On the UAE and Such

It’s been half a year since I set foot into Dubai Airport, carrying 2 overweight suitcases, and 2 hand bags, filled with the remnants of a scrubbed-off past life; books, my favorite DVDs, comics, random collectible toys, Zalatimo sweets, summery adornments, a brown envelope of stamped papers and certificates that define the person I am. I wore a ridiculously out-of-place leather jacket, a scarf wrapped around my neck and winter boots which would be perfectly fine in a jump across the hemisphere.

I stood in line, behind hundreds of people queuing to get their passports stamped; black, white, yellow, short, tall, thin, fat, men, women, beautiful, ugly, sleepy, tired, laughing, smiling, Arabs, Iranians, Russians, Asians, Indians, Brits, Africans. I was awed by the sheer amount of people, and how they all waited patiently in line, tapping their feet, listening to their iPods, holding hands, waiting to pass the gates, beckoning to the unknown.

When it was finally my turn, I approached with a smile. An Emarati officer bid me where my visa is. I confidently displayed the fat, brown envelope I tugged around containing all my important papers. I removed a printed, black and white copy of my work visa with a wacky smile on my face, like a knight unsheathing his sword. He brushed me off, and politely asked me to pick up the original copy from downstairs. I raced downstairs my handbags beating against my waist where I gave them my name; Sami.

And there was actually a pink visa waiting for me top of the pile, regardless of my cynicism. I rushed up, queued again, stamped, walked out to the stifling heat, waved to my receiving relative who completely ignored me expecting that I was still the teenager that he last saw.

So, I’ve been pondering this post in my head since, in my inner-duologues, and private thoughts, I have finally found the opportunity to put it into a written format.

And even though there is a lot of bashing going on for Dubai; the rent prices, paranoiac dangers of deportation, SALIK, traffic jams and others, nonetheless, I always give praise freely and unconditionally when it is due.

(This is not a kissing-ass post for any body, nor is there a gun pointed to my head telling me to write lavish poems; I am expressing myself freely with no strings attached just as I like to.)

This country has made us feel at home more than home itself. The people themselves are warm, hospitable and beautiful. The government officials are always smiling, willing to share a joke or two, helpful and eternally-patient. I remember at the airport when I came back from a business trip, the Passport Control Emarati looked at my passport and said “Welcome back, Abu-Nasab (brother-in-law)” referring to the marriage of Princess Haya of Jordan to Sheikh Mohammed. I was about to jump and give the dude a hug, but I was too tired to do so since the plane arrived at 4 in the morning.

Not to mention national security reasons.

Not so far away, expats are treated very differently. Trust me, I know.

So on behalf of me, Sami, Jordanian, Arab and all expats in the UAE..

Thanks :)


Summer said...

nice read. glad you feel at home there!

sara said...

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatuHu..

Well, I've been reading your "inner-duologues and private thoughts" for quiet some time now.. And I've been extremely impressed by the way you think of things around you & the reactions you take..

I was born here.. Born & bred.. I'm an egyptian born with that green passport.. *sigh* Oh, a lot to be said on that.. Wish I had the ability like you to express it all the way you do.. MashaAllah tabaarakaAllah.. Please do take hold of this gift & don't take it for granted..

WOW! I can't believe that in only 6 months you've understood almost everything!! Some people get deluded so fast & sweet talk & suck up.. And others do the opposite & hate everything.. And become ungrateful..

I just wanna say that i BELIEVE THAT YOU GOT IT..
"Not so far away, expats are treated very differently. Trust me, I know." I REALLY believe you do..

May Allah guide you in all you do & lighten your way throughout this life.. And us all.. Amen

With respect,

nzm said...

What goes around, comes around EiD - Jordanians are amongst the friendliest people on this planet, so when you're around, it must affect all around you!

rosh said...

Awwww this is a soulful post. UAE will always be special to me - not just because, my brothers & I were born and raised there or because my parents have lived in the UAE close to 40years - but because the country has a *soul* - a caring soul, which you shall see if you give it a chance. I connect with that soul, you can find it in the desert, in Dibba Khorfakkah or the mountains of Fujairah. I've never felt like that anywhere else - and I've been to a fair share of places.

There is the good and the bad in all baskets - Emi's generally are nice folks.

Moving to any new place has it's challenges - it's our ability to adapt to the ways of working in the new city that helps the settling process. The beginning may often be a bit rough - but once you give it time & some effort, the ride gets easier. I just echo Sara - "Please do take hold of this gift & don't take it for granted."

rosh said...

Oh forgot to add - good luck & lotsa prayers for continued success Sami - take care :)

sel3 said...

I couldn't agree more Sami, Dubai is nice and I like it here too. good luck.

wonders said...

a round of applause for Dubai...

Psssst Sami, how much did they pay you?? :)

KJ said...

hihihihi Sami, you are right, despite the traffic and rent and prices and petrol and salik and everything in between, in the end the city is really a great place to live in, despite all the hardships I faced. But it made me proud and self confident and for that I owe it.

It is like a marriage, really... there are flaws in both but you have to accept and work from there

CG said...

Very nice post. Glad you feel at home here, it makes a change from all the moaning. If the new law goes into place (see uaecommunity) then you better not get too settled, a cap of 6 years will mean not many will want to lay down their hats.

rosh said...

This new "law" isn't too new - I recall there was talk of this several years back - enough to give many heartburn :) I don't think it's gonna happen, not in the next 50 years.

Expated in Dubai said...

@Summer, thanks, and yes I do feel at home..
@Sara, thanks for the kind words and prayers. I'll keep your request in mind :)
@nzm, thanks for the insinuated compliment, and even though I heard a lot of stereotypes, but Jordanians being friendly is honestly a first :)
@rosh, thanks
@sel3, thanks and good luck to you too..
@wonders, you naughty thing you! They paid me 5000 in Monopoly money and coupons to Dubai Land, but that's a secret which I know you're good at keeping ;)
@kj, marriage?? And the award for worst metaphor of the year goes to *drum roll*..
@CG, I'm not worried, since we're brothers in law, a phone call away exempts me from such frivolities. I'm joking. Or am I? :)
@rosh, yeah I agree that it's some media stunt on behalf of the Bahraini Labour Minister who must have been really bored at the office.."What the Hell? Let me draft a rule that'll change the lives of millions of people, that oughta be fun"

david santos said...

Expated, My friend,

You help to me to fight it the abduction of children in the whole world.
Thank you

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