Money & Me: From 10-bed Canadian mansion to 1-bed in Dubai for PR partner

Samantha Sabah is the co-founder and managing partner of Le Pear Societe, a Dubai-based public relations and social media agency that launched in 2013. The Canadian, 31, is also involved in the automotive website, through which she was invited by Jaguar Land Rover to take part in the America’s Cup. She moved to the UAE in 2005.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I grew up in a 10-bedroom mansion where breakfast catered to our individual tastes and dinner came with a minimum of five or six courses. By the time I had showered each morning, my bed was made and my clothes were ironed and placed in my changing room next to the walk-in closet. Nonetheless my family were strict and discipline, education and honest income were the watchwords. Our parents made our lives very comfortable but waste was forbidden – whether it was a glass of water, a plate of food or leaving the tap or the bathroom light on. There was a lot of recycling and charity was a must. But I somehow never bothered to get my head around the value of money. Then I moved to Dubai on my own, which turned my life upside-down. My parents never approved my move to Dubai so I was left with nothing. How easy everything seemed back home and how hard it was to make a decent income pay for a one-bedroom apartment, a small car and regular bills.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

My first real job was in Vancouver. I got a job at KFC. The minimum salary at that time was around C$7.50 Canadian (Dh22) per hour. All was going well until they asked me to clean the toilets. I quit on the spot. It’s shocking how much Dubai has taught me and how spoilt I used to be.

Are you spender or saver?

Both. I like to help out when my friends are in need. Otherwise I’m careful with my money. But then again I have my moments … these days the stresses of everyday life push me to be more of a spender.

What is your most cherished purchase, how much was it?

My first car. I bought it at 17 for C$980, it was a used Honda Accord. I decided to be the first of my siblings to buy a car with my own money. It gave me a sense of freedom and the responsibility shaped my approach to life.

Have you ever had a month where you feared you could not pay the bills?

Back in the day a lot of the so-called friends I trusted work-wise betrayed me. It came to a point where whatever money I had to my name was in my wallet. During the tough times rent and food was the only focus.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

Cash whenever possible because I don’t like debts. Life is temporary, you never know when it’s time to go. One thing I don’t want to leave behind is debt – big or small.

What has been your best investment?

My first was buying that plane ticket to Dubai. The other has been my team. A great team can overcome any odds in the corporate struggle. I invest a lot of time in team bonding.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

I would buy some shares in IT companies which have since gone through the roof. Apple stocks would have been a great bargain if I’d bought them before moving to Dubai.

Do you have a plan for the future?

Find a good husband and make some babies. I also want to devote some time and money to expanding my brand.

If you won Dh1m, what would you do with it?

I would spend it on myself, at least a little, and then I would treat the labourers who work so hard building these skyscrapers and lovely hotels. I would take them for dinner and give them a taste of their own creation.

What would you raid your savings account for?

Shoes, I can’t get enough of shoes.

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