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“Work & Life in Dubai”: Our New Series with Mayowa Adegoke Explores the Lives of Africans in Dubai

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Editor’s note: As the years go by, migrating to other countries has become increasingly popular, particularly for Nigerians (and Africans generally). Japa, we call it. For the next few weeks, Mayowa Adegoke, in partnership with BellaNaija Features, will explore what it means to live in Dubai as an African. We’ll invite Africans to about how they live, work, and deal with social changes in another continent. 

This partnership aims to spotlight successful African immigrants in Dubai, bringing you stories of their everyday lives.

In this conversation, Mayowa shares what it means to live in Dubai, her professional journey and advice to Africans willing to move to Dubai. She is the co-founder of a media and business consulting company, Archgoke Interactive, an international journalist, a conference moderator and MC, a personal brand and public speaking coach, and founder and convener, Road to Success Seminar, Dubai.

We are excited to be launching this partnership with you, Mayowa. How are you feeling today?

Thank you for the collaboration, BellaNaija. I feel okay, and excited about this series.

Great! How has living in Dubai been so far as an African?

Living in Dubai as an African has been quite the journey for me. I feel like my years in Nigeria prepared me for my time in this city – the testing ground for all the ambition and purpose-driven ideals I have nursed for years. Being an African in a city with residents from over 200 countries has opened my eyes to opportunities in situations that many others regard as exclusion. This city is a blank canvas, you do with it what you will as God gives you grace.

We love that metaphor! Tell us about your background and what took you to Dubai

I’ve always been into media, events and entrepreneurship and that’s what I do till present. Moving to Dubai to start a family with my husband who has been living here for a longer period became a springboard for my career and personal brand. Today, I wear multiple hats as co-founder of a media and business consulting company, Archgoke Interactive, international journalist, conference moderator and MC, personal brand and public speaking coach, and founder and convener, Road to Success Seminar Dubai. 

That is quite a lot of hats, well done!

Thank you.

So how does it feel to leave your professional journey back home and search for another in Dubai?

Before my relocation, I was living my best media life working at Channels TV Lagos as a newscaster and presenter of the entertainment news show. Working at Channels had always been a childhood dream and in 2019, I transitioned from Channels Lagos for something more: pioneering Channels TV operations in Dubai. I had seen a gap in Dubai – a lack of any African media presence or representation. I pitched my idea to the visionary leaders of the company, John and Sola Momoh, who entrusted me with the brand name. That’s how I moved to Dubai for love and continued working in the media as a Dubai correspondent. 

One stone, two birds?

You can say, haha.

What were the initial challenges you faced as an African in Dubai?

The biggest challenge was starting from scratch in a new city. When I arrived in Dubai, there was no one doing exactly what I wanted to do, so there was no hand-holding for me. There was no trail to follow; I had to find a path for myself. Of course, this came with a lot of emotional and psychological turmoil. I was in a city where my husband and a few others were the only ones I knew.

However, 5 years down the line now, I’ve built a strong brand that has become a magnet for opportunities, led Channels TV’s operations in Dubai, scored major interviews with global brands, co-founded a company built to serve as a media bridge between the UAE/GCC and Nigeria/Africa, started a community-focused platform serving African immigrants – Road to Success Dubai, launched my speaking career and have become a leading black speaker in the city, launched a personal branding and public speaking service for entrepreneurs and professionals, while raising a son with my husband.

We are super proud of you, Mayowa

Thank you.

Can you share any insights or experiences regarding the job market in Dubai for Africans? 

The job market is highly competitive. You have talents from all over the world – from countries with better advantages competing for the same roles. Africans need to have this in mind when looking at the market in Dubai and across the UAE.

It is safe to say you have settled in alright and become successful in Dubai. What would you consider as special ingredients to your success story?

I cannot deny God’s favour and my husband’s support as well as support from friends and volunteers building the Road to Success platform. 

Comparing lifestyles in Nigeria and Dubai, what changes did you have to make to settle in? 

Anyone with a global mindset will not have any trouble settling down in Dubai. It is important to have the social skills for a multicultural environment, networking is a must and aligning oneself to a community is essential. 

What are the things Africans looking to relocate to your country keep in mind?

The UAE is a unique market and can be a tough nut to crack. It is important to learn as much as possible before moving in. 

What are the little actions Africans in Dubai can adopt to help them thrive?

Africans need to come together to build a strong community. I also believe entrepreneurs and professionals who have achieved higher levels of success should consider actively giving back to the community from their wealth of experience, wisdom and network.

That’s true. What are the top 3 things an African willing to relocate to Dubai should keep in mind? 

Dubai is not cheap. Small-minded people will find it hard to thrive in Dubai. You can start afresh and build up in this city we call the land of opportunities.



Many thanks to Mayowa Adegoke for having this conversation with us and collaborating with us on this series. Catch up with the next episode on Wednesday. Do you want to be featured on BellaNaija or share your essays with us? Shoot us an email: [email protected]

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