American Family in Abu Dhabi

Not doing a good job of keeping up
mynazzal
The girls were invited to a bday party for M's son at Action Zone.  Action Zone is similar to something like Snappers.  There must have been 50 kids at the party.  It was total madness but the girls had a good time.  I met M's sister who live in Al Ain (about an hour away).  She was really nice and intelligent.
I paid a couple visits to CC the place of my future employment.  InshAllah (which means god willing and is used frequently here).  I say this because who knows when I will start working (only God).  There is tons of paperwork to be done before working here.
I found an American Trained Pediatric Dentist for the kids.  YEAH.  Hannah had a cavity.
My husband took a 3 night trip to Jordan to visit some family.  He had not seen them in over 15 years.  I actually met them 3 years ago when I took a trip to Jordan with my sister-in-law.
Me and the girls spent the day with our friend from Indy L.  L is living in AD with her kids.  Her husband has stayed back in Indy because he has not been able to find a job here yet.  She has 3 kids.  We knew them in Indy but were not that close.  Now that we are both living here we have become closer.  I am hoping her husband will find a job soon so she won't leave.
We also had a visitor G.  Here daughter goes to school with my kids.  She is from Turkey but if you met her you would think she is American.  She studied in American school in Saudi and went on to do her masters in America.  She married a Saudi national whom she met in America but is now divorced.  She lives in our neighborhood. 
Also sat with N a few times.  She has lots of interesting stories.  Her mom was Indian and got married to a Bahrainen.  She was a teenager when she married the 50 year old man.  She had six kids by him.  He later died from cancer but she stayed in Bahrain to raise her kids.  N has no desire to live there and can't wait to go back to Germany where her husband is from.  I believe she enjoys the freedom of her lifestyle.  Two of her sisters are divorced.  One was married to a Saudi and the other to a Bahrain man.  One of her brothers whom she doesn't like so much has 2 wives.  She really adores her younger brother.  She is excited that he is coming to visit this week.  Her husband and brother are attending the Metallica concert.
BTW I won 2 tickets to the Brittany Spears concert :)  I haven't recieved them yet so will see if it comes true.
New peeps from the park
J is Iraqi.  She is a doctor and works full time.  She has 2 daughters.
A is pakistani.  She married at 17 and did not finish high school.  Her kids also go to my kids school.
S is morracan.  She is married to an emrati and has 3 daughters.
I am finding it difficult to keep up with all the people I meet.  Anyway thats why I am writing about them.  It will be interesting to see if any relationships are formed from the people I meet from all over the world. 
Sorry for spelling errors but I am to lazy to do spell check.  Until next time.

At the park
mynazzal
At the neighborhood park you are likely to meet people from countries you have never heard of:
1.  N is a muslim lady from Bahrain.  She is married to a man from Germany.  They have a son and he is 5 and speaks English, Arabic and Dutch.  This amazes me.  Most kids in this country speak at least 2 languages if not more.  English is the primary language in school.  Then come Arabic and French.  Although you will find many other languages are taught depending on where your children go to school.  Another amazing thing is that in Islam a muslim woman is not aloud to marry a non-muslim.  So this woman I can imagine faced many challenges in her life.  She tells me that her husband had to convert to islam and take classes in order to get married to her.  Now she claims that she doesn't care what religion he follows and it does not seem he follows islam strictly.  Does not wear hijab.
2.  M is from some stan country (not sure which one but not pakistan).  Her family is muslim also but her husband is from the Netherlands.  Again a muslim woman marrying a non-muslim.  She says it was not as difficult for her as her country has many Christians and is therefore more relaxed in the religion.  She has a daughter.  Does not wear hijab.
3.  I is from the Chec Republic (don't know how to spell :)).  She is married to a Jordanian and they have a daughter.  Her and her husband met in Qatar where they both worked.
4.  G is from Turkey.  She has a daughter who is in Layla's class at school.  She was married to a Saudi but is now divorced.
5.  A is from Morroco and married to an Egyptian.  They are muslim and have 2 sons.  Does not wear hijab.
I really look forward to learning more about these ladies lives.  Interesting.

Coffee Group
mynazzal
So I had coffee with some ladies at Costa Coffee today.  A few I know well.  Some I have met before and some I have not met before.
My friend R was there of course.  She is the one who set up this whole coffee thing about a year ago for mostly Americans married to muslims but others tag along as well.
I invited a friend M that has been feeling down lately.  M's husband works with my husband and they have 2 little sons.  They are both pharmacists.  They are an egyptian family and I suppose they are here in order to make more money to raise their children.  They previously lived in Australia.  M has a strong british accent and it would be hard for the average american to guess her origin because of this.  We (I mean as her family and ours) starting hanging out about a year ago.  Mostly we would meet for barbeque's in the park.  Now I really believe in chemistry even between friends.  With M I did not feel initially that we would become good friends.  The things that she talked about did not really interest me and really bored me.  I have noticed that when I talk to egyptians they are really into talking about their families and to me it seems they are trying so hard to make them the picture perfect family  (learning not to stereotype).  I guess americans may do this to but I am more used to being around people who share the good and bad.  But now that I have had the chance to get to know her I am really starting to like her more and more.
L is an American (convert to islam) married to a syrian that she met in America.  They have 3 sons.  L says she was searching for a religion because was unhappy with Christianity.  She says that she was drinking a lot and going out and she was not happy in her life.  Her parents are protestants.  She says she researched many other religions before meeting her husband and then choosing Islam.  She wears hijab and seems to be content in her religion.
J is born to an American mom and Pakistani father so has been muslim since birth.  She has never lived in a country for more than 2 years.  She was born in Libya, has lived in America, Pakistan and many other places that I can't recall.  She is married to a palestinian.  They have 2 children.  They don't have TV's in their home.  She wears hijab and seems content with her religion.
Another J is American.  She says she became muslim on her own will after 9/11.  She was in college and she said she couldn't believe all the bad things she was hearing about muslims and decided to research it on her own.  So supposedly she became muslim before she met her husband.  Her husband is from Sri Lanka.  They have a son and daughter.  She wears hijab and seems content in her religion.
S was a newcomer to the group.  Has 2 kids.  Originally from Bangladesh but raised in UK.  That's about all I learned about her.
H also a newcomer.  Is full Syrian.
And I will mention S who is no longer in the group as she moved to Jordan.  S was a friend of R back in Ohio.  I believe her and her husband are of palestianian descent.  They have 5 or 6 kids.  I really enjoyed meeting her and found her to be really friendly.  Since she lived in America for many years we had things in common to talk about.  She always says how much she loves America and she wants to go back.  As with most muslims I know I am sure she is worried for her kids to become mixed up with the wrong crowd (drugs, sex and alcohol).

I am back :)
mynazzal
Well I was never really gone.  I had to read my last post to see where I left off.  So in March me and my husband took our pharmacy exam and passed YEAH.  Took an oral arabic exam and failed sometime in May :(.  Then they canceled it so I soon will be officially licensed and hopefully working by early next year.  What a journey that was.  We spent 2 months in America this summer.  It was an awesome trip.  It was so nice to spend time with the family and friends and have the luxuries of America.  Something I have learned here is that Americans really take for granite all the luxuries we have.  It was also exhausting being out of our home.  When we returned to Abu Dhabi we were in our new villa.  Now it is no American luxury but it is nice and peaceful compared to the city living.  We now live in a neighborhood.  We have a park, pool, gym, tennis courts and best of all we have parking spaces that we don't have to pay for.  Now along with it comes some negatives such as more driving but so far it is worth it.  I have also had the opportunity to meet more people and so I have decided that I will record my memories of everyone I meet here so I will not forget the people.  For their privacy I will call them by the first letter of their name. 
I will start with the first one which is A.  A is married to N and has 2 daughters.  A and her family is an American family from the same state has us and was the first to be my friend in Abu Dhabi.  I met her through Hannah and Layla's friend at school back home.  A's step sister lives behind their friend and so that is how we connected.  A was staying in the city very close to us so we met a few times.  Then she moved out to the villas where I am now living.  A has been and awesome person to get to know.  They came here for her husbands work which is an American construction company.  A is a stay at home mom here so we have spent many hours on the phone talking about our issues here, our families and America.  When I returned from the US I learned that they may be moving home which I was definetly not ready for.  It turned out they got to stay longer but moved to Dubai.  So I haven't had the chance to see her since May but we still talk on the phone almost daily and she really has been a great help to me. 
Through my husbands work I have had the opportunity to meet some pharmacist ladies.  M has also been a great support for me.  She has 2 daughters and a son.  Their family is Palestinian but as many Palestinian were raised in Jordan.  I suppose they are here to have a better opportunity at raising their children.  The income in Jordan is very low compared to here.  She is such a sweet, hard working, intelligent lady.  My kids really enjoy playing with here kids.  It seemed that whenever I was feeling down in the beginning of my journey here she would call me and say lets take the kids out.  I shed some tears in front of her a couple times and I never felt she has judged me since the day I met her.   Since she works full time she has a live in maid.  This is very common for working mothers here.  Since this is something I am not used to I have found it interesting.  I also found it nice that she is muslim and working full time.  During my trip to Jordan a few years back it seemed that most (not all) women are stay at home moms. 
Another friend I have made is R.  R's husband is a doctor at my husband's work.  He is egyptian and his wife is an american (convert to islam). K the husband went to medical school in the US and met his wife R through work.  She is a nurse.  They have a daughter and son.  They came in order for their kids the experience of growing up in an arab islamic country.  They are many years older than us but none the less young at heart.  R has also been a great friend to me and K has been a great friend to my husband.  I know he enjoys being able to work with someone who came from the US.  The healthcare system here is way behind the US so they share their frustrations together. 
Ok so these are the three ladies that I keep in contact with the most.  I have met so many others and will write about them soon.  It seems that just when I thought people think I must be weird for marrying an arab muslim man I have came to a place full of amazing stories.  It has been a great experience that I will never regret (the marriage and the move to AD).  

Its been a while!
mynazzal
It has been  a while since I wrote and I can explain why.  First of all not much went on in Jan.  My husbands mom came to visit us the month of Feb and his aunt came from Jordan for 2 weeks in this same time frame.  It was the busiest month I have had here and it flew by.  My mother in law and his aunt used to live here so they know a lot of people.  We literally spent almost everyday having company in our house or visiting someone they knew.  Most of the people are distant relatives and some just friends.  It was very nice to meet them all but also very exhausting.  After they left me and my husband began to study for our pharmacy test that we have to take in order to get a pharmacy license here.  Are test is in 2 days and we are officially sick of studying.  The kids are going crazy because we have not been taking them out.  They are so excited for us to be done.  Which brings me to the main reason I wanted to post.
Sometime when we got to Abu Dhabi my daughter Hannah told me Mommy you know you can't lie to me and I said yes.  Then she asked me if the tooth fairy was real.  I really didn't want to tell her the truth and so I didn't.  So a few weeks ago Layla lost a tooth and she asked me the same question.  So I finally broke the news to Hannah and Layla that there was no tooth fairly.  I told them that I would let them be a tooth fairy for Maya (like the movie Tooth Fairy) if they didn't tell here.  So far they have kept their word.  I was reminded of this today since it is St. Patricks Day.  H & L were discussing when the leprechauns came to visit their classroom in kindergarten.  They left out gold candies for them and the leprecauns came and turned the classroom upside down.  The girls really believed in them but now they know they are not real.  I feel sad to see them grow up so fast but also happy to know that I have two little girls to help me fuel Maya's imagination.  Although they fight with here they are also very good at playing with her and teaching here.  Maya is such a character.  She has a big imagination,  she loves to draw.  The moment she gets home from school she starts drawing.   She also likes to play with barbies and right now she is really into little plastic animals.  Hannah and Layla are getting into reading chapter books more now.  I find them reading without me even telling them to do it.  They have also became very crafty.  They make things out of just about anything (beads, string, popsicle sticks, yarn).
Well off to study.

What have we been up to?
mynazzal

Well after my brother-in-law left we took a day trip to Al Ain.  It is about 1.5 hours away from us.  We went to take the kids to the zoo there.  It was very hot and most of the animals were trying to sleep in the shade.  Somehow I always manage to go to zoo's when it's to hot.  We then headed up to Jebel Hafeet which is the second tallest mountain in the UAE.  It is a very nice drive and very beautiful.  We had dinner at the hotel on top and decided that we would come back and spend the night on another day.

We spent another day visiting some sights in Abu Dhabi.  The first was Heritage Village.  This is supposed to be a place that explains the culture of the place.  We spent less than 30 minutes there.  They were a nice 30 minutes though.  They had some live animals that the girls enjoyed seeing and petting.  They showed how the people lived here in the old days and there were a few shops selling traditional souvenirs.  There was a restaurant also but we decided to go somewhere else to eat.  We ate at  Havana cafe.  We enjoyed it.  The service wasn't to great but have found that it is not in a lot of places here.  The food was really good and inexpensive.  We ate outside overlooking the corniche (the beach) and the girls played at the playground they had while we waited for our food.

We also went to Atlantis in Dubai.  They have an awesome waterpark, indoor aquariums, and great food.  The girls had a really good time and we would have loved to stay longer but 1 night cost us around 3000 dirhams ($800). 

Thanksgiving was around the corner and I had this great idea that we were still going to have Thanksgiving even if we were alone.  Then I started thinking why am I going to make all this food and let it go to waste so we ordered Italian take out.  I had the girls draw pictures of turkeys for their grandma to post on fb and we talked about what we were thankful for.    Hannah and Layla knew all the right things to say but Maya was only thankful for her toys and her cat Roxy (who lives at grandma's house now).  Later on I skyped with my mom while she had everyone over for Thanksgiving.  It was nice to see everyone together and having fun.  I was secretly worried that they might not all get together because I knew my mom was depressed about me not being there.

After Thanksgiving we headed back to Al Ain to stay at the Mecure Jebel Hafeet hotel.  We took the girls to swim for most of the day, had a lunch buffet overlooking the beautiful mountain view and then headed to our room to clean up.  When we headed back outside we discovered how cold it became.  We spent the rest of the night relaxing in our room watching cartoons and American news (that was a highlight since my American news comes from yahoo and msn now).  The next day it was so cold I felt like I was back in Indy.  I did not miss the coldness and we were ready to escape the mountain as quickly as possible.  We left the hotel at 10:30 and check-out time wasn't until 12:00.  I don't believe that has ever happened to us.  So on the way home:   My wonderful husband had been driving me nuts to do some dune driving and although he knew of my real thoughts on the situation I told him go ahead but when we get stuck you will go and find someone to get us out.  So he pulls into the sand with a big grin on his face and what happens.  He gets stuck.  It takes him a little time but he gets us out and finally I think it sinks in that he needs to take some lessons or go out with someone a little more experienced than me.

Had to pay the doctor a visit this week and boy was that an experience.  I had been to this same place for my daughter and the experience was good.  This was a different story.  This place makes my doctors, that I complained about back home, look like they are the best.  I was really really sick for a couple days.  My husband has been great at taking care of me and the girls have been so kind and helpful. 

Today is the National holiday here.  This country became the UAE 39 years ago.  It is hard to believe that it is only 6 years older than me.  Its hard to imagine what it must have been like when my husband grew up here.  Since we live next to the Corniche where the biggest partying goes on we decided to walk over and see the action.  I had never seen the parks and streets so full.  The Emiraties have their cars all decked out with their flag colors, teddy bears tied down and pictures of the Sheiks.  They were spraying silly string everywhere and the girls got to join in on the fun.  It was exciting to watch.  We saw a man with a sponge wrapped around him and somehow secured to the hood of a car with his friends driving him around.  We saw a lot of other crazy dangerous things.  It is no wonder the number one cause of death here is from a car accident.  They have lights up everywhere (skyscrapers, palms trees, light poles).  Horns are honking.  Engines are reving up.  People are whistling.  Fireworks are going off.  The police are out in full force.  I am wondering how the kids and husband are sleeping through it.  Also wondering how many people die tonight in car accidents.

Although it is their holiday time here (It is also the New Year for the muslim calender) I find things to remind me of Christmas everywhere.  There was a Christmas tree at the doctors office.  Took the kids to the mall today and the toy store was playing Christmas music and wrapping presents with Christmas wrapping paper. Have to admit that this was making me quite sad to be away from my family (brought a tear to my eye).  Christmas trees are popping up everywhere.   They even give the school 2 weeks off in honor Christmas for many of the teachers are Christians.  Have to commend them for this because our schools back home don't give everyone the day off for muslim and jewish holidays. 

Which brings me to a whole other subject.  The kids have way to many holidays from school here.  Don't get me wrong I love having the extra time with them but I have started to enjoy having a little free time to myself.  I finally applied to get my pharmacy license here.  Don't know where it will take me but it was on my checklist of things to do.  My to do list has shrunk since I moved here and so there are only five things (minus 1 now) that I would like to do for myself.  Which is actually a relief.  I always felt like I had a million things to do back home and never enough time to get them done.

The girls brought home their report cards this week.  Hannah and Layla came home with scores of 98% or higher.  Their teacher has started giving them extra homework and reading as we have both determined that they are at a higher level in English and Math.  Maya receives a number scale 1-4 with one being the best.  She received all ones with the exception of 3  (3's).  She has a problem listening and talks to much and is not so good at memorizing the Quran (who would be at 4 years old).  Arabic is one of the hardest languages.  Maya is definitely a wild child.  We were wondering how she could sit still in class and not talk.  Guess she doesn't.  But the teacher still says she is great and she loves helping the other kids with their work.

I will spend the next 2 weeks working on my list and then the girls will be out of school for 2 weeks.  No plans yet.

Will keep you posted.

 

Holiday Season
mynazzal

We took my brother-in-law to see Dubai last weekend.  I took the girls to Ski Dubai (an indoor ski place).  It was freezing cold inside.  I did not miss the snow but the girls loved it.  I did not think it was worth it to take the kids.  They only had 3 tube/tobaggan slides for them and it was pricey.  Now if you really enjoy skiing it would probably be worth it to go with adults.  The skiing area did look fun but since my kids are to little I did not get to give it a try.

We did not make it to the safari because we were exhausted from the Dubai trip.

I was not sure how Halloween would turn out here but it was very nice.  My friend Ashley invited us to here neighborhood where there were tons of kids trick or treating.  Layla was super woman.  Hannah was a bride.  Maya was a bee.  I did have a hard time finding costumes so we had to recycle from last year.  Maybe next year I will get creative with all my free time and make them a costume. ?????  Maybe.

The girls have exams all week at school so we will be studying this week.  School started out very easy.  The girls would get 100% on everything which was not the usual back home.  It is starting to get a little more challenging.  I will see how it goes after these exams.  Arabic is going well for them.  Layla who said she hated speaking arabic and did not want to learn it is now the most motivated.  She is starting to say little phrases around the house.  It is so cute.  In the process hopefully I will become better.

As for a job.  It is now a must that I learn more arabic in order to work as a pharmacist.  I need to take an oral arabic exam in order to get my license here.  I am thinking this is going to be a long process.  Since my brother-in-law has been here I haven't work on it much.  Since he is leaving now I will try to spend some time working on this.
 
Eid is coming up (another Muslim holiday).  My husband will be off work for a week and the kids will be off also.  We don't have plans yet but it will be nice to have some time off with the family.

Then the girls have 2 weeks off for Christmas break too.  They have put out Christmas stuff in the stores which is making me a little homesick.  I have never missed a Christmas with my family.  I am anticipating it will be a depressing time for me.  I know people live away from their families I just wonder how they handle it.  Guess I will find out.  Hopefully next year I will be able to go home to visit at Christmas time. 

My mom will be happy to know that I took the girls to Emirates Palace yesterday to an art exhibit.  They have really been into drawing thanks to my mom so I thought they would enjoy it.  I felt a little under dressed in my jeans.  People really fix themselves up here.  It felt like a cocktail party.  It turned out nice though.  They had some really good artists there.  The girls and I really enjoyed it.  Maya decided that we needed to go by some paints so she could be a museum girl when she grows up.



News
mynazzal

I finally visited a salon to get my hair and eyebrows done.  The Sisters Lounge was very nice and just opened 3 months ago.  I found out about it through the Time Out Abu Dhabi magazine that comes out weekly.  It was listed as a good salon and listed the haircut price as 150 dirhams (~$40).  When I go to pay the bill it turns out to be 790 dirhams ($215).  OMGosh.  I almost had a stroke.  Turns out the place is owned by the royal family and the people working there take care of the royal family.  And a haircut for 150 does not include wash and style and blow-dry.  It is strictly a trim.  So by the time I did highlighting and haircut and eyebrows I racked up $230 with the tip included.  I will definitely try and find a better deal next time.
I have a car now so I am getting out and about.  Driving has become much easier and it is fairly easy to find my way around.
Today I attended a newcomers event for the American Woman's Network in Abu Dhabi.  There were about 50 woman there but most were not in my generation.  The majority seemed to be in there 50's.  They do offer a lot of networking (book club, coffee gatherings, movie nights, talks, sightseeing, etc..)  with Americans but not sure I will go back due to the age difference.  Nothing against the older generation were just not doing the same things.  Most of their kids are grown and back in the states.
Plans for the weekend:  Head to Dubai and go on a safari trip in AD



(no subject)
mynazzal

Just woke up from a nap and feeling like it is probably time for me to write again.  I get a lot of these naps these days. 
We had an interesting week.  I thought my husband might be in jail for calling a man an F_____ing liar.  He was really upset because some guy hit his car then parked and proceeded to the coffee shop to drink coffee.  When the police arrived the guy said he didn't hit the car.  My husband cursed and then the guy said he was going to report him and he did.  Four hours later the police called an told my husband to come in.  Turns out that being an American and working for the military hospital were on his side.  The guy was considered at fault after investigation of the cars. 
That night my brother-in-law arrived from America to visit his brother.  He broughts a whole suitcase full of stuff for us from America.  That was a nice treat.  Some things we are used to in America we were not able to find here or they were overpriced (vitamins for the kids, crest white strips, shower curtain, clothes, and some toys and books for the kids).  Also recieved a book written by a wonderful lady back in Indy who developed breast cancer a couple years back.  I was looking forward to reading it when my water heater exploded in my bathroom.  I had put the book there so I could read it when I took a bath.  It rained in my bathroom for an hour before the guy got here to fix it.  Needless to say it was a little wet.  So now I am waiting for it to dry.
Also discovered this week that I will not be working here unless I learn some Arabic.  They have a new licensing program for pharmacists and you need to pass an arabic exam in order to get the license.  I will be working on that now (slowly).
News Worthy:
See 3 Emrati women at the beach take off their abaya to get some air.
See Emrati's sitting at the bar.
What an amazing place.  I think I should write a book but haven't found a good idea yet.
 



Weekend Without My Husband
mynazzal
My husband left this past Thursday to go to a continuing education seminar in Tunisia, a country in northern Africa I believe.  Needless to say me and the girls were left to explore Abu Dhabi alone.  It was a good experience.

Thursday I drove out to Al Reef where our friend Ashley lives.  It is about a 30-40 minute drive but pretty much a straight shot.  Our girls played together and we had dinner there.  Me and Ashley have a good time talking about our experiences here.  Ashley moved here from Indy a couple weeks before we did.  I did not know her in Indy but we were connected through a friend of Hannah and Layla at school.

Friday I drove out to Mohammad Bin Zayed City to meet another friend Roxanne.  It is about a 30 minute drive also but still a straight shot.  We had Subway for lunch and then headed to a new mall in Mussafah that is supposed to be the biggest in Abu Dhabi.  There were not many stores open yet but it definetly is a huge mall.  Back at her place we let the kids swim while we discussed our experiences here in Abu Dhabi.  She moved here from Ohio in January.  My husband works with her husband at the hospital and that is how we met.

Saturday we did some grocery shopping and then we spent the evening at the beach with Lena, her mom and her kids.  Lena moved here from Indy at about the same time we did.  We did know Lena back at home but were not very close to her and her family.  I am imaging we will be closer now.  We also have a good time discussing our experiences here.

So we had some good times with nice people and I improved on my driving skills.  I also learned that I don't like driving in the city.  Sometimes you have to sit 2-3 times at a light just to get through.  I found myself wishing that I were just at home and relaxing.

My brother-in-law is coming to visit next week and me and the girls are excited about that because we are having them bring some things over for us.  Although there are many clothing stores here I have not got into shopping at them.  So I ordered some things online to have him bring.  I am also having him bring some books.  Maybe I am just cheap but books are overpriced here (probably double the price you pay back home).  I also ordered a shower curtain on-line for the girls.  I can't seem to find a decent one here.  They look like shower curtains that America had 10-20 years ago.  They do have nice accessories just not shower curtains.  I really miss Target. 

My husband made it back safe from his trip and so for now I am back to taking the taxi's.  We are in search of an SUV so hopefully we will get one soon. 

Mary

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