Life in the UAE and random other crap

I need to start by stating that my sign in page is completely in Arabic now and I am pretty sure I flagged my own blog as having offensive material on it because I have no idea how to read Arabic.

This is just random crap that is spewing out of my brain. It makes no sense, but that’s how my brain works:

That said, I thought I would like write a note about life here. It is a question I get all the time:
“How do you like living in the Middle East?” “What’s it like?” as well as various other questions about if I have to cover and can I drive….. Seems I have talked about those things before……

HHHMMM…… I never know how to answer these questions because my brain has a tendency to be a bit of a smart ass (or is that my mouth?) and the first thing that usually pops in my mind is “Living in the Middle East is no different than living in any state away from your family and it is like living in Arizona in the summer, only the local men wear white dresses and the women wear black dresses.” Then when I think about it, it is true. It really is not different than living anywhere that is away from your family. Not for me at least.

We are a bit spoiled here in the UAE because it is very open and not restrictive here. I am sure if we lived in Saudi (where they banned Valentines day) I would have a different attitude. But maybe not. I am a very open person and deal well with change. I adapt and basically get on with life as I need it to be.

My life in the US consisted of getting the kids to school then staying home to clean, cook and be generally bored. We didn’t have enough money for me to do anything other than volunteer at the school in addition, I couldn’t find a job because my degree scared employers into thinking they couldn’t afford to pay me. I had one friend. She was very negative. My other friends lived in other states so I had no support net.

Here, my life consists of getting the kids to school, then I go to a job that I LOVE and spend the day with an office full of people that are creative and happy. My kids have friends who they adore and my husband is home every day at 2:30! I have a group of girlfriends who are wonderful and who I spend time with.

My every day life is very much the same as it would have been in the USA. The big difference here is our house, and our income. The interesting part of life here is when we go out in town and try to do or find things we are used to at home. This is the part of life here that frustrates the hell out of me and sometimes drives me to screaming fits in my car in the parking lot.

The things like standing in line at McDonald’s. The locals (and the expats who have lived here too long) have NO CLUE what a line is. The other thing that irritates me is the constant line cutting and the complete disregard for others that the women especially show. Driving here is also an exercise in patience. I thought learning to drive on the busy freeways of Houston was difficult……. Learning to drive here is taking your life into your own hands. No common sense at all. Who the heck drives down the WRONG SIDE OF THE FREAKING STREET just to avoid having to do a “U” turn???? I mean, REALLY!

The part that is nothing like home here and never will be is the landscape. This is actually the part that drives me to tears a lot of the times. It is just plain hot. On top of it being hot, it is dusty. Yes, I know we are in the middle of the desert, but the sand everywhere is really depressing to me. It often feels like I live in the middle of a dust bowl. I do love the look of the sand and think the desert is beautiful, but when you come from a place that is lush and green and nature is free to run amuck, the sand and trees planted in perfect lines gets a little (or a lot) boring.

The only other thing that really irritates me about living here is the stares. Everyone stares at me. Men, women, children…..they all stare at me. Why? I don’t know. The worker men though…..Oh my goodness……There are times when i feel like giving them the one finger salute. I never would (not even at home), but something needs to be done about this. I witnessed one of these men literally fall over his own foot because he was staring at a group of three teenagers (of Middle Eastern descent) greeting each other hello. It was disgusting.

You know, there are things that happen here (or don’t happen here) that are the same things that happen all over the world. You hear about people being taken out into the desert and things happening to them, but that happens in the USA. As a western woman, I feel extremely safe here. I am not scared to walk in the evenings alone, I have never had that feeling of panic when I am alone in a parking garage and a man is walking toward me. I have never had that fear that I must lock my car door as soon as I get in the vehicle to prevent someone trying to pull me out and steel my car.

I have to have a letter from my sponsor to get a bank account, buy a car, have a cell phone, work, etc…. It so happens that my sponsor is my husband, but if my sponsor were my work, then the letter would need to be from my work so it has nothing to do with my husband being dominant. I don’t shake hands with people anymore because it is forbidden for a man to touch any woman besides his wife. That is fine by me. I don’t usually care for shaking hands anyway. I am typically ignored by my husband’s local friends when we meet in a public place. Well that kind of bothers me, but still, it is not really that important to me either because I know they still see me and will remember the kids and me the next day when they ask about our family.

I get irritated at the ignorance and the lack of education I see here. I also get a huge kick out of the willingness of the Locals to share their stories.

I think there are days that I could never imagine living anywhere else but there are also days where I am ready to say “to hell with this” and catch the first flight to the US. The thing is, I felt the same way when we lived in New Mexico or Oklahoma. you have your good days and you have your bad days. What is important is the people you spend your days with. My family is here, so this is where I need to be. I have great friends here and we all support each other on those bad days. I miss my friends in the states, but I missed them while I lived there too.

Life is what you make of it. If you come here and find that you can’t deal with it, then leave. If you come here and use the opportunity to learn and make friends (outside of your own nationality) and you explore and understand that you must be patient, then things will be ok here. it can be lonely and painfully isolating at times, but friends help ease that pain. I often remember back to when I was a stay-at-home mom in Roswell, NM and remember the terrible feelings of isolation I had there. It is better here. Given the choice between there and here, I choose here.

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4 thoughts on “Life in the UAE and random other crap

  1. It is a hard question to answer. We’re likely moving back this coming August, so I plan to keep a photo blog…I think family and friends have a hard time getting their heads around what it’s really like. My mother still worries about me in that part of the world, despite me spending 5 years there already.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog. My brother and his family are living in the UAE and are coming home soon. I have missed them terribly. Your post really hit home to me about their struggles this past year. Thank you very much for sharing. I love your sense of humor and honesty!

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  3. I've been considering leaving a comment on your blog while I read through your posts today. It wasn't until I read this post that I decided I had to comment! There is a small possibility that my husband might accept a job in a flight school in Al Ain. I'm researching Al Ain now to see if it is a good fit us. He's Spanish and I'm American (from South Texas). We live in really-rural China at the moment. I spent my high school years in Kuwait and have been trying to get back to the Middle East ever since. I really, really, really loved it there. Don't know if I can find a job, I'm in my last semester of librarian school, I'm also a registered nurse and have a BS in Spanish… we'll see.Anyway, it seems we have a few things in common (well okay, maybe just that we're from Texas and have redhair) and I really have enjoyed reading your posts. Just enough attitude and snarkiness to keep me reading. I just wanted to make contact in case we actually do end up in Al Ain. I'm not afraid of the Middle East, I know how things work, I understand the culture, but I do love to have contacts before moving to a new place. Hope you're enjoying the States! I just got back from Houston and damn was it hot & humid.

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