Nicole Waterman wanted big-project experience in a new environment, and found just what she wanted in Dubai.

CV: Nicole Waterman, 32, is a civil engineer at Buro Happold in Dubai. She worked for eight years in Australia before joining Buro Happold London's office in August 2004.

How did you end up working in Dubai?

There was a three-month consignment in Dubai and June 2005, and I am still here. I stayed so long because the projects here are very rewarding and challenging. I like the social lifestyle too. I am here for another year I think.

Was it difficult to adapt?

No, not at all. There was a bit of a cultural shock at the beginning, because people live differently. They drive differently. They have different ways of doing things. For example the municipalities have a slower system than in the UK. You don't always get things as soon as you'd wish. The week is different with our weekend being on Thursdays and Fridays.

Did you have to upgrade your skills to take up the job?


Have you learnt the language?

No. A very little of Arabic. Just enough to get by.

Would you like to move somewhere else after Dubai?

I stayed so long because the projects here are very rewarding and challenging.

Nicole Waterman

I hope to try somewhere else, North America, South East Asia.

Do you miss the UK?

I don't miss the weather. I guess I miss my friends, the things I used to do, the social life. But you have to adapt to living somewhere else.

Do you see yourself moving back to the UK?

I don't think so.

How often do you go back?

Just once since I moved here. I am Australian, so I go back to the UK once a year and once back home.

What advice would you give to people tempted by working abroad?

To go with the flow. Be flexible. Have a go because it's worth it. The rewards make it worthwhile.

What's the best thing about working abroad?

Be flexible. Have a go because it’s worth it. The rewards make it worthwhile.

Nicole Waterman

For me, I would say career-wise I have the chance to work on really amazing large-scale projects.

What's the worst thing about working abroad?

You have to get used to it and move outside of your comfort zone. If you don't like challenging yourself, it can be a downside.

What do you see from your office window?

Another high rise building, the traffic jams and sometimes a sand storm.

What about the food?

Food's good. I really like their kebabs. It looks like at home, but so much better.

How's the life in your office?

We're almost 35 staff. Nearly everyone is an expat, from the UK, India, the Philippines, Australia or New Zealand. It's different in that it's so much more multi-cultural.

What can the UK construction industry learn from this country?

The pace of construction things. We could learn from that, they have here a huge labour force, but of course it's a cheap labour force. This idea of a disposable labour force wouldn't work in the UK.