Samir Shahid is the Director of Alloitt Hadi Shahid Chartered Accountants in Dubai. Although he has been based in the UAE since 1979 – he also has a strong connection to Canada. Julie Beeton, Canadian immigration lawyer and managing director of Beeton & Co, Canadian Immigration and Education Advisers sat down with Samir to hear more.
Thanks for your time Samir – can you please let us know a little about you and your business?
I moved to the UAE when I was 6 months old with my parents from Karachi, Pakistan. I have not lived in Pakistan since but I go back to visit frequently.
I am a Certified Public Accountant and studied in both Canada and the US. Alliott group is global alliance of lawyers, chartered accountants and management consultants. There are over 200 offices in 80-90 countries and my offices ( Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Al Ain ) represents the UAE.
Interesting – where did you study in Canada?
I studied for 1 year at Centennial College in Toronto and then completed my Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in the US.
What was it like living in Canada?
When I moved to Canada, it was the first time I lived on my own. My parents came with me for a couple of weeks to help me get settled and after that I was living by myself. It was the first time I had to do things for myself like getting groceries and cook. I ate a lot of muffins and juice during that time when I had not went grocery shopping!
Moving to Canada was a huge learning experience. You need to have the right mindset when you move to be accepting of new things and accept new challenges.
What was your experience like settling into Canadian life?
The Canadian people are really friendly. When I arrived, I stayed in the Holiday Inn hotel opposite my college. I stayed there for 2-3 weeks with my parents until I found an apartment. The people that worked at the hotel were my first friends.
They were so kind that even after I moved out of the hotel, I would sometimes get on the wrong bus or end up in the wrong end of town and I would call the hotel for help. They would always send me a car or personally come pick me up.
Last year, almost 20 years after I met them, I went back to Canada and had a reunion with all of these people! We are still friends to this day.
I always say to my wife “If it wasn’t for these people, I would be totally lost.”
What advice do you have for people who are interested in Canada based in the UAE?
“Canada is a very friendly and attractive country. The people are very nice, friendly and welcoming. Without a doubt would prefer Canada to other countries.”
Thank you to Samir for taking the time to speak with us.