What Living in Abu Dhabi as an Expat is Really Like

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

Now, the Dwelling Overseas series requires us to the United Arab Emirates where we satisfy Jay, a Canadian expat who lives in Abu Dhabi with her spouse, Joe, and their two youngsters. Listed here, we speak about the difficulties of discovering Arabic, well-liked snack meals (ever listen to of luqaimat?), and how dwelling in Abu Dhabi has challenged her preliminary assumptions about the Middle 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.  Prior to that, we experienced been in Norway and Gabon. These days, I’m a comprehensive-time mom. But back again in the working day, I was a trainer.  I majored in English and taught middle college.  With my youngest now moving into faculty, I’m working on my up coming ways and hoping to pursue some artistic ambitions.

Following residing in Norway, Abu Dhabi was a comparatively uncomplicated transition.  The assistance field thrives below and the populace is 90% expatriates.  Culturally, it has been really exciting suffering from the Middle East and it has challenged and modified a lot of 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 tag of residing: The UAE is more high-priced than the US in most regards. This is the place to make revenue (there is no earnings tax) but it’s also the spot to commit dollars.

On studying Arabic: I discover Arabic incredibly challenging.  My son learns it in college and remote learning has seriously put me to the test. Most all people speaks English in this article so there is not often a time the place we are not understood but I have picked up a handful of common Arabic phrases – khallas [“enough”], inshallah [“God willing”], as-salamu alaykum [“peace be with you”], and alhamdulillah [“praise be to God”].

On Emirati food: Simply because the large bulk of citizens are expatriates and most of the dining establishments are worldwide, Emirati foodstuff is not particularly frequent.  The origins of several Center Japanese dishes are usually up for fantastic debate but biryani (a rice dish), hummus, and kebabs are frequent and if you are seeking for some thing interesting, you can track down a camel burger.  Sweet shops and espresso locations are ample and frequently total of locals at all hours of the day. I like the luqaimat, a deep-fried ball of dough drizzled with date syrup.

On using tobacco hookah: It is in fact referred to as shisha in this article! I assume we did as soon as when we had a close friend traveling to but it is not anything we seek out.  There are lots of shisha bars and cafes however and it is absolutely simple to uncover.

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

On the area trend: Local girls in Abu Dhabi usually put on an abaya, normally black but not always, with a shayla, a skinny headscarf. Extravagant handbags and sneakers are the norm. Adult men don a extensive white gown referred to as a kandora typically with a white ghotra, a scarf-like material, on the head. 

In Abu Dhabi, I commonly gown a lot more conservatively than I would at dwelling. I try to continue to keep my shoulders and knees covered when I’m out in the metropolis.  As you shell out time here you notice where by it is more acknowledged to costume down (global accommodations, particular housing complexes) and exactly where it’s much better to be far more conservative (the put up office, government structures, educational facilities). That mentioned, factors have transformed a lot in the 5 years I have been in this article. I see girls gown in all sorts of manners and it is a lot more accepted than it was when we to start with arrived.

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

On increasing little ones in Abu Dhabi: It is interesting currently being a mother in Abu Dhabi for the reason that we are living among so numerous unique cultures. My children’s school has in excess of 60 nationalities represented so we see a huge selection of family members and values. The most significant contrast to other spots we’ve lived is the volume of aid and employees people today hire in this article.  We are just one of the several people I know that do not utilize a complete-time nanny. When I just take my little ones to the playground in our community, I’m usually the only mother amongst the nannies. Also, youngsters stay out very late here! It is not unheard of to see tiny kids strolling the shopping mall or in a cafe at 10 pm.

On security: Guidelines are strict in Abu Dhabi it is these a secure put. We joke that you can depart your wallet on a table and arrive back the upcoming day and it would nevertheless be sitting there. Road harassment is not a concern. I have under no circumstances been harassed nor truly felt unsafe (not including driving) in my 5 decades listed here.

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

On residing in Abu Dhabi throughout Covid-19: It has been exciting and from time to time disheartening. Regulations arrive tough and quickly and you really do not dare split them or criticize them.  Abu Dhabi alone has come to be a bubble even inside of the UAE. Other emirates, together with Dubai, have taken a different method and we now have a long term border between Abu Dhabi and the rest of the nation where you ought to present a new PCR to cross back into the cash. The UAE had the second-swiftest vaccine rollout in the earth – I was thoroughly vaccinated by the conclusion of February – and has relied seriously on in depth testing. I’ve been tested practically 15 situations just since it is required to enter properties or return to Abu Dhabi. Undoubtedly, there are situations exactly where principles really don’t make sense or I wished limitations would reduce a little bit but it has also felt really protected.

On lacking residence: We have been absent for in excess of 11 a long time now so there is not a great deal, materialistically speaking, that we miss anymore.  But undoubtedly, in gentle of the pandemic, we overlook our spouse and children.  We haven’t been household in two many years and it’s really hard not understanding when we’ll be equipped to stop by.  I also miss out on fresh air. The heat, humidity, and the sand of the desert just do not bring the crisp, clean up air. 

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

On the most effective component about residing in Abu Dhabi: I love the simply call to prayer. I enjoy that I can get unquestionably just about anything shipped. I appreciate valet parking in all places and attractive motels and dining establishments.

On the worst component: It can be hard to reconcile that quite a few of the things I enjoy about residing right here appear at a expense in conditions of the company and handbook labor. Individuals are not handled similarly listed here. Also, the summer heat – it pretty much feels like residing in an oven.

What living in Abu Dhabi as an expat is really like

On dwelling in Abu Dhabi extended-time period: We’ve been in Abu Dhabi for five many years and come to feel rather settled and at ease.  I’d be alright staying for one more 12 months or two but my husband is setting up to get itchy feet! Covid has surely adjusted the recreation though so it appears like anything from borders to prospects are all a ton additional tough.

Many thanks, Jay! Your shots are stunning.

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

(Loved ones shots courtesy of Luma Images.)

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