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What Residing in Abu Dhabi as an Expat is Actually Like


In the present day, the Residing Overseas sequence takes us to the United Arab Emirates the place we meet Jay, a Canadian expat who lives in Abu Dhabi together with her husband, Joe, and their two youngsters. Right here, we discuss in regards to the challenges of studying Arabic, standard snack meals (ever hear of luqaimat?), and the way dwelling in Abu Dhabi has challenged her preliminary assumptions in regards to the Center East.

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

Jay’s background: We moved to Abu Dhabi in August of 2016. from Stavanger, Norway.  Previous to that, we had been in Norway and Gabon. As of late, I’m a full-time mother. However again within the day, I used to be a trainer.  I majored in English and taught center college.  With my youngest now getting into college, I’m engaged on my subsequent steps and hoping to pursue some inventive ambitions.

After dwelling in Norway, Abu Dhabi was a comparatively straightforward transition.  The service trade thrives right here and the inhabitants is 90% expatriates.  Culturally, it has been actually fascinating experiencing the Center East and it has challenged and altered a lot of my preconceived notions.

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like
What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

On the price of dwelling: The UAE is dearer than the US in most regards. That is the place to generate income (there’s no revenue tax) nevertheless it’s additionally the place to spend cash.

On studying Arabic: I discover Arabic extremely tough.  My son learns it in class and distant studying has actually put me to the check. Most everybody speaks English right here so there’s not often a time the place we aren’t understood however I’ve picked up a number of widespread Arabic phrases – khallas [“enough”], inshallah [“God willing”], as-salamu alaykum [“peace be with you”], and alhamdulillah [“praise be to God”].

On Emirati meals: As a result of the overwhelming majority of residents are expatriates and a lot of the eating places are worldwide, Emirati meals is just not significantly widespread.  The origins of many Center Jap dishes are sometimes up for excellent debate however biryani (a rice dish), hummus, and kebabs are widespread and should you’re searching for one thing fascinating, you’ll be able to monitor down a camel burger.  Candy outlets and occasional locations are considerable and sometimes filled with locals in any respect hours of the day. I just like the luqaimat, a deep-fried ball of dough drizzled with date syrup.

On smoking hookah: It’s truly referred to as shisha right here! I feel we did as soon as once we had a pal visiting nevertheless it’s not one thing we hunt down.  There are a lot of shisha bars and cafes although and it’s definitely straightforward to seek out.

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like
What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

On the native vogue: Native ladies in Abu Dhabi normally put on an abaya, typically black however not all the time, with a shayla, a skinny headband. Fancy purses and sneakers are the norm. Males put on a protracted white gown referred to as a kandora typically with a white ghotra, a scarf-like cloth, on the pinnacle. 

In Abu Dhabi, I typically gown extra conservatively than I’d at dwelling. I attempt to hold my shoulders and knees coated once I’m out within the metropolis.  As you spend time right here you understand the place it’s extra accepted to decorate down (worldwide accommodations, sure housing complexes) and the place it’s higher to be extra conservative (the submit workplace, authorities buildings, faculties). That stated, issues have modified lots within the 5 years I’ve been right here. I see ladies gown in all kinds of manners and it’s extra accepted than it was once we first arrived.

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

On elevating youngsters in Abu Dhabi: It’s fascinating being a mother in Abu Dhabi as a result of we stay amongst so many various cultures. My youngsters’s college has over 60 nationalities represented so we see all kinds of households and values. The most important distinction to different locations we’ve lived is the quantity of assist and workers individuals make use of right here.  We’re one of many few households I do know that don’t make use of a full-time nanny. After I take my youngsters to the playground in our neighborhood, I’m typically the one mother amongst the nannies. Additionally, youngsters keep out very late right here! It’s not unusual to see babies strolling the mall or in a restaurant at 10 pm.

On security: Guidelines are strict in Abu Dhabi; it’s such a secure place. We joke that you could depart your pockets on a desk and are available again the subsequent day and it could nonetheless be sitting there. Road harassment is just not a priority. I’ve by no means been harassed nor actually felt unsafe (not together with driving) in my 5 years right here.

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like
What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

On dwelling in Abu Dhabi throughout Covid-19: It has been fascinating and infrequently irritating. Guidelines come laborious and quick and also you don’t dare break them or criticize them.  Abu Dhabi itself has turn into a bubble even throughout the UAE. Different emirates, together with Dubai, have taken a distinct method and we now have a everlasting border between Abu Dhabi and the remainder of the nation the place it’s essential to present a current PCR to cross again into the capital. The UAE had the second-fastest vaccine rollout on the planet – I used to be absolutely vaccinated by the top of February – and has relied closely on intensive testing. I’ve been examined practically 15 occasions simply because it’s essential to enter buildings or return to Abu Dhabi. Actually, there are occasions the place guidelines don’t make sense or I needed restrictions would reduce barely nevertheless it has additionally felt very secure.

On lacking dwelling: We’ve been gone for over 11 years now so there’s not a lot, materialistically talking, that we miss anymore.  However definitely, in mild of the pandemic, we miss our household.  We haven’t been dwelling in two years and it’s laborious not figuring out once we’ll be capable of go to.  I additionally miss recent air. The warmth, humidity, and the sand of the desert simply don’t deliver the crisp, clear air. 

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

On the perfect half about dwelling in Abu Dhabi: I really like the decision to prayer. I really like that I can get completely something delivered. I really like valet parking in all places and delightful accommodations and eating places.

On the worst half: It may be laborious to reconcile that most of the issues I really like about dwelling right here come at a value by way of the service and handbook labor. Persons are not handled equally right here. Additionally, the summer time warmth – it actually appears like dwelling in an oven.

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

On dwelling in Abu Dhabi long-term: We’ve been in Abu Dhabi for 5 years and really feel pretty settled and cozy.  I’d be okay staying for an additional 12 months or two however my husband is beginning to get itchy toes! Covid has positively modified the sport although so it looks as if all the pieces from borders to alternatives are all much more tough.

Thanks, Jay! Your photographs are beautiful.

P.S. The total Residing Overseas sequence and What Residing as an Expat in France is Actually Like.

(Household photographs courtesy of Luma Pictures.)

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