x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The rise and fall of a Jumeirah Jane

This former Jane does not wish to be identified, but she told M her story, which is typical of the Jane Drain.

This former Jane does not wish to be identified, but she told M her story, which is typical of the Jane Drain. "We moved to Dubai from the UK in 2004. My husband works as a project manager in construction. We came from Sevenoaks [35km south-east of London], where I had worked as an administrative assistant at a dentist's surgery. My husband was headhunted by a big property company to oversee the building of several residential blocks and a pool and shopping complex.

The company found us a villa on a side street off Jumeirah Beach Road. Our two boys, aged six and eight, were enrolled in the Gems Academy. We had a maid, a driver and a part-time gardener. I suppose looking back on it I was a bit like a kid in a sweet shop. I went from a working-class existence to having the kind of life I used to read about in Hello! magazine. Before I moved to Dubai I had never had a manicure.

By 2006 I had gone truly native, and by that I mean native to Jumeirah. I even had surgery - liposuction - to make me feel more like the other ladies I lunched with, who were all thinner than me. There was competition between us, but we had a lot of fun, meeting for coffee and showing off the latest handbag. All my friends were into tennis so I got a coach as well. I didn't want to miss out. I got quite good at it: well you would, wouldn't you, if you had time to play three times a week.

Sometimes when I was walking off court in my Juicy Couture tracksuit, sun visor, manicured nails and perfectly highlighted hair I would have a moment of looking in on myself, rather like I was watching myself in a movie, and I liked what I saw, I really did. I felt I had arrived. My husband lost his job in December 2008. It was a real shock. They said they were in the final stages of the project and could manage without him. We were desperate not to go back to the UK so he started looking for work and at the same time set up on his own as a freelance consultant. He had three months' money, so we were fine for a bit. Then we had to sell my car: well, there was no need for two great big cars any more. The driver, of course, went with the job, so he was gone. We kept the maid but had to let the gardener go.

I started to feel uncomfortable hanging out with the others. I couldn't really afford the life we had together any more. But they were my friends and without them I was alone. I admit that I had lost touch with a lot of my friends from back home because we didn't really have anything in common any more. They would have laughed at my liposuction and the new high-maintenance me. I knew things were getting dire when my husband asked me to go out and get a job. I went to a few clothes shops I used to buy stuff from to see if they needed anyone. No one seemed very keen on hiring an ex-Jumeirah Jane. They were a lot less happy to see me without my gold credit card.

In July this year we left and went back to Sevenoaks. Looking back on it now I suppose I did turn into a bit of a classic Jane. "Deeply superficial" was how one of my friends back home put it. I have a job in a local nursery school, my nails are chipped and I no longer know one end of a designer handbag from another. That person seems like a different lady. I am more grounded now; actually, I suppose I am just back to what I was before my stint as a Jumeirah Jane. The good news is, out of a group of eight core women, six of us are now back here or on our way back.

But often, when the weather's grey and the children are arguing, I think back to our time in Dubai. I would be lying if I said I didn't miss it. Being a Jumeirah Jane was great fun, and I'm really glad I had the chance to be one. At least I can say I lived the dream, even if I eventually had to wake up and make my own coffee."