forgiving people and not holding grudges. The fact that you’re spending some of your brainpower worrying or thinking about someone who has wronged you just gives them power over you. In life, there will always be people that upset you, but I think being able to overcome that and forgive them is one of the most important life lessons you can learn.

Going off on the people tangent, finding a group of people that support and care for you, will also affect your happiness. Surrounding yourself with people who know the real you, and are always there for you, is one of the best things you can do. Friends should be happy for you when you achieve something, but also able to cheer you up when you’re feeling upset. Honestly, your vibe does attract your tribe, finding people who share the same values as you, and who constantly brighten up your day, can change everything.

The last thing I want to mention is gratitude. Being thankful for what you have is probably the most important component of happiness. Something as simple as acknowledging what you’re thankful for can make the biggest difference. Realizing what you have, compared to others allows you to see a different perspective, and truly be happy with yourself.

I thoroughly enjoyed being able to share some of these thoughts with you guys! There are so many articles and resources on happiness out there that you can take a look at if you’re interested, I would really recommend it! I would absolutely love to hear your ideas and what you think about this post in the comments!!!

Have a happy week!

Little Miss Expat

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The perfect study spot – Wild & The Moon Dubai

Hey Guys!

I have been super busy recently, and I am really excited for Spring Break! I have a tonne of really exciting and helpful posts planned for you guys, that I hope you’ll enjoy. Something else that I’ll also be doing during Spring Break is preparing for my AP exam, if you don’t know what that is, it’s the big examinations that all students in the American curriculum take if you’re in an Advanced Placement course. I’m really nervous for this exam, as I have a lot of content to study, but I’ll take you guys on that journey with me and give you guys some of my tips about studying for a big exam.

However, something that I’ve really been practicing recently is taking breaks. Usually, I like to get everything done early on the weekends, and I don’t get to spend time doing things I like and just giving myself some time to chill out. I talked about this a bit in my ‘February In Review’ post, but one thing that I’ve been doing to give myself more relaxation time is to schedule in breaks. Now… I LOVE food, I’m always up to try a new cafe or restaurant, and any place that makes a decent matcha latte is practically heaven for me. And I love being able to bring my laptop along so I can get a bit of work done while I wait for my food. Not in an unsociable way, but sometimes you just have a lot to get done! I have been looking for the perfect ‘study cafe’ for a long time, and I think Wild & The Moon wins.

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It literally has the cutest interior and gives off calm and relaxed vibes. I love being surrounded by plants and greenery, so as you can imagine this cafe is my dream. It’s very peaceful and simplistic, but there are lots of plants dotted around the place. It’s the perfect place to bring your laptop and get a change of scenery while you’re studying and have a delicious drink.

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If you know me at all, you know I love supporting ethical and environmentally friendly companies, and Wild & The Moon is perfect. It’s full of organic and plant-based foods, made from simple and fresh ingredients. I love this line from their philosophy “We need nourishment to grow, blossom, seed and spread…” Isn’t it just beautiful? It’s honestly my new favourite spot in Dubai, and I’ll definitely be back during Spring Break while I’m studying for my big exam. I really want to try some of their cool juices and smoothies next time I’m there, and I’ll let you know how they are.

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Let me know if you try this cafe and what you think!

See you next week for a super exciting post,

Little Miss Expat

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Morning Adventures in Dubai – Hidden Gems of Dubai

Hey Everyone!

Yesterday I fought off the tiredness and woke up bright and early at 6am for a special adventure! My parents and I had originally just planned to go out for a quick breakfast, but we ended up going on a spontaneous adventure.

Mornings are my favourite time of day, I like being up before the rest of the city, and enjoying the peace. I also think you can achieve so much more when you start the day early, this whole adventure was over by 12, so I still had plenty of time to finish all my homework 🙂 This small guide will take you on our Dubai Morning Adventure, and hopefully inspire you to wake up early and explore your own city!

In my opinion, Fridays are the most peaceful day in Dubai. It’s like the whole city is asleep, so if you wake up early you’ll be sure to find some surprises. One of my favourite ways to spend the weekend is going to a market, even if I don’t buy anything, I just love the whole atmosphere, and the little stores you can find. We have a few markets open on Friday mornings in Dubai, but this weekend I visited a smaller farmers market in Business Bay, and I’d have to say it’s my favourite market in Dubai.

There is so much fresh produce in this market, I think it’s the best place to get fresh and organic ingredients. I also love the sandwich stand that Baker and Spice sets up, their breakfast sandwiches are AMAZING.

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Next up on the adventure, we stopped to grab a cup of Karak chai in the Al Satwa area (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, I wrote a whole post about Karak chai in Dubai here) And we decided to drive out into the desert.

The desert never fails to astound me, while other countries and cities have their own natural wonders, the desert is definitely Dubai’s wonder. We drove out, down the desert roads, searching for the Al Qudra Lakes. After stopping at a man-made oasis we made it to the lakes, and it was breathtaking.

There’s something about being out in the desert so early, it is utterly peaceful, and you just feel so at ease with the world. Here’s what it looked like:

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They built these observation decks that you can climb up.

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After enjoying the lakes and oasis, we spotted some camels on our way home! I know, only things you would see in Dubai. How cool do they look?

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And that wraps up our morning adventure in Dubai. I love living in a city where there’s always something going on, and something to do. Hopefully, I can drag myself out of bed early enough next weekend for another adventure. Please let me know if you liked this post? And what you do to explore your own city!

See you next week,

Little Miss Expat

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January In Review – What I’ve been loving, doing, and my favourites!

Hi Everyone!

I can’t believe that January is already over, that went really quickly! This month has been a very busy one, with new years resolutions, starting school again, the end of one semester, and being well into the Cross Country Season. In this post, I’m going to share with you what products I’ve been using a lot this month, and what I’m loving. And I’ll also share what’s been going on in my life, and what’s coming in February. I hope you enjoy!

What Have I Been Loving?

Over the Winter Break, I made a conscious effort to start using more natural products on my skin, as I have really sensitive skin and I see a lot of benefits when I simplify what I use on my skin and use natural products. I already use natural make-up and cleansers (I wrote about them in this post if you’re interested) but I picked out a natural body wash and toothpaste, and I’ve been absolutely loving them!

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I wanted to make the change to a natural toothpaste because I realized how silly I was being, I care so much about what I eat and if it’s good for me, yet I was putting chemicals and artificial flavours into my mouth twice a day without really registering it. I was worried that this toothpaste would taste weird, but I’ve actually really been enjoying it and it doesn’t taste too bad.

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I also wanted to simplify the kind of body wash I use on my skin, and I’ve been noticing really good things since I started using this one. I usually get very dry skin during the winter, but this soap doesn’t seem to dry out my skin as much. And it smells amazing!! I did buy a natural shampoo and conditioner (from a different brand), but it was making my hair dry and coarse, does anyone have any recommendations?

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I started using a toner on my face and it’s been helping my skin a lot. It acts as an extra cleanse, and it helps reduce your pore size before you put on any makeup or moisturizer, which makes sure less bacteria gets into your skin. I still don’t have completely clear skin, but I have been noticing a huge difference since I started using a toner. I got this one from Clarins, and it’s the special one for sensitive skin, but they have lots of different options for different skin types. Do any of you use a toner, and if so do you see a difference?

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Another thing that I’ve been using a lot this month is my sleep mask and spray. I had never worn a sleep mask before this year because I always thought they were such a hassle, and I didn’t understand why someone would wear one in their own house? But let me tell you if you have a struggle falling asleep you need to invest in one of these. I’m a really sensitive sleeper, so once I see some light shining through my curtains, I’m immediately awake. During the week that’s okay because when I wake up, the sun isn’t really up yet. But on the weekends it’s very annoying because I can hardly ever sleep in past 7am because I find it too sunny. This sleep mask has been a lifesaver! Not only has it been allowing me to sleep for longer, but also I fall asleep much quicker now because once I put on my mask, my body knows that it’s time to fall asleep. I also got a new sleep spray over the break, which is meant to calm and relax you before you turn off the lights and go to sleep. I’ve been using a spray for a few years now, and I really recommend them, they create a nice environment and help you fall asleep more easily.

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One of my new years resolutions was to stress less and to start practicing meditation. And I’m proud to say that I have been sticking to the meditation part! No matter how stressed I’ve been getting during the day, before I go to bed, I make sure that I do a little bit of meditation so that I can relax and unwind. Insight Timer is a free app, and I have to say it’s my favourite meditation app out of all the ones I’ve tried. It’s kind of like a meditation Spotify, you can browse through hundreds of guided meditations for different amounts of time, and for specific things such as stress, or compassion, and pick which one you like. You can also freely meditate with a timer for as long as you want. I know meditation doesn’t sound like the coolest way to be spending your evening, but it really only takes 5 minutes, and it’s really helpful to me.

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Another really big part of my year so far has been my planner. I know I’m a nerd. But I love being organized! I make endless lists, plan out every hour of my day, and every day of my week. Before I got my planner, I did this on sticky notes and it was a bit annoying because I didn’t have them all in one place, and I didn’t have enough space to make notes. So I did a LOT of research to find the PERFECT PLANNER, one with a monthly view, and a page for each day where you can plan out your day by the hour, as well as a daily quote, and a place to write your daily goals and gratitude. I have literally been living through my planner, and it’s been taking a lot of stress off me because I don’t have to remember everything anymore. I got my planner from The Day Designer and I can not tell you how much I love it! Be sure to look at theirs if you need one for 2018.

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Lastly, because, of course, I need to include a little bit of food in this post. My favourite snack this month has been dates. I know, kind of random right? But in Dubai, we have dates everywhere, and they’re a really nice small sweet snack. I’ve been loving having them because they’re also really good for you, and I’ve been seeing great improvements in my digestion. I usually need something sweet after I eat dinner, and instead of eating a chocolate, eating a date is so much healthier!

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What Else Has Happened This Month?

Running:

If you’re one of my regular readers, you will know that at the beginning of this month I found out I had a stress injury. If you want to know more about this, I wrote a whole blog post explaining my injury in detail, you can find it here. But I’m not going to lie, that really put me off track for the start of the new year. I really love running, and not being able to run made me really sad and upset. I was also scared that all my hard work training would just go down the drain because I had to take so much time off. I was a miserable blob for a good few weeks, and I felt so useless and sorry for myself. But it taught me that in life you just have to accept that sometimes there are things that are out of your control. There was nothing I could do to be able to run, all I could do was work on recovering quickly.

One of my friends also told me something that really helped me stop feeling sorry for myself. Some of my best friends are on the Cross Country team with me, and we all support each other with whatever we’re going through. And my friend who has been injured for a while told me that it’s okay to feel sorry for yourself, but after a while, you have to stop because it just makes it worse. You can have one day to cry and feel bad about whatever is going on, but after that, you need to accept that there’s nothing you can do, and you need to be strong again. And that has really helped me this month , because if I didn’t stop thinking about it, it would have taken over my whole month.

I’ve been working hard ever since I was allowed to run again, and I was selected for the MESAC competition (Middle East, South Asia, Conference), basically a big Cross Country competition. And wow am I nervous! I am so happy and grateful that I was selected, but it’s next weekend and I’m starting to get very nervous. This year I’ve been pretty good at not letting my nerves take over before Cross Country competitions, but this is the biggest one I’ve ever had to compete in, and I’m already feeling nervous. Does anyone have any tips on how to deal with nerves? And how to fuel up before a big race? I would love to hear them!

Semester 1 of School Is Over!

In other news, I’ve officially finished Semester 1 of my Sophomore year, and wow was that intense! Ever since I came back from Winter Break, it has been GO GO GO! With so many things happening, it was kind of overwhelming and challenging, but I’ve had this long weekend to relax and prepare for the next semester. I wrote a long post about it on my Instagram (@Little.Miss.Expat) yesterday, so take a look at that if you’re interested.

60 Followers On The Blog!

This month I hit 60 followers on my blog which is crazy!! I’m so grateful for each and every one of you that reads my posts and supports me. It’s amazing to think that I started this all from scratch almost 7 months ago, and it’s come this far. I love writing for you guys, and I hope you enjoy my content! I’m almost at 300 followers on my Instagram too, so hopefully when you read my February in Review post, I’ll be celebrating 300 Instagram followers!

And that wraps up my January in Review blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading about what I’ve been using, and what’s been going on with me. Did you like this post? And do you want to see monthly posts like this one? Please let me know!

See you soon!

Little Miss Expat

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Conquering Homesickness

Hey everyone!

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, but I’ve found it a bit hard to word all my thoughts and write them down here, as there’s so much I want to talk about. I haven’t written an ‘expat life’ post for a while, as there’s just been so much holiday content recently, but today I want to talk about something very important, homesickness.

For me, winter break usually means going back to England and spending time with my family and friends. This year my time in England went by so fast, and before I knew it, it was time to pack up and head back to Dubai. Usually, I find myself a little teary on days we head back to Dubai because as much as I love my life here, it’s always hard to leave England. I think that anyone who lives away from home, or who has family that lives far away can probably relate to this. Leaving your family behind can sometimes feel like you’re leaving a little part of yourself behind. I sometimes feel like I’m torn between the two places because Dubai is my ‘home’ now, but England seems to natural and safe to me.

When I go back to England it seems weird to head down the roads that used to take me to school every morning, to pass the hall where my brownie camp was, or to see the coffee shop where I used to sip on hot chocolate. It’s almost like looking back at a part of your life without recognizing it. What I mean by this, is that these things that used to be so natural for me, seem so far away now, I can hardly remember doing them anymore.

When we go back to England for the holidays these are the things that I always look forward to, seeing the places I missed and that I have memories in. But it’s always a shock to find that things are never the same as they used to be. One of the hardest things to come to terms is the fact that your ‘old life’ moves on while you’re living your ‘new life’. People move on and keep evolving. It’s easy to let this make you feel upset, I’m guilty of it sometimes as well. But this ideology of going back to the ‘safe place’ that we think will be the same as how we left it is merely a mind game that we have to overcome. What do I mean by a mind game?

Think about it this way; for most of us when we’re having a really bad day or feeling a little down, this is when our homesickness kicks in, and we wish we could be back in that ‘safe place’, that place where you’re surrounded by family, and where times seemed simpler. But it’s a mind game, from experience I know that when I’m upset I crave something natural to me, a place where I have good memories. This usually ends up being where I used to live in England because it’s where I grew up, and where I remember being a carefee10-year-old and not worrying about anything. But the reality is, that if I was in the same place again at this age, I would still be going through the same things that I am right now. The trick to conquering and overcoming homesickness is to re-programme your happy place or safe place.

What I mean by this, is that it’s time to move on. Of course, it’s normal to feel homesick, everyone does from time to time. But it’s how you deal with this homesickness that really matters. Instead of craving a ‘safe-place’ from your past, re-programme your brain to search for a ‘safe place’ in your ‘new life’, or in other words the life you’re living now. When you next feel sad or down, try and think of a happy memory in the place you are now. Slowly this will change your mindset because there’s no point dwelling on the past and keeping yourself tied to a place that’s evolving when you’re missing out on opportunities in the place where you are now.

Feeling homesick is totally okay, and sometimes it’s even good to have a big old cry and get everything out of your system. I know as well as any of you that it hurts, that it’s hard to live between two places and constantly feel like you’re leaving a bit of yourself behind. But it’s the way you deal with this that really matters, and that will eventually help you to get over this. I, myself am still learning more about homesickness, but I’m just trying to share my ideas with you guys. I would really appreciate it if you left a comment letting me know how you deal with homesickness, and any thoughts you have on the subject.

Lots of love and stay strong!

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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