Living & Working in Dubai * Lena ter Laare


7 Moksi Women answering my 7 questions : how they are Living and Working in Dubai. 

I was so happy all these 7 women wanted to participate - even more when I could work with the lovely Rebecca Rees - who photographed all their outdoor portrait photo's. We only had 1 day (a crazy busy day!) to make it all happen, since everyone has a busy schedule. So one day in March, we drove around Dubai in the heat and visited them all.

People have a certain image in their heads when thinking of Dubai. Instantly only thinking of the luxurious side of living here - which is here too. But there are more people simply living their normal everyday lives - being a mother, being a creative or running their business. They mix this all together - most of them doing so while creating their home away from home. To me, that's what makes them great & inspiring Moksi Women.


*This week, meet American editor pur sang, Lena ter Laare.

I met Lena for the first time a year ago, on a reader panel dinner for Good Housekeeping Magazine. She instantly welcomed me with her genuine smile and she took the time to talk to each and every one of the women who were there. Some got nervous when she walked up to them but that was unnecessary, because Lena is the real deal. Warm, connected and she knows what she's talking about when it comes to the magazine world. So when she offered me a space in Good Housekeeping Magazine UAE to write 2 articles about Moksi Women in their homes, I was truly grateful for the breakthrough and her trust in my writing (I even did a happy dance!).

You can imagine how big my smile was, when she agreed to share some of her views about Living and Working here in Dubai. Nowadays she is the Group Editor of 3 Hello! magazine titles, but what is more important to her,  are her two gorgeous little boys and her (Dutch) husband. I'm happy we became friends, and even though our paths only crossed for one year, I hope that we keep crossing paths in the future - so we can drink more coffee's, eat more cupcakes and even speak more Dutch together!


**What inspired you to start your business / work in this branch?

I was an English Literature major in university because I love words and actually had aspirations of becoming a literature professor. I made the decision to work for a few years before going to graduate school and basically fell into the magazine business when I started at a small publishing company in the suburbs of Chicago working for a B2B title in the international flower industry. In a word, I was lucky: I had no journalism or photography experience whatsoever, but I was curious about the world and I could write. That was enough to get me in the door. Looking back over the last 15 years I am still amazed at the opportunities that have come my way because that company took a chance on me.

**In your work, what is your favourite creation you have made so far?

My favourite thing is cultivating a relationship with my readers. When I was the Editor of Good Housekeeping I made a point of getting out into the community and listening to the women who were reading the magazine so I could create a product that would meet their needs. It takes a lot more effort than sitting behind a computer and tapping away, but it makes a magazine that much stronger and I loved doing it.

**Working in Dubai, how would you describe it to anyone not living here?

This is a city of amazing opportunities that you’ll never have anywhere else in the world – it quickly becomes normal to have dinner at a 5-star hotel, meet celebrities and spend entire weekends at the mall. The challenge is to not get carried away with all of the glitz and glamour. To create some semblance of a “normal” life, my husband and I look at our family as a refuge from the craziness of the city, something that recharges our batteries and prepares us to go out into the world again. You need that sort of perspective in order to stay grounded!

**Which side of running your own business / working in this branch excites you the most?

Working for a magazine gives me a platform for my curiosity, a reason to walk up to someone and ask them questions about their lives, particularly now in my job as Group Editor of Hello!. It is a fascinating line of work.

**As a working mother, how do you keep a good balance between work and your life at home?

The truth is that some days that balance is easier to strike than others! I’ve made it priority to be home during the working week for bedtime 3 nights out of 5. That means my days are as efficient as possible so I’m home on time and I am very selective about my evening activities. When I’m home, I do my best to be completely connected to my kids. I put my phone away, I’m not on the computer – I’m just mom. That said, I certainly have days when I feel defeated. And you know what? That’s okay. I’ve realized that I don’t always have to get it right. I go to bed, get some sleep and try again in the morning.

**Do you have any tips for other women who want to start their own business or work here in Dubai?

If you can dream it, you can find a way to make it happen; that’s the beauty of Dubai. I would say, though, if you have kids, be clear in your own mind about where your limits are (for instance, will you handle the afternoon pick-ups every day? How many nights a week will you be out?). Also, don’t be afraid of employing a cleaning lady or nanny.

**And last, what is the best part of living in Dubai?

I’ve been here for eight and a half years, and from the very beginning I was struck by the fact that expats have a certain comradery; you have to be made of special material to love this nomadic life! We were each drawn here for different reasons, but we are the same in that we have a unique opportunity to make the most out of this incredible city. I have become close with some truly wonderful people – some of whom have already moved on to other countries – and those friendships will be souvenirs from Dubai for the rest of my life. The fact that so many great people are gathered in the same place (against the backdrop of seven-star hotels, no less) is my favourite part of living here.

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*Photo Lena made by: Rebecca Rees for Moksi Collective.

*Join Lena on Instagram: @lenaterlaare