Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'We Were Adventurous and Looking for Change'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'We Were Adventurous and Looking for Change'

Article excerpt

Anyone looking to emigrate must thoroughly research the country they are considering before making a life-changing move, says Ed Bartz (above), who has spent more than two decades living abroad with his family.

The 52-year-old engineer and his wife, Kirstin, 54, admit taking a "step in the dark" when they moved to Saudi Arabia with their two young daughters in the early 1990s. So when they planned on moving to Dubai seven years ago, they made sure they found out all about it first.

"You need to know what you're getting into," he says. "You hear of problems arising and people saying that it wasn't what they had expected but there is a wealth of information available online to give you a feel for a country from someone who lives there."

He says that Dubai is a prime example. "It is Westernised and very lenient in many respects, but when somebody does overstep the mark, and alcohol is generally the cause, then it's frowned upon and they send out a message that it won't be tolerated. It's all about respecting their culture."

Knowing what to expect means newspaper stories of expats falling foul of various laws shouldn't be a concern. "Given the number of people coming through Dubai it's a drop in the ocean," he says. "It's one or two people who have no regard for where they are and get carried away."

The family's expat adventures began when jobs were thin on the ground in the recession of the early 1990s. At the time, the couple were living in Leeds with their children, but as they always had a desire to travel and find rewarding jobs they decided to look for opportunities abroad."We heard there were companies offering postings for people who were willing to undertake expat contracts in harsher, hazardous or isolated living conditions in exchange for additional money," recalls Bartz. "We were young, adventurous and looking for change, and quickly found good jobs in the Middle East."

They moved to Saudi Arabia when their daughters were aged seven and 18 months. "Prior to the move we did a bit of research through travel books, but it really was a step in the dark as we couldn't research online like we would now," he explains. …

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