5 MINUTES WITH: Natasha Hatherall, UK expat and founder and CEO of TishTash Communications

Natasha has made Dubai her home for 14 years now

 Tell us a little bit of yourself


I’m Natasha Hatherall (people call me Tash), a 40 something year old Expat from the UK and the founder and CEO of TishTash Communications. I’ve worked in marketing and communications across the world for over 20 years and I set up my business in Dubai 12 years ago, with the plan to freelance and have flexibility in my life to travel and live a more balanced life.

As it happens, life had a different plan for me, and fast forward 12 years and my agency is one of the leading PR and marketing agencies in the region. We’ve won lots of brilliant awards, there are over 60 in our team, we have three offices in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the UK and I’ve not rested much in that time!  I live on Palm Jumeirah with my husband Raf and two cats.


How and when did you move here, and what inspired the move?


I moved to Dubai 14 years ago now.  I’d never been to Dubai, but I wanted to tick living and working abroad off my bucket list, so I sent my CV to a university friend who lived here and four weeks later I was packing up my home and my life in the UK and moving to country I’d never visited.  It was the best decision I had ever made.  I had planned to live abroad for two years, like most of us. I ended up opening a business, buying a home and marrying someone I met here – Dubai today is our home, and we love it and have no plans to leave.


How has living in Dubai shaped your sense of belonging and community?


One of the best things about living in Dubai and expat life for me is how welcoming and inclusive people are. I feel that back in the UK and our home countries, people are often very set in their ways and friendship groups and are not always so welcoming to new people.  Here in Dubai, we have all been new at one time and generally you are always welcomed by people. It’s easy to meet new people, make friends and feel at home.   I have made some of the best friends of my life here.

When we’re away from our family, our friends really do become our family, however cheesy it may sound.  I am very fortunate to have friends here I could call at any time of the day if I needed them. Expat life is very unusual, and it does change you and your life perspective forever I believe – but only in positive ways in my experience.

The one downside is the disconnection from your home country as 14 years on I feel a greater sense of belonging in Dubai than I do the UK and I don’t even know how my own birth/home country operates to live in anymore.


Can you tell us about a particular person in Dubai who has had a significant impact on your life and why?


My husband Raf.  We met in Dubai 12 years ago and our paths would never have crossed in the world had we both not moved to the city.  Dubai makes you meet people you’d never have met normally, from different countries, cultures and religions and that is so special.  I believe life does always get us to where we need to be and Dubai gave me many things, but my amazing Iraqi husband is of course my favourite.


What is your favourite thing about the emirate and why?


I love how multi-cultural the city is and with this how spoilt we are in terms of food and cuisines.  I’m a foodie and I love eating out and we do have some of the best restaurants in the world here.  We also have a great choice of ingredients in our supermarkets to experiment with whilst cooking.


A myth about Dubai that you would like to bust


That we all earn lots of money and don’t work very hard!  The days of crazy expat salaries are largely gone and most of us live here because of the safe and quality lifestyle and the fact we want to, rather than using it as the chance to get rich quick.  Everyone I know works very hard in their jobs too as there is a real hustle culture here, and many great opportunities that come with it if you do well.  I can’t remember the last time I had a full day off or went to the beach/pool – real life takes over and I think this is why we all joke time goes so fast in Dubai too as we’re all going at quite a pace always.


Could you share a memorable moment when you felt the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Dubai community in your own life?


Whilst none of us would want to go back to Covid times, I do feel the Dubai expat community and community as a whole did come together during this time to support each other. Many of us were having challenging work and economic times given we didn’t receive any financial support living outside of our home country and many of us could not travel for a long time to see our loved ones.  The community came together, we rallied, we created great initiatives to support each other, and we did get through together.  I think I met more new people during this time than I have in 12 years in Dubai. We were definitely in it together – I felt that very strongly.


To meet more Dubai people, visit Yalla Dubai

Image credit Tash Hatherall

Derek Issacs

A Brit in the Middle East for 25 years and counting, Derek loves scouring the streets for those under-the-radar cultural gems. And when he’s not putting Yalla – Abu Dhabi magazine to bed, you’ll find him working out at the gym.