Dubai, United Arab Erimates /

Moving to a new country sounds intriguing and something we secretly may dream of. While most of us are happy keeping it a daydream others make it happen not only once, but several times! Meet Madeleine, an Alkeback friend and artist from Sweden who followed her heart and packed up her family to go to Dubai.

“Who doesn’t dream of leaving it all behind and starting over in a new country? I did – and I decided to make it happen. Not just once, but three times. Today I live in Dubai, with my husband and teenage son.”

By Madeleine Kurtsdotter


Ever since I was a very young girl, I’ve always dreamed of living in foreign countries. As a child I spent hours and hours with my atlas or in front of my grandfather’s globe dreaming of travelling to and living in foreign places with exciting names, far from my home in Sweden.

This desire for living abroad took me first to the US where I spent a year at an American high school. I knew then that seeing more of the world was the thing for me. Everything was so different and I was excited to learn new things each day. It whetted my appetite for more adventures.

A few years later I decided to move to France, a country that had always attracted me. I loved every minute of my eight years in Bordeaux, with its amazing scenery, vineyards, good food and nice people. When in France I also met my husband, a real Frenchy, very exotic in my eyes.

At the time I worked as a consultant for IKEA International, and had the chance to travel and work on projects in many interesting countries. One of the places I visited was the United Arab Emirates. This was in 2000 when Dubai was still quite a quiet place in the desert. I fell in love with it, intrigued by the colours, the sun, the scents, and everything else that was so different from where I came from.

The years passed by and my longing for foreign places didn’t diminish. Nor did I ever forget Dubai. After a few holiday trips there and some serious discussions, I finally persuaded my husband and son that as a family we should move to Dubai and make our home there. They came to love the idea and we had so much fun planning and dreaming of our new life. The feeling of realising this dream not only for myself but with and for my family was so special.

I was lucky to have a boss in Sweden at the time who agreed to let me work remotely from Dubai while my husband, a dentist, had no problem finding a job – and in fact found two. The first one fell through two days before we moved there, which called for some serious crisis management, but after many ifs and buts he landed an even better job.

” Everyone who has made a big move knows all the planning and action that goes into it. We rented out our house, sold a lot of stuff, said goodbye to friends, arranged a container to ship our furniture to Dubai… you name it “


And boy was it worth it! We’ve now lived in Dubai for almost three years, and we’re all happy about it. What we like most is that our everyday life is so much more exciting. Dubai is a melting pot of nationalities and we feel that we learn new things every day, whether visiting the supermarket that’s full of foods from around the world or chatting with neighbours from India, Australia, Africa, and elsewhere. At my son’s school there are more than 80 different nationalities – and they all get along so well. It’s a wonder of integration.

We have also grown closer as a family since we get to spend more quality time together. We don’t belong to the glittery part of Dubai but rather enjoy simpler things like going to the mountains, the beach, the desert, visiting neighbouring countries, and hanging out with newfound friends.

We love every day of our new lives (well almost every day), and are so happy we took this giant step together.
We’re proud of ourselves that we followed our dream, and didn’t give up.

” If, like me, you are a dreamer then I can only advise you to pick yourself up, pack yourself up, and go and follow that dream.”

My Dubai
Off the beaten track


Dubai is full of fun and exciting things to see and do. The travel guides will tell you to go to Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, The Gold Souk, Burj Al Arab, The Marina, Kite Beach, Mall of the Emirates and other typical tourist attractions. While these are great places to see, I want to share some of my favourites with you. These are the places I go when I need to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Heritage Desert Safari
The best way to enjoy the desert if you don’t have your own 4WD is to go with a tour operator. There are many companies that offer desert safaris but I always recommend visiting friends the most authentic one, Platinum Heritage. This is the only ecotourism desert safari company in Dubai. They offer many different desert packages, all using vintage 1950s Land Rovers.

Mountain retreat
To escape the city for a few days, make the two-hour drive up into the mountains to Hatta. Go hiking in the mountains or in a wadi, take a swim in one of the natural pools, visit the Masafi Friday Market, or simply enjoy the scenery and the fresh air.

Kayaking in the mangroves
Another favourite is the mangroves of Abu Dhabi or Ajman, a 90-minute drive from Dubai. A guided kayaking adventure through the unique marine ecosystem with its spectacular scenery and a variety of terrestrial and marine life is such a fascinating and peaceful experience.