The UAE may be the sixth-best country for expatriates to live and work in, but it can be a challenge for new arrivals looking for advice.
Fortunately, the country is filled with countless women who are offering career advice, personal recommendations, job opportunities, relationship support, coffee meetups and even car pools with each other.
Single, married, divorced, mother to 10 or to none, working professional, entrepreneur or stay-at-home mum — scores of women turn to these Facebook groups, which provide a safe and non-judgemental space. No topic is taboo in these groups, except bullying and shaming. It’s simply where the real women of the UAE post their secrets and their suggestions on wide-ranging topics.
Here are five to know.
The group was started in 2019 by Nashwa Nader, a marketing manager and doctoral researcher, who was born and raised in UAE. Nader, who is an Egyptian national, wanted to create a safe space to welcome all women to Dubai. “I always think any help is highly appreciated even if it comes in the smallest possible form,” says Nader.
Dubai Chicas started with 200 ladies in its first week and now has more than 28,500 members. Join, and you will find a diverse group of women with a wealth of knowledge, who are highly opiniated yet ever helpful. This dynamic is the fundamental reason for its success, believes Nader.
The group receives 100 post requests a day, she says, and it is centred on assisting the businesses run by its members as well as offering relationship, housing and career advice. Dubai Chicas is also constantly reaching out to more women through focused subgroups and social events in a bid to carry on strengthening the network.
That Dubai Girl
The group was started in 2020 by Kirsty Campbell, who is originally from the UK, after a girls’ evening out. “Women want to be respected and supported, yet we still face criticism from other women – particularly on social media,” says Campbell.
The group has since become her full-time job — and she also founded That Dubai Agency and Urban Market Concept alongside to create a fully fledged brand dedicated to supporting women in the community. Here, you can pick the brain of 23,000 women across the city who are happy to assist each other in all areas of life, from relationship, career and legal advice, to supporting local businesses.
Despite having a team support the enterprise, Campbell says she believes in connecting with her members on a personal level and treating every request as a priority.
Real Mums UAE
The group was founded in 2016 by British national Megan Al Marzooqi on the theory that it takes a village to raise a family. Al Marzooqi, who is mum to five boys, envisioned a place where “the sisterhood of motherhood” is celebrated every day.
There were only about 50 people in the group in its first week, mainly the founder’s friends, but it now has more than 25,000 members, with Al Marzooqi receiving up to 400 requests to post a day as well as private messages. The vision for the future is grounded on the same belief upon which the group was founded: to help, advise and support mums in the UAE.
Look to this group for any and all recommendations and advice related to childbirth and parenting, from doctors specialising in difficult pregnancies and lactation consultants, to educational toys and teenage tantrums.
Female Fusion Network UAE
The group was started in 2015 by Canadian Jen Blandos, who wanted to stay in touch with her peers after she moved to the UAE. She says she did so as starting a business is hard enough, but doing it in a new country is even more challenging. It is now a full business network.
Female Fusion Network UAE has more than 21,000 members, with women joining to get professional advice from fellow entrepreneurs — whether it is finding the right supplier, starting a business, legal recommendations or for networking purposes.
Blandos licensed the company in 2020 and also created Fusion Circle, a paid-membership group focusing on helping female entrepreneurs start, build, grow and scale their businesses. The 600-plus Fusion Circle Facebook members benefit from focused trainings, verified business listings and invitations to face-to-face events run by industry professionals.
The free Facebook group still benefits many women, some of whom are looking to acquire new business. Blandos receives hundreds of post requests a day, requiring up to six hours of work daily to maintain the group.
The Big Beauty Scoop
The group was started in 2017 by British national Vicki Ashlin, who wanted to create a place where real women could get real beauty advice, as she felt beauty standards were becoming unrealistic in the age of influencers.
“The support ladies give each other is mind-blowing. There is also a function for anonymous posts, so women can get advice without feeling vulnerable,” says Ashlin. The group had about 500 members when it started and has grown to 16,000 since then.
No topic related to health and beauty is off limits. Here, women ask about lip fillers, hair loss, cosmetic clinics and where to find the best facial in town, as well as finding out from others what worked for them and what to potentially avoid.
The group also offers free make-up classes and hopes to offer more educational beauty and wellness in the future.