Jumeirah Jane Dubai 1983

"Jumeirah Jane" entered Dubai's vocabulary around early 1980s. In late 1970s and early 80s Dubai grew rapidly and needed more people. Local companies began recruiting European Expatriates; European Companies started to moving into Dubai. European economic conditions were not good. Margaret Thatcher had just begun the economic upheaval that was to change UK. People were looking for new opportunities but Dubai was still regarded as a "Hardship Posting". Dubai Employers wanting staff had to offer generous employment packages with free housing, transport, schooling, paid leave plus a House Servant plus a generous salary.

Many accepted and became Expatriates for the first time. Dubai's Employment Visa Laws did not allow wives to work. Most took that situation in their stride. A few ran with the situation anxious to get ahead of the crowd!! Their spare time was spent promoting themselves and their new found "wealth"!! These few became known as "Jumeirah Janes".

DAIUTB interviewed Jumeirah Jane in the late 1980s.

Notes from a Jumeirah Jane Interview

DAIUTB:
Welcome to Dubai as it used to be Jumeirah Jane.
JumJane
So how long have YOU been in Dubai?
DAIUTB::
Me?? Just over a week.
JumJane:
Oh I've been here over two years!!!
DAIUTB::
Sorry - I thought you were asking when I arrived back in Dubai which was a week ago. I've been on my annual leave!. I came to Dubai 30 years ago!
JumJane:
Oh! Oh! I see. So - so WHO do you work for?
DAIUTB::
I'm retired now.
JumJane:
But you MUST know an awful lot of influential people?
DAIUTB::
Not really - most of my friends are like me - we just enjoy Dubai.
JumJane:
Oh! I see. Well I hope this "interview" is not going to take too long!
DAIUTB::
Jumeirah Jane, I'd not heard of you in the 1970s?
JumJane:
I wasn't here then! I'd not even heard of Dubai in 1970s. I'm told lots of construction and oil people were here then- not my kind of people
DAIUTB::
They seemed to have enjoyed Dubai
JumJane:
But they all lived in those same little Jumeirah Beach Box houses, went to the same club, did the same things. How dull! There was no "Status" back then. How can anyone possibly live properly without "Status" ??
DAIUTB::
So when did you come to Dubai?
JumJane:
Early 1980s but I can't recall the exact date.
DAIUTB::
What brought you to Dubai?
JumJane:
My husband did - he was offered this wonderful job in Advertising, or was it PR? No it was Sales - I think. Anyway he simply couldn't refuse!
DAIUTB::
Why was that?
JumJane:
Well I mean it was an amazing job offer, everything paid for! House, car, kids' schooling, holidays, club membership, air fares plus a tax free salary and even a gratuity. I mean - how could anyone refuse!
DAIUTB::
So your husband gave up his job back home to come to Dubai?
JumJane:
Well not exactly. It was that dreadful woman Margaret Thatcher - you know - Britain's first woman Prime Minister. My husband had a very comfortable job, paid well and didn't have too work hard. In fact he didn't do much at all! Then he was made redundant. Can you believe it! All down to that horrible woman. Ruined the country you know!
DAIUTB::
Was your family happy when you told them about your coming to Dubai?
JumJane:
My mother almost had hysterics. Kept telling me I'd have to "cover up" and worse. Father didn't even know where Dubai was! He just kept repeating "You'll not get a drink there"! I looked at my daughter Amy's old school Atlas and once I found where Dubai was myself, I showed them all. It didn't make any difference.
DAIUTB::
Was Dubai everything you expected?
JumJane:
Definitely not! I mean we were promised a 5 bedroomed house but we arrived we were put in this apartment not much bigger than our old 3 bedroomed semi in Milton Keynes. Not what we expected at all. We had to wait MONTHS before my husband's boss finished building a house for us in Jumeirah.
DAIUTB::
That's amazing! He built a house especially for you?!
JumJane:
Well, not exactly. He built a compound of twenty four houses. We had one of those. Didn't even get to choose which one! Can you believe that!
DAIUTB::
But you must have been happier once you moved in?
JumJane:
Oh that was a nightmare! My husband's Boss ordered the same furniture for all the houses - EVERYONE had a brown lounge suite - I hate brown - and green curtains. Who has green curtains these days?
DAIUTB::
What did you do?
JumJane:
Well I got to know the Furniture Man and the Curtain Man. They understood my problem immediately and were very helpful. They looked at the Company's Local Purchase Order and said all I had to do to get the colours I wanted was furnish four rooms instead of five as it said on the LPO. They'd submit an invoice for five rooms at the same price as the Purchase Order but I'd get rooms furnished in the colours I wanted - but only in four rooms. It wouldn't cost any more! It worked beautifully! Everyone was happy!
DAIUTB::
I can imagine they were!
JumJane:
ALL the other wives in the compound commented on my furnishings. I think they were jealous! Even my husband's Boss commented on our furniture! At least my husband said he did when his Boss came to one of our dinner parties. Even called my husband into his office next day to talk about my furnishings. My husband wouldn't tell me what his Boss said - silly man!
DAIUTB::
You must have been happy by now!
JumJane:
Of course not. How could I be? Finding a school for Amy was a major headache. There was only DESS and it was full. I would have had to put Amy's name down at birth to get into DESS. All those construction and oil people had got in first JUST because they'd been here longer and their companies had put money into DESS. Then JESS opened and we got Amy a place. Most of my friends' kids did too! A wonderful school and only just around the corner.
DAIUTB::
So you didn't need a car?
JumJane:
Don't be silly. Of course I needed a car! How else were we to get to Jumeirah Beach and up the Wadis? We bought a four wheel drive of course. Everyone had one
DAIUTB::
A Range Rover?
JumJane:
Far too expensive. Anyway the bank wouldn't lend us that much money. We bought a Mitsubishi Pajero. Much more stylish and easier to park at Spinneys. All my friends had Pajeros.
DAIUTB::
So life became easier then?
JumJane:
It certainly didn't!
DAIUTB::
Oh! Why not?
JumJane:
How was I supposed to look after this huge house (five bedrooms you know - all furnished - well four were) and have a social life? No! We needed a house servant. Finding a good one was an utter nightmare. I tried sharing with a neighbour. That didn't work out. My neighbour kept telling me I was too hard on the girl. I mean baby sitting was one of the things we paid her for. I know we were late home some nights but never more than three nights a week, or maybe four, and never ever past 2am. I mean we had a very busy social life! My neighbour kept telling me the Maid was tired - I ask you - that's what they're paid for - working! Then we had one young girl knocking on the front door looking for a job. She didn't want to be paid anywhere near what I was paying my neighbour's Maid so I took her on. She was a hard worker, did everything I told her to do. But when I asked for her passport to get her a Work Visa, she ran away. Never came back! Very disappointing.
DAIUTB::
So what did you do then?
JumJane:
We brought a girl from India - from some village somewhere - cost a small fortune. Didn't know anything. Spent all my time telling her what to do and how to do it. She never understood even when I spoke slowly and loudly. She was useless. I'd have got rid of her but it was so costly getting a replacement. Immigration Department was becoming difficult too about importing Maids. Anyway she and Amy seemed to get on well. In fact Amy still talks about her even though Amy is back home in Boarding School. How those construction people manage to keep the same house servant for years and years I'll never know.
DAIUTB::
So how did you become so well known?
JumJane:
Well it was Gerard's Patisserie - his wonderful coffee shop in Magrudy's Mall when it opened in 1981. At last all us girls had somewhere to go for coffee. There was nothing like it in Dubai let alone Jumeirah. It was so civilised, sophisticated and so French! I met my friends there some mornings to chat over our real coffee. Actually - it was every morning! We almost took the place over. Everyone started noticing us and talking about us! I think they were just jealous!!!
DAIUTB::
But why Jumeirah Jane?
JumJane:
Well it just sort of happened. But honestly what were their alternatives? Umm Sequiem Ursula or Safa Park Suzie. They sound stupid. It wasn't me. Jumeirah Jane has a nice ring to it. It was just me!
DAIUTB::
So you are happy with your name?
JumJane:
Yes and No! It's flattering to be noticed and talked about but most people don't call me Jumeirah Jane -- at least not to my face. In fact I have heard many of my friends called by that name - but not to their faces either.
DAIUTB::
I believe you had a book written about you.
JumJane:
Yes I did. Back in 2001. That delightful man Paddy Briggs. Shame he couldn't spell my name correctly! Sold in Magrudy's Book Store in aid of something called The British Community Assistance Fund, apparently to help destitute British Residents. Must say I've never seen any destitute Brits in Jumeirah.
DAIUTB::
You didn't work?
JumJane:
Of course not! I mean I didn't have to for one thing! My husband was doing
SoooOOOOO well. He kept saying I should get a job but he has a funny sense of humour. Anyway I wouldn't have got a Work Visa even if I tried - not that I did.
DAIUTB::
So how you did you fill in your time?
JumJane:
Well of course Dubai wasn't civilised then - no golf clubs, no seven star hotels and no trendy cafes. I mean there were no hotels at all in Jumeirah then so we used to have lots of coffee mornings at home - just me and my friends of course! We always took turns. I have to say the coffee mornings only got better and better - the girls were marvelous - they always improved on the last one! Some of the girls dropped out. They said it was all getting too much for them. Shame! But it was fun. I mean we got to see who had bought what and where!
DAIUTB::
What did you spend your money on?
JumJane:
We all loved that Amanis and Guccis stuff you could buy in Karama if you knew where to go but gold - that was my favourite - gold jewelry of course. Not that I bought a lot. Probably not more than once - or maybe twice - a month. My husband ALWAYS bought me gold for Christmas and my Birthday and usually Mother's Day as well then sometimes if he had upset me - a sort of peace gift!
DAIUTB::
I see you're wearing some now.
JumJane:
I always wear my gold! I have to say my gold jewelry always brought a lot of attention back in UK during the summer holidays. I wore it all the time. Even the Hairdresser I'd never been to before asked me if I came from Duba! My relatives got excited when they saw my jewelry. They wanted me to bring them gold too. These days everyone buys gold in Dubai. It's just not the same.
DAIUTB::
Has Dubai changed since you first arrived
JumJane:
What a silly question! Of course it has. I mean look at how many Malls and Coffee shops there are now. You never have to go to the same one twice!
DAIUTB::
Is that all that has changed?/dd>
JumJane:
Of course not. "Status" now counts for something in Dubai. It's everywhere now. How can you possibly make progress without "Status"?
DAIUTB::
What do you mean by "Status"?
JumJane:
I would have thought that was obvious!! I mean now we have Emirates Golf Club or Hilton Beach Club for example where we can meet people like us. We don't have to make do with the Dubai Country Club and Buffet Lunches anymore - now we get silver service and proper table napkins!
DAIUTB::
But Jumeirah Jane is something of a joke in New Dubai
JumJane:
They can joke all they want but I am still here!
DAIUTB::
I'd better let you go. Thanks for your valuable time
JumJane:
Well yes. I've got to collect Amy and the Finkelstone's kids. They're friends of ours from the Golf Club - Emirates Golf Club of course. He is in diamonds you know and she rides the Sheikh's horses everyday - and sometimes in the evenings too I've heard!
DAIUTB::
Au Revoir!!
JumJane:
What? Oh yes and Oh - by the way ---- next time I'd prefer a double cappuccino and a Pain au Chocolat - no sugar - I'm on a diet.