Life as an American in the Middle East

Three years ago we were sitting in our small apartment in Tampa, Florida.  We were discussing our upcoming trip out of the country.  It was a huge step, and one that we were nervous about, just as much as excited.

Our first stop, and we hoped it to be a lucrative one, was Dubai.  Yes Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.  When we began letting friends and family know of our plans we heard all the same comments, in a varied manner.

“You’re moving to the Middle East?  Are you crazy?”  “That’s a Muslim country, it will be very dangerous for you as Christians.  Are you crazy?”  “You’ll be beheaded.  Are you crazy?”

As you can tell there was an underlying theme to every comment and question.  “You’ll be in danger and not safe.  Oh and are you crazy?”  Now I’ll be the first to admit that, yes I am indeed a bit crazy.  Perhaps even more so than I’ll admit at times.  However, I wasn’t put off by the questions and comments.  I’ve done some research, and even talked to several people who already lived in that part of the world.

I’ve made friends with a few and they were extremely nice people.  Plus we had a friend connect us with another friend, who resided in the same area.  He had offered to help us when we arrived.  Hey this was great news!  So with hopes in our minds we trudged on.

I did read several things on the internet as well.  I saw more of the same comments about how strict their laws were in the UAE.  However, we are both law-abiding citizens, so that didn’t worry us.  We aren’t the kind that goes out to a bar and causes a bar fight. Even though  had also read that you couldn’t find bars or alcohol in the our soon to be new home.

In the posts that follow, I will share with you the good, bad and ugly of the places we’ve visited.  It won’t all be in one quick little post.  No, I have three years of living to share.  Not only from my perspective, but from my husbands as well.  We both had some of the best experiences, some tough times and even sadness.

Now first off let me tell you I am crappy at planning the timing of events at times.  This being said, I had booked our flight for July.  I didn’t think about it being the hottest, or one of the hottest months.  I didn’t consider that fact that we would be arriving in the middle of Ramadan either.

Ramadan is a Holy Month for the Muslims.  They fast all day long, that means no water, no eating, no smoking, etc.  We didn’t have to do the fast, we are not Muslim.  Though, we had tried the fasting with our friend in the states once.  We both failed miserably.

So we arrive and we are respectful people.  This means that we would not eat or drink outside during the day.  Yes in the middle of July, in hot Dubai!  Brilliant job Christy on the flight choice!

Do you know how hot it is in Dubai, and how much you sweat?  A lot, and you get extremely thirsty if you are out exploring.  Could we have waited until later in the day?  Yes, we could have.  Did we?  Not right away, after the first day out in the heat, we learned.

That first day though we were walking in the heat and I was really hot.  We found a building that had little shops in it, and air conditioning.  Oh joy!  I was so happy, and I saw a store.  I bought some water and was going to go out of sight to drink it.  Remember it is about respecting people.

The cashier looked at me and told me to go to the back of the store.  He could see how much I needed the water.  I thanked him and went in the back out of sight of everyone.  It was a nice gesture by him, especially since he was fasting.

Like I said that day we learned to wait until later in the day to go out.

Next time I’ll talk about our other adventures in Dubai.  Hitting on the taxi driver who seemed to stalk us every time we went out.  The wonderful times, and some of the learning experiences of how to rent a place, and what to look for.

It was a fun time in Dubai, we met many people who were fantastic.  We met some who tried to rip us off, and still we met some life-long friends as well.  Tune in next time for our next adventure!

Oh and one more note, “Ana magnoona!” I am crazy in Arabic!



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