I'm so glad I found this thread.
I live in Dubai so if anyone has any specific questions or needs any info I would be MORE than happy to help!
As pp's have mentioned, there seems to be a LOT for kids to do- even during the summer when it can get up to 50degrees Celcius here- they have a HUGE campaign called "Summer Surprises" which is VERY geared up towards kids.
There are different activities planned for them every day in almost every major mall.
Most "communities" here will have some kind of "Mommy group" to join too.
In the "winter" here, the weather is just amazing for beaches, swimming pools, dune-bashing, camping in the desert etc.
I would imagine it could feel quite isolating here if you didn't know anyone and didn't make the effort to get out and join these programs though.
The lifestyle here isn't really condusive to going down to the park and meeting other Mamas.
RE: breastfeeding- I have found them to be VERY PRO breastfeeding. I ended up having a c-section and the baby was brought to me ASAP after I got out of theatre for feeding. The nurses came back regularly to check how I was doing without being intrusive. The hospital I delivered at had breastfeeding "classes" every couple of weeks throughout my pregnancy and the place is PLASTERED with posters about the benefits etc.
I have to second though, that the formula companies have definitely carved their niche out in the market here- I would say the ratio of b-feeding to formula feeding Mamas I meet here is about 50/50
But when I go to WBV's, it's not like they're giving me kudos for b-feeding, it's kind of like the "norm", or "expected"...KWIM?
To be honest, I haven't actually *seen* many Mamas NIP, but as was stated before, ALL shopping centres have "Mother's rooms" where there is a changing table, comfy chair, area for kids (with little sink for little handwashers
), and those places are normally pretty full of nursing Moms.
IMHO, there is a HUGE race/class distinction going on over here. This is just from *MY* personal experiences, but Indian people are not always treated very well here.
Indians and Pakistanis generally make up most of the unskilled work-force over here, are paid what I consider to be slave wages, and alot of the time seem to be treated as second-class citizens; even those with higher educations in corporate settings.
I'm not saying this is ALWAYS the case, but I just want people to be aware
I am South African BTW, this is just my observation.
As for the work visas- alot of companies PREFER to hire a woman that is on her Husband's visa, because then the company will not have to pay for it/organise it, which is the norm here.
I have been here for 6 years and have worked for most of that time on DH's visa with NO worries.
Although you will need a "letter of consent" signed by your DH to allow you to take a job in some circumstances.
About public transport- taxis are probably the most widely used at the moment, for periodic use they are affordable, but I wouldn't reccommend using them every day- it adds up!
They do have a bus service, but from what I've heard, it's not always reliable and up until very recently, the bus-stops were all open so it meant sitting outside in the baking sun for who-knows-how-long...
They are in the process of building new AC bustops now. I think most of them are finished.
The metro-rail is also under construction and is supposed to be finished by 2010 and is also well under way.
Wow- that was long and inverted commas were WAY overused.
Like I said, any questions, just PM me or I will keep checking back here...
that is all