Meet one of the smallest expat groups in UAE

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Meet one of the smallest expat groups in UAE
Swiss expats love their life in the UAE and feel at one with people from different nationalities

Swiss expats are impressed with the ambitious and cosmopolitan vibe of the UAE

By Anita Iyer

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Published: Sat 28 Jan 2017, 6:04 PM

Last updated: Sun 29 Jan 2017, 9:20 AM

If you have a Swiss friend, then by now you must be familiar with their three loves - chocolates, varieties in cheese, and mountains. Swiss are probably one of the smallest expat groups in the UAE with only a few thousand residing in the Emirates.
Christian Peter tags Dubai as "a city that awakens the mind". He came to the city in 2007 and found his life partner in Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al Khaja. In the past ten years, he has witnessed Dubai transform into a truly multicultural cosmopolitan.
"As a young professional, I was inspired by the ambition and vision of not only Dubai, but also the UAE as a whole. The ability of the city to challenge preconceptions and drive innovations was and is something truly amazing to behold. In a short stretch of time, not only have we seen Dubai deliver some of the world's most iconic projects, but also become an international destination for tourism, entertainment, investment, and culture. How can anyone not feel inspired and excited by a city that encourages you to step beyond conformity?"
Swiss Chef Michael Fessler came to Dubai two years back as a consultant and has now set up his business in the city. "It is easier to open a business in Dubai than in Europe. We set up our company for Dh35,000 in the free zone."
He prefers the charm of old Dubai over newer plush developments around. He shares that Swiss cuisine is simple and a blend of influences from German, French, and North Italian cuisine. "As a chef, I miss the fresh produce of vegetables back home."
Hailing from the German part of Switzerland, Michelle Gebert, executive director of Swiss Business Council Dubai (SBC) & Northern Emirates, made UAE her home five years ago. Last October, SBC celebrated two decades of bilateral trade co-operation with the UAE. Switzerland reportedly became the first country that agreed to participate in Expo 2020, investing Dh57 million in the Swiss Pavilion.
"The equestrian culture here is amazing," she says. And how can a conversation be complete without her reminiscing about hiking in the Alps and walking through Zürich's old town Niederdorf?
In the hospitality business, Marco Neukom, Director of Welcome, W Hotel, is in love with the cosmopolitan vibe of Dubai.
"I love finding myself surrounded by foreigners from different countries. It's interesting how we, expats, are in the same situation and seek a connection. Such vibrant surroundings truly opens up one's mind and offers a unique insight into different cultures and nature of people." Marco is from Kanton Aargau and has been in Dubai for 19 years.
Amidst our talks, Michael makes an interesting observation.
"The new generation of UAE is culturally inclined. Earlier, the youth used to imitate the culture of other lands, now they seem to be finding a balance between staying connected to their Middle Eastern roots and creating a new identity." And, it is this positive and ambitious vibe of the UAE that makes the Swiss expats feel at home.

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