Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be moving to a foreign country to live, let alone a country in the Middle East. Over the 2009 Christmas and New Year’s holidays, my husband Roger and I discussed what we wanted the next part of our life to be like. He thought that before retiring, he would like to do one more airport project but only if he could find something very interesting. I half-jokingly agreed that would be fine but could he try for an exotic location? As usual, Roger came through and soon we were headed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This blog is a recap of our "leap-of- faith" wanderings around the Middle East and beyond. We joyfully share these expat experiences.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Photo courtesy of
Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, disliking the 'sinking feeling’ she got in late afternoon, is credited with the creation of the British tradition of afternoon tea.

She started having a pot of tea in the afternoon, inviting friends to join her, and before long there were cakes and breads added and the ladies were ensconced in this iconic tradition. I wonder who brilliantly introduced Champagne at tea-time?

I partook of high tea on one of my visits to London and can’t say that I liked the tea or the treats. But,  that was not the case at the  British Embassy's   recent High Tea and Jazz to benefit The Flying Angel. 

It is a crisp clear February afternoon when the British Embassy opens its doors and beautiful gardens to host the 5th annual High Tea and Jazz benefit.

More than 400 guests are royally treated to jazz, tasty tea treats and Dubai’s cool breezes while supporting the Seafarer’s Mission’s -The Flying Angel

The day celebrates the generosity of Dubai residents and corporations, with more than 202,000 dhs raised ($55,000+). We also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Seafarers presence in the UAE and the 5th anniversary of The Prince of Wales’ commissioning of the Flying Angel, the first purpose built seafarer support vessel in the world. 

Roger and I opt to travel by my newest Dubai ‘treasure’  – Rafiq, a gracious and timely private driver – because, as usual, parking is non-existent by the Embassy and with 400 guests taxis will be scarce. Just imagine!

Dear friends Wendy and Hal Burke, who graciously invited us to the event, join us for the pleasurable ride. 

The British Embassy regally resides in Dubai’s ‘Embassy Row” on Al Seef Street along the Dubai Creek. Britain and the UAE have strong ties that go back hundreds of years, and since the 1940s, Ambassadors and Consul Generals have enjoyed postings in Dubai.

Tea sandwiches, cakes and scones are on the fare and of course a selection of teas. For those of us who are not “teetotalers,” there is also a bit of ‘vino’ for sale. The British are so civilized!

Chef Uwe of the Radisson Blu, Diera creates a delicious birthday cake for the occasion.

Jazz singer Cara Jean Roberts serenades us as Young Roge, one of Dubai most popular DJs, MCs the event in his bright style.  A lively auction adds to the coffers.

A strong contingent of American Women’s Association (AWA) members arrive decked out in their finest afternoon tea dresses and suits.

Didn’t we all wish we had a ‘wicked’ hat like Theresa! Next year ladies!

A ‘jolly good time’ was had by all as we joyfully support this humanitarian cause.  The tranquil Embassy surroundings and the cheerful ‘toff’ guests make for a perfect afternoon garden party in Dubai.   

AWA members l. to r. Katie Foster, Cynthia Zimmerman,  Wendy Burke, 
Renuka Matthews, Cheryl Martino, Diana Mullins, Robin Loving, Patricia Talbot, and Theresa Dommett
The AWA is a long-time supporter of the Flying Angel both financially and with volunteers.

One of the favorite volunteer activities is at Christmas time when volunteers from around the city come to wrap 25,000 items into 5,000 gift packages that are gifted to the seafarers. AWA funded the T-shirts that served as the “wrapper” for this past Christmas’ gifts.   

The Flying Angel helps seafarers who man the ships that bring Dubai 99.3% of its everyday necessities, luxuries and comfort. These seafarers do not exactly have luxurious accommodations and are not allowed to disembark while they are anchored off the Fujariah, UAE, coast on the Gulf of Oman.

They can go without seeing their families for many months, even years. As a result, it is common for seafarers to go through long periods of isolation and loneliness, unable to communicate with family and friends at home.

The Flying Angel goes out every day and moors next to the cargo ships allowing seafarers the opportunity to board her where they can call home, send an email, read a newspaper, purchase souvenirs or take a book free from the library.  

“I have not seen pictures of my new born baby for 5 months as we are not allowed to download large picture files on our ship. It is good to see her growing. I wish I was there but this is the next best thing,” a Honduran sailor remarked.   

Since 2007, more than 80,000 seafarers have benefited from the Flying Angel’s services. The Mission also helps the seafarers in emergency situations like owners abandoning ships and leaving the crews stranded.

To help Seafarers click here

Many thanks to the Seafarers’ staff Alexis and Karen who did a brilliant job of organizing the event.

And thanks, Wendy and Hall, for including us in this elegant affair.

Postscripts . . .

Rafiq . . . I will always be indebted to Rafiq for saving me one late afternoon in front of the American Hospital. I was waiting a long time at the cab stand after my last appointment before my back surgery and was in severe pain. My timing was bad as it was 4 PM when the cab shifts change and there are NO cabs available anywhere in the city. Not being quick on my feet, I missed the first opportunity and the next cab refused to take me because he was going off shift. At the bend in the driveway a man was waving. Timidly, the security person came to me and asked if I wanted to engage this driver’s services. By this point I didn’t care what the charge was since I was about to faint from the pain.  Rafiq skillfully brought me home, for a very reasonable fee, and we have been fast friends ever since. Just another jewel in Dubai’s crown.

'Sky' High Tea at the Burj Al Arab . . . Sister Paty Barr and her friend Kathryn Bryant have selected as one of their Dubai experiences High Tea at the top of the Burj Al Arab
Claiming to be the world’s most luxurious hotel (read expensive) with its own fleet of Roll Royces (no we will not be getting a ride), it is Dubai’s iconic building featured on most promotional pieces. It resembles a billowing sail and is lit at night by choreographed lighting representing fire and water. 
This should be a very interesting experience. Hope they serve champagne along with tea!

Cara serenades Robin & Rick Loving
Cara serenades Renuka and Steve Mathews


  1. Hi Katie, Lovely post...
    I have always loved this Teatime ritual which I was introduced to as a traditional remnant from the English presence/colonization in Africa. Growing in Sudan we had a simpler version due to lack of luxury items from abroad. But the home made clotted cream made on our farm from our cows..and my mom's jam will always haunt me.
    Yes, next year definitely wear a fancy hat!
    PS Rafiq sounds like a sweet person.

  2. I have attended this event for over 4 years and it is one of my favorites. Such a heartwarming cause to support as we have a fabulous time with our friends in this lovely setting. Book me every year.

  3. Hey Katie,
    Glad you had a great time...and for such a good cause. I was one of the lucky recipients of Wendy's extra tickets last year. It was a girl's afternoon because all the guys were working. So sorry I missed it this year! Looks like all the boys were able to make it. Don't worry, there is plenty of Champagne at the Sky High Tea!
    Anne :)

  4. Mrs. Chatterbox loves High Tea and partakes of the event whenever she can, which is rarely, but it just doesn't do much for me. It seems to be all about manners and food I'm not interested in. I guess I'm just an uncouth bear.

  5. Dear Katie,

    I enjoyed your post and your article in the Loyola magazine. I don't know if you remember me, but I was your sorority sister at Loyola. I am now living in Calistoga, CA, a very small town in the upper Napa Valley. My husband & I were fortunate to visit Morocco last year with some very dear friends - we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. If you would like to contact me, my email is
    Wishing you the best,
    Dariann (Bibbins) Ballina Lopez

  6. You're upright and beautiful!

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    Musandam Dibba

  8. Musandam Dibba is a beautiful place for the families and friends.

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