Life so far, in the UAE, is the same, but different. What I mean by that is almost everyone speaks English here, in varying degrees. You can get most of the foods you love at home, just at an elevated price. And there are so many expatriats here, that you don’t feel out of place! Sure the writing on your coke or water bottle is in Arabic, but thanks to branding, you still know what it is.
As I mentioned before, you’ll find all your favorite restaurants like Papa Johns, P.F. Changs, Dunkin Donuts, Mc Donald’s, and more. Even famliar clothing stores like H&M, Payless Shoes, Carter’s, and even Toys R Us! However, more often than not, I’ll find myself with the local brand as it’s far cheaper to buy. Toys R Us almost broke the bank! Transformers…have them shipped to you in a care package with other stuff!
Since the last post, we have traveled from Abu Dhabi, 1.5 hours inland, to a town called Al Ain. However, not before I tested out our insurance here and a visit to the hospital ER! I tore my toenail off in the hotel room, which landed me in the ER, and I’ll spare you the rest of the details. But I do want to say that the staff is very nice, and the cost of care here with insurance is LOW! We had an emergency room visit, plus three prescriptions, and we walked out paying 76 dhs…making that approx $22.61! I was very pleased by this experience. Now, back to Al Ain, this is the Oasis of the UAE, and where all of the bottled water comes from. This is where we will now be living. However, we are still in a hotel…one month later, as I write this. So “home” life hasn’t quite settled in. We are lucky though. The room given to us is a suite. So we have a very large living room with dining table, couch, and tv, as well as a kitchen, and two bedrooms. We have made it home, and will probably continue to do so for the next week or two based on pace at which things happen here. It’s not ideal, but it’s doable for now. The facilities are nice here too! There is a lap pool, a lounge pool, and a covered baby pool. There are a variety of restaurants, pubs, and stores to spend time in, and a great health club and salon/spa area. I hear the massages are amazing here, about 120 dhs = $32 for a one hour massage with aromatherapy. Can’t beat this “vacation” lifestyle we’ve got going on here. Oh, and many have asked if you can drink here…yes you can, in the hotels and clubs. Or you may purchase an alcohol license and go buy your own at the liquor stores found around town.
Another “norm” of life here that just started for us was school for the kids! We were going to homeschool, but ended up finding a private school under Cambridge education, and affordable called Global English School! Our 4 year old will be in KG1, and our 6 year old will be in Grade 1. This school’s population is 59% local, and the rest are expatriats like ourselves, and taught in English with a Montessori emphasis. My kids’ classes only have one other American in them besides themselves. They will have Arabic 4 days a week, as well as Islamic Studies and Morals classes, mixed in with English, Math, Science, Art, Computers, and Library. The uniforms are adorable…not what I’m used to. Again, same, but different. They have both enjoyed the first few days of school so far, but when I asked them what their friends names are in class, they can’t tell me due to the fact that they don’t understand what their friends are saying! I am sure my kids will have a great appreciation and understanding of all people after this, and will hopefully speak Arabic fluently.
There is so much to do here for a family whether you are visiting or living here. The first thing is to join a hotel club. With this membership, you get a pool, gym, and other facilities within the hotel, and often discounts at their restaurants and other recreational classes like soccer for kids or swimming lessons. Most people who live here belong to a hotel club. Beyond that, there is a zoo, an arcade in every mall called Fun City (including a roller coaster and other rides), indoor ski slopes and ice skating rinks, camel souks, and more. The country caters to children in every way. Children are everywhere here, and everyone loves them. Your child throws a fit in the mall or store? “No problem madame, it’s ok” is the response you’ll here. I’m including a few pictures of these places to given you an idea. The camel souk is full of hundreds and hundreds of camels, and many men wanting you to take pictures with them so they can charge you! LOL! But they are so cute!
This is the indoor ski/skate place in Bawadi Mall in Al Ain.
Below is Fun City, located in most malls. A good outlet for the kids, and a way to get out of the heat! On the far right is a play area also found in most malls…again, they are focused on children here, so any way to let the children have fun, they’ll have it!
We are loving the UAE, and I would strongly urge anyone and everyone to put it on your bucket list. It’s a place like no other. Some things will drive you nuts, some things you know you’ll miss. But isn’t home like that too?