1970s Jumeirah Photo by Tony Crow - This is not Jumeirah Jane!!
|DAIUTB:||Jumeirah Jane - welcome to Dubai as it used to be. I've heard so much about you but this is the first time we've met.|
|JJ:||Oh is that so? And how long have YOU been in Dubai?|
|DAIUTB:||Me! I arrived in 1971. Stayed for 30 plus years|
|JJ:||Oh I see ------- so WHO do you work for?|
|DAIUTB||Well I don't work anymore. I'm retired.|
|JJ:||Oh I see -------------but you MUST know a lot of Dubai's influential people|
|JJ:||Oh ----------- well in that case I hope this interview is not going to take too long|
|DAIUTB||I'll keep it short. Back in the 1970s no one seems to have heard of Jumeirah Jane?|
|JJ:||Because I wasn't here! I'd never even heard of Dubai in the 1970s. I'm told a lot of Expats lived here then but they were construction and oil people - not my kind of people.|
|DAIUTB||They seemed to enjoy Dubai|
|JJ:||But they all lived in the same little Jumeirah houses, went to the same clubs, did the same things. How dull! I mean there was no "status" ----- how could anyone live properly without "status"?|
|DAIUTB||They were happy enough. So when did you actually come to Dubai?|
|JJ:||I don't remember exactly ----- probably around 1980 or thereabouts|
|DAIUTB||What brought you to Dubai?|
|JJ:||My husband was offered this wonderful job in Advertising---or was it PR? --- or Sales - anyway he just couldn't refuse|
|DAIUTB||Why was that?|
|JJ:||Well I mean it was an amazing offer ---- everything was paid for - house, car, kids' schooling, holidays, club membership, air fares plus a tax free salary and even a gratuity. Who could refuse!.|
|DAIUTB||So your husband gave up his job?|
|JJ:||Well not exactly --- you see it was that dreadful woman Margaret Thatcher - you know - Britain's first woman Prime Minister. My husband had a comfortable job, paid well and didn't have too work hard. Then he was made redundant -- it was all down to that horrible woman. She ruined the country you know!|
|DAIUTB||Was your family happy with you coming to Dubai?|
|JJ:||My mother almost had hysterics --- kept telling me I'd have to "cover up" and worse. Father didn't even know where Dubai was! Once I'd found out where Dubai was myself, I showed him on Amy's school Atlas.|
|DAIUTB||Was Dubai everything you expected?|
|JJ:||Definitely not! I mean we were promised a 5 bedroomed house but we were put in an apartment not much larger than our 3 bedroomed semi detached back home. We had to wait months before my husband's boss finished building a house for us in Jumeirah.|
|DAIUTB||He built a house especially for you?!|
|JJ:||Well no actually. He built a compound of twenty four. We had one of those and I didn't even get to choose which one!|
|DAIUTB||But you were happy once you moved in?|
|JJ:||That was a nightmare! My husband's Boss had ordered the same furniture for all the houses - I mean everyone would have a brown lounge suite - I hate brown - and green curtains - who could live with green curtains?|
|DAIUTB||What did you do?|
|JJ:||Well I got to know the furniture man and the curtain man. They understood. They suggested I furnish four rooms instead of five. They would supply the colours I wanted but invoice for five rooms in the colours just as it was on the company's Purchase Order. Worked beautifully! All the other wives in the compound commented on my furnishings. Even my husband's Boss noticed! At least that's what my husband told me after his Boss came to one of our dinner parties.|
|DAIUTB||But you were happy?|
|JJ:||Of course not. Finding a school for Amy was a major headache. There was only DESS but they were full --- you almost had put Amy's name down at birth to get in --- and those construction and oil people had got their children in first JUST because they'd been here longer---- but then JESS opened and we got Amy a place --- most of my friends' kids did too --- a wonderful school and only just round the corner.|
|DAIUTB||So you didn't need a car?|
|JJ:||Of course we did ----- how else were we going to get to the beach? We bought a four wheel drive.|
|DAIUTB||A Range Rover?|
|JJ:||Certainly not --- far too expensive and anyway the bank wouldn't lend us that much money. We bought a Pajero. Much more stylish and easier to park at Spinneys. All my friends were buying Pajeros too.|
|DAIUTB||So life got easier then?|
|JJ:||It certainly didn't! How was I supposed to look after this huge house and have a social life? No -- we needed to find a house servant and that was an utter nightmare. I tried sharing one with a neighbour and that didn't work out. My neighbour said I was too hard on the girl - I mean baby sitting was one of the things she was paid for - I know we were late home some nights but never more than three nights a week or maybe four and never past 2am. And then we had one come to the door - she was a hard worker -- did everything I told her to do --- but she ran away when I asked for her passport to get her a visa. In the end we had to bring one in from India - from some village somewhere - cost a fortune --- she didn't know anything. Spent all my time telling her what to do and how to do it- but she never understood - useless. I'd have got rid of her but it was so costly getting a replacement and Immigration was difficult. Anyway Amy seemed to like her. In fact Amy still talks about her. How those construction and oil people managed to keep the same house servant for years I'll never know.|
|DAIUTB||But how did you turn into a Dubai Icon?|
|JJ:||Gerard's Patisserie! It was Gerards! When Gerard opened his wonderful coffee shop in Magrudy's Mall in 1981 it opened a whole new world for me. There was nothing like it in Dubai let alone Jumeirah. It was so civilised! Now I had somewhere where I could meet my friends and chat over real coffee --- every morning in fact --- we almost took the place over. Everyone started noticing us and talking about us! I think they were just jealous!!!|
Did you know Gerard recently made a video about his coffee shop.You can see it HERE
But why Jumeirah Jane?
|JJ:||I didn't think of the name -- someone else did -- 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 being called Jumeirah Jane?|
|JJ:||Yes and No --It's flattering to be noticed and talked about but most people don't call me Jumeirah Jane -- not to my face that is. 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 poem written about you.|
|JJ:||Yes I did -- back in 2001 - by that delightful man Paddy Briggs. He was something in Shell Oil you know. It was published in a book named after me and my friends--- sold it in Magrudy's Book Store -- it was in aid of something called The British Community Assistance Fund whatever that was. Have you read it?|
|DAIUTB||Yes I have Paddy's book. I was going to include it in the interview but there might be a copyright issue - so I didn't.|
|JJ:||Oh what a shame! I mean his poem described me beautifully -- it was just me! Although I have to say he didn't get all his facts right ---- but then he hadn't been in Dubai as long as me -- that counts you know.|
|DAIUTB||So you didn't have a job?|
|JJ:||Oh I didn't work -- I mean I didn't have to -- my husband was doing SO well -- he kept saying I should get a job but he has a funny sense of humour -- anyway I wouldn't have been able to get a Work Visa.|
|DAIUTB||So how you did you fill in your time?|
|JJ:||Well of course Dubai wasn't civilised then - no golf clubs and no seven star hotels - I mean there were none at all in Jumeirah then so we used to have lots of coffee mornings - 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 marvellous -- they always improved on the last one! I'm afraid some of the girls couldn't keep up and dropped out. But it was fun -- I mean we got to see who had bought what! You couldn't buy Amanis and Guccis in the early days - at least not in the Soukh - but you you could buy gold - that was my favourite -- gold jewelry of course. Not that I bought a lot - probably not more than once or twice a month. My husband ALWAYS bought me gold for Christmas and my Birthday and usually Mother's Day as well -- when he remembered. I have to say my gold jewelry always brought a lot of attention when I went back home during the summer holidays - I usually wore most of it -- my relatives got quite excited and wanted me to bring them some too. Now everyone buys gold in Dubai - it's just not the same.|
|DAIUTB||Has Dubai improved since you first arrived?|
|JJ:||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||But is that all?|
|JJ:||Of course not. Now "Status" counts for something. How can you possibly make progress without "Status"?|
|DAIUTB||But Jumeirah Jane has become more of a joke in New Dubai than an Icon|
|JJ:||These new people can joke all they want but I am still here!|
|DAIUTB||I'd better let you go. Thanks for your valuable time|
|JJ:||Well yes - I've got to collect Amy and the Finkelstone's kids -- they're friends of ours from the Golf Club --- he is in diamonds you know and she rides the Sheikh's horses --- everyday I'm told! Oh ----and next time I'd prefer a double cappuccino and a Pain au Chocolat -- and no sugar --- I'm on a diet.|
Any resemblance of the events, personal views, opinions and prejudices expressed on this page to any past, present or future Jumeirah Resident is purely coincidental - even if you think you know someone who is a bit like Jumeirah Jane.
Paddy Briggs' 2001 Book "Jumeira Jane and other Dubai Friends" is available HERE
Gerards' Patisserie Video is HERE
"Jumeirah Jane" entered Dubai's vocabulary around the early 1980s. Dubai was starting to grow with new businesses opening up and new people arriving to manage and operate these businesses. Most were new to living and working overseas, attracted by generous employment conditions at a time when employment opportunities were poor in their home countries- particularly Great Britain. As companies usually sponsored the entire family, expatriate wives were not expected to work. It was difficult for those expatriate wives who wanted to work as they could not do so legally without a Work Visa which was difficult to obtain. The few jobs available for woking wives were generally not well paid and demanding in terms of time, so generally wives did not work in the 1970s and 80s. Many expatriates employed House Servants because they probably received a monthly "Servant's Allowance" for that purpose. The "perception" developed that expatriate wives had time on their hands.
Prior to 1980 there were few "layers" to Dubai's expatriate society mainly because their numbers were not large by today's standard and facilities were few. As expatriate numbers increased and facilities improved so the "social" layers became more "defined".
Initially "Jumeirah Jane" epitomised those "new" Expatriate Wives who were seen as flaunting their new found "wealth" (Look at all the gold she's wearing!), leading generally empty lives, (of course she has a house maid who does everything! ), filling their daytime hours drinking coffee with their friends (she's always at Gerards) and establishing their position on the social ladder (she's started playing tennis with Rosemary Bloggs - she's the Managing Director's wife of course).
Of course there was never a "real" Jumeirah Jane but "She's another Jumeirah Jane" was applied to those expatriate wives who others felt fitted "Jumeirah Jane's" profile. However the "Jumeirah Jane" description could never possibly be applied to those who viewed others as "Jumeirah Janes"!
People perception of "Jumeirah Jane" has changed over the years as has her profile. But put "Jumeirah Jane" into your search engine and you will soon see just how much interest there still is in "Jumeriah Jane"!
She lives on !!!!