Meet the South Africans that live in UAE

Meet the South Africans that live in UAE

Living in the UAE reminds south african expats of the diversity of their homeland



by

Ankita Chaturvedi

Published: Sat 4 Feb 2017, 11:16 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Feb 2017, 1:20 PM

Around 1,00,000 expatriates in the UAE belong to the country known for its tapestry of colours. South Africa has it all - impressive sunrises, rolling mountains, and beautiful rivers. Just like their land, South Africans too are beautiful people with diverse cultural backgrounds. What keeps them together is the ritual of Lekker Kuier (visiting friends), which usually involves Braai (BBQ).
Ruth Hullat has been living in Dubai for the last eight years and she feels the best trait of South Africans is their optimism. "We look at the brighter side of life and have embraced the philosophy of 'N boer maak 'n plan, which means a farmer is always ready with a plan when things go pear shaped." She misses the rain, accent (slangs), and outdoor lifestyle of South Africa. "I miss watching the Springboks, our national rugby union team, playing." A full-time mum and a homemaker, she enjoys baking. "Especially, South African Koeksisters, milk tarts, and mint crisp puddings." Further, she adds, "The first year was especially hard for me - adapting to the new (Friday/Saturday) weekends and blending into a multicultural community. Fortunately, now we have a large group of friends and we frequently go for picnics, get-togethers, and friendly meetings over coffee or tea - which, is one of the most common traditions in South Africa." Her husband is also part of a small Harley Davidson club that originated in Dubai and now has a chapter in South Africa.
According to many South Africans, Dubai is where the East meets West and old meets new - and it works. Cecile de Scally, 52, started working as a midwife in 1997 and has worked in several hospitals since then. She provides independent non-medical support services (prenatal education and postnatal support) to women.  "Dubai provides a safe home to all. Interestingly, the weather is similar to that in Zululand, where I grew up. Living here, we've all learnt a lot about the cultures of other people, as well as the challenges they face in their countries. I love to travel and am happy with my expat life, however, returning to South Africa is part of my retirement plan".
The expats look forward to the social gatherings on important days when the South African Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate in Dubai hosts functions for them. "Every year on the occasion of Freedom Day (April 27), we organise a fun family day with activities for children, performances by South African artists, and a lavish traditional fare. It's our way of commemorating the hard-earned freedom that we gained in 1994 and held our first democratic elections. The other special event is South Africa's Heritage Day (September 24), which celebrates the rich and diverse cultural identities of our beautiful country," says Geeta Daya, Political Consul, South African Consulate General Dubai.

All that glitters...

The diamond industry of South Africa has attracted investors and traders across the world since ages. The country is believed to have the world's richest diamond mine. Also, it is at number five when it comes to the world's gold production list.
The country is famous for its rich mineral deposits and mining industry, which has played a major role in the development and economy of the nation. More towns, such as Koffiefontein and Jagersfontein, started up as a result of a concentration of diamond diggers in certain areas. Blood Diamonds is a famous movie based on the history of the diamond trade. 
A wealthy nation, it also possesses other significant minerals like chrome, manganese, platinum, zirconium, palladium, and vanadium. It is the third largest exporter of coal and a huge producer of iron-ore.

We love A good game

As much as they love to eat (and cook), South Africans enjoy staying fit via sports as well. They love a good game. Sporty in nature, most of them are good at more than one game. Whilst the popular choices are soccer, rugby, and cricket - they are equally fond of other sports like swimming, boxing, tennis, and golf. It's common for them to be members of sports clubs.
In the UAE, the South African Embassy and Consulate organises events and sports activities for the expat community. Yes, mere going to the gym is not enough activity for them.
Some of the world's greatest rugby players come from South Africa. The nation hosted and won the 1995 and 2007 (held in France) Rugby World Cup. In 2010, SA hosted the FIFA World Cup and its efforts was recognised by the FIFA president.
Our contemporary style files
For a very long time now, designers all over the world have been inspired from elements of Africa's fashion fabric like wooden jewellery, big head wraps, and tribal patterns. South Africa's Madiba shirts (in bright and colourful prints) in particular have been a popular and much-loved garment. Nelson Mandela's love for the printed shirts was known to all. His Madiba shirts were crafted by local designers like Desré Buirski and Sonwabile Ndamase. Courtesy of Mandela - Madiba Smart soon began to appear on invitations to gala events! In fact, it is said that he refused to be dressed by designer Giorgio Armani and choose locally-made suits of Yusuf Surtee. 
Over the last few years, contemporary fashion design in South Africa has seen a revolution. Today, Cape Town and Johannesburg are not just home to some of the biggest fashion labels like David Tlale and Gavin Rajah, but also to emerging local brands like Thula Sindi, Selfi, and Pichulik.  Yes, the days of South African fashion being associated with mere traditional batik and safari prints are long over. African aesthetics with a contemporary touch seems to be the new design philosophy.
Soweto Fashion Week and South African Fashion Week are now the two most looked forward events in their fashion calendar. Fashion bloggers too are working towards putting the country on the fashion map, as seen in the Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week Joburg 2016. Currently, off shoulder dresses, mismatched floral prints, and contrasting stitches are ruling their streets and runways.
- ankita@khaleejtimes.com


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