What brought you to Abu Dhabi?
I was headhunted, but the world economic climate brought me here. I was convinced there would be a global slowdown, particularly in sports architecture, which is my speciality, and I thought the UAE would be less affected by it. I think the project I'm working on here has a much greater chance of going ahead than many schemes in Europe and North America, two main areas I was previously involved in.
What are you working on?
I'm working on a secret project. All I can say is it's a major stadium facility. It's multipurpose but it will be primarily used for the favourite sport here – football – by the locals. It will also be used for cricket by the huge number of expats here are from the Indian subcontinent.
Where are you living?
I live in Dubai and I commute to Abu Dhabi, which takes an hour. The reason I live in Dubai is purely economic. The domestic properties in Abu Dhabi were shooting up in price when I arrived. They have since stabilised, but when I originally got here they were climbing and in Dubai they had stabilised. Now, if anything, they are climbing downwards in Dubai because of the economic downturn.
Who is out there with you?
My wife works as a project manager in the UK, and she's working on a scheme at the moment that she's keen to follow through to the end, and which will last approximately to the middle of 2009. Her boss has kindly agreed that once a month she can have a long weekend so she comes out then, and my own position here takes me to London once a month. That's the current arrangement, but we've rented property for two people not one, so the plan is that she will eventually join me.
What's the best thing about Abu Dhabi?
It is an incredibly safe, clean and prosperous city. I never have any fear any time of the day in any location in this city, and I've been to almost all of it. And that's a very rare thing to say about anywhere in the world. It means you are relatively relaxed at all times. It's also a sophisticated city. Just look at the events that took place last year – like a George Michael concert – and live theatre and concerts are now regularly performed here. This is the capital of the Emirates, not some isolated part of the world.
What surprises you about the UAE?
I've been coming here for a number of years so I knew the place relatively well. The biggest surprise has been that at one point there were over seven dirhams to the pound and now it's two dirhams less. When you live here it makes no difference, but when you go back to the UK you find have an increase in salary without you or your employer doing anything.
What do you miss about the UK?
I miss the BBC. I'm a great Radio 4 listener and I haven't found how I can pick it up yet. We get some BBC TV programmes on our satellite package but you very rarely get BBC One, which is a station I thoroughly enjoy. I miss that, more so when I'm alone than when my wife is here.