Black Expat: I Moved To Dubai In My 50s After My Daughter Took The Leap First
Photo Credit: Audrey Lee

Photo Credit: Audrey Lee

Black Expat: I Moved To Dubai In My 50s After My Daughter Took The Leap First

black expat , Dubai , United Arab Emirates
Jasmine Osby
Jasmine Osby Feb 1, 2022

Principal Audrey Lee, 59, had spent over a decade serving as a high school administrator when she packed up and moved to Dubai. 

Originally from St. Louis, MO, Lee began considering moving to the United Arab Emirates after her daughter relocated to teach in Dubai in 2015. The education jobs in Dubai were plentiful and, in 2017, she applied and relocated to the Middle East. 

“It never crossed my mind to go live in another country and I never would have, had my daughter not taken that leap of faith,” Lee said. 

Principal
Photo courtesy of Audrey Lee

Since relocating, Lee and her husband have enjoyed the freedom and a new sense of security living overseas. The couple resides in the Dubai suburb of Mirdif and Lee finds a vast difference in life in the UAE compared to St. Louis. 

“You have to be careful if you’re going to go out and walk at night in St. Louis,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about that here.” 

Lee believes the low crime rate in her new community is due to crime not being glamorized as much as it is in the United States and notices it amongst neighbors and strangers in Dubai. 

“Everyone is really trusting that everyone is going to do the right thing,” she said. 

A principal at a Dubai high school, Lee said the African-American population of Dubai is growing and the education system is composed of a diverse array of professionals. One school she worked at housed staff members representing 25 different countries, and there were enough members in the emirate to form a chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.

Principal
Photo courtesy of Audrey Lee

Despite the staff being diverse, Lee does notice some lapses in the country’s education system. The UAE is only 50 years old and, as a young nation, it is still is developing its national education strategy; tethering between British and Americanized styles of learning. 

“They are a country of proud people,” she said. “They love their country, and they love God, but they have a long way to go with education.”

After having been in Dubai for four years, Lee and her husband plan on spending one more year in the country before relocating again. She visits the US twice a year to check on her mother and has been entertaining the idea of moving to Panama once she leaves the UAE. 

Principal
Photo courtesy of Audrey Lee

This summer, she’ll be touring the Panamanian shores to check out the country with her husband; the culmination of the pair’s research and insight from ex-pat Facebook groups. Aside from its beachside allure, the Lee’s are drawn to the country because of its incredible health insurance opportunities. 

“I enjoy just getting to understand other cultures and seeing how other people live in the world and their expectations for life,” Lee said. “Experiencing their culture has been magnificent.”

Although she doesn’t know when, Lee believes she will one day return to live in the United States. Until then, she plans to spend another year in Dubai, swing through Panama, and find delight in planning for her next destination.

“My only regret is that I didn’t do it 15 years ago because it’s just so much to life outside of America,” Lee said.

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