I'm a senior quantity surveyor, so I oversee a team of technical surveyors. We work mainly on pre-contract stuff such as cost estimating, cost planning and client budgets for very large developments. We carry out varied work from "big box" retail parks to quite a lot of large towers of 30 to 60 storeys, for residential, office and hotel developments.
What's the construction market like in Dubai at the moment?
It's going wild – really busy. Some of the things going on here are amazing and this is only 10% of what they've got planned. From my office window I can see 20 or 30 tower cranes on one site alone. There's a whole spectrum of different work – buildings, infrastructure. Whole new neighbourhoods are springing up. Then there are landmark developments such as the Palm Island project and the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai "vertical city". Things are really booming.
What other nationalities have you come across?
The bulk of the QS and technical staff out here are from the subcontinent. They don't command as high a salary as Westerners There are also a lot of Europeans, Australians and South Africans.
What's it like living there?
It's great. I love it. The standard of living is a lot higher than in London, although the costs of day-to-day living are about on a par. Rented property is better though, you get a lot more for your money – you can rent your own two-bedroom flat here for the cost of renting a room in a shared flat in London. And it will be in a complex with a pool, a gym and so on all included in the cost. I'd recommend it to anyone; everyone I know who's come out here loves it. There's something for everyone.
How's the weather out there?
At the moment it's good – like a London summer; warm but not too hot, with cool evenings. In the summer it gets really hot, in the 40s, so you have to stay indoors. Everywhere has air-conditioning – office, car, home. The weather is good all year really – it has only rained four times in the eight months I've been out here.
What do you do when not working?
There are loads of activities; golf, rugby, football and so on. Watersports are big – kitesurfing is very popular. Lots of world-class sporting events happen here – championship golf, tennis, horse racing, offshore powerboating. Give it a couple of years and I think we'll have a grand prix as well. And when they've built the indoor ski slope complex in three years' time, you'll even be able to go skiing. We also get a lot of musicians playing here and because the population is quite small, it's really easy to get tickets for any of these events. You'd struggle to be bored or lonely over here.
Is it hard to adjust to the cultural differences?
Dubai is one of the most liberal Arab countries, but it's still quite different to England; for example all the bars are within hotels because you can't be seen drinking in public. But the social life is really good. The Westerners out here tend to stick together. You have to respect the religion – women need to be careful to dress respectfully for example, and any laddish behaviour in public could get you into hot water with local authorities. But it's not in-your-face, it's not like stricter Gulf countries. As long as you're sensible, you'll be okay.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I haven't been in Dubai for very long so I'd really like to stay here for a few years. After that there's the possibility of a move eastwards – I've heard Hong Kong is interesting. I'd also be interested in Australia. Basically anywhere with good weather and open spaces – the opposite of London!
Fergus RossiterAge 27
Job Senior quantity surveyor, Hanscomb Consultants
Lives Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Qualifications BSc in quantity surveying, Reading University; MRICS
Employment history Four years with Gardiner and Theobald in London, before moving to Dubai to work for Canadian firm Hanscomb Consultants