Swiss couple can't imagine 'life without Dubai'

DUBAI - For 31 long years, Peter Harradine has lived, worked and brought up his children in Dubai and now insists that he cannot imagine

By Preeti Kannan

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Published: Fri 1 Aug 2008, 2:03 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:59 PM

Having celebrated the Swiss National Day for over three decades away from his native place in Caslano in Switzerland, the businessman and his family have made the emirate his home and could possibly be the oldest Swiss residents in the UAE.

Senior designer at the Harradine Golf, MD of Orient Irrigation and President of the Swiss Business Council (SBC) in Dubai, Harradine recalled that when he came to Dubai, he wasn't really sure where he was headed.

'When I came to Dubai, I didn't know what or where Dubai was. It was completely unknown to me and I had to look it up on the map. It was both a cultural shock and pretty adventurous for me to move here,' says the 61-year-old expat, who moved to Dubai to work for his English company.

Harradine's wife, Nikky, a squash coach at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, says the combination of several factors make the emirate a great place to live in.

'Dubai is a great place to bring up children because of the quality of living, high standards of education and safe environment. My children, while growing up, could always engage in various sport activities. Growing up amidst different nationalities and communities has broadened their outlook towards life,' says Nikky.

The couple's three children, Michael (25), Natasha (22) and Lawrence (20) were born and brought up here and have now moved on to work and study abroad.

Nikky concedes that after living here for many years, it would be hard for her to resettle in Switzerland. 'I think it would be hard for me to go anywhere after living here for so many years,' she emphasises.

Besides settling down here and buying properties, the Harradines feel that Dubai is a perfect business hub and the geographical location gives it an edge to companies. 'The good infrastructure and communications also make it a great place to operate from,' said Peter.

The SBC president says that when he first came to Dubai, the emirate and its people had a 'lot of soul.'

'We all had a soul, expatriates and the entire community was closely knit. But like all other big cities, Dubai has also become a big metropolis and no one has the time. We are always running and, in the process, we have all lost our souls,' observes Harradine.

Though he would eventually go back to Switzerland, he conceded it would be hard to imagine a life without Dubai.

'Dubai plays a major role in our lives,' said the Swiss national, adding that he would always feel a lot of attachment for the emirate.

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