39 Signs You’ve Been Living In Abu Dhabi for Too Long

I’ve lived in Abu Dhabi now for 2 years. That’s just enough time to realize all the things you love to hate and hate to love about a place. I feel blessed to call this place my home for the time being. And when I go back to the U.S. now to visit family, I’m shocked to realized how much I’ve changed. Here are “a few” things I’ve learned about living here that I wanted to share with you all. But, keep in mind, this is mostly my perspective as an American, a wife, and a female. Enjoy 🙂

39 (originally 25) Signs You’ve Been Living in Abu Dhabi for Too Long

  1. You know that stop signs are purely for suggestion, turn signals are completely optional, speed bumps are more like hills, and you want to flip someone the bird at least once a week but can’t because it’s illegal.
  2. You’ve gotten sunburned before…in December.
  3. Because of this, you wear sunscreen year round.
  4. You’re friends are jealous because you post beach pictures all year long.
    "Fauv Mini Camel by Amira Rahim at www.amirarahim.com
    “Fauv Camel Mini”  by Amira Rahim
  5. You’ve looked up at least once because you thought someone was spitting on you, and then realized it was just the sky trying to rain.
  6. You can’t get anything done between 1-4:30 because businesses close down for afternoon break.
  7. You know that finding a parking space in most places is a gift from God and you wiggle in your seat when you find one. Or…you just do what the locals do and create your own.
  8. You or someone you know drives a Land Cruiser or Nissan Patrol.
  9. You no longer double take when you see a Corvette, Masserati, or Bently. But you will stop for Ferraris, Maclarens, Lambourginis, or a beautiful vintage piece.
  10. You’ve gotten used to the creepy guys that stare at you like you’re from out of space.
  11. You have an umbrella that serves no other purpose other than sun protection.
  12. You’ve cancelled plans just because it was too hot outside and didn’t feel like being slapped in the face by the humidity.
  13. You’ve ordered ridiculous things like toilet paper, a case of water, ice cream and more to be delivered to your doorstep and you’re not ashamed, even if the store is in your building.
  14. You brunch, lunch, and coffee morning with the best of them, and always looking for the next restaurant to spend a leisure afternoon.
  15. You know there’s no such thing as customer service here, and that no matter how many times someone says “Yes, Madammmmm,” in a sing-song tone, you still struggle to place an order, remedy a mishap, or file a complaint.
  16. You’ve switched 5-6 lanes in moving traffic and didn’t feel like a complete douche.
  17. You swear your family back home has never tasted a proper shawarma, falafel, baklava, or hummus.
  18. You’ve gained at least 15-20 lbs (see the above) and have no idea how to drop it.
  19. You’re constantly planning your next getaway, vacation, or exotic trip.
  20. You know that hiring help is perfectly necessary, and wouldn’t dare live without your nanny, housekeeper, or live-in maid.
  21. You say things like “Khalas” and “Inshallah” because no other phrase seems to express what you’re feeling.
  22. You know that most things are negotiable. Nothing happens on time. And “official” rules and regulations change regularly.
  23. You give friends directions to your house by citing the nearest mall, landmark, or GPS coordinates because there are no real addresses here.
  24. You’ve had so much things shipped to your home that you’re starting to feel like a cartel.
  25. You go to Dubai for shopping, good food, and fun on a regular basis.
  26. You’ve drank 14karat gold at Emirates Palace.
  27. You know how to order in broken English when necessary (i.e. “same same”, “special full”, “big big one”, etc.)
  28. You have friends from places you’ve never heard of until several years ago.
  29. You look forward to cloudy days.
  30. You own at least one expensive pair of shades and don’t sweat it because you wear them all year long.
  31. You know that if you search hard enough, anything can be delivered to your door. Even Pinkberry.
  32. You’ve ridden a camel, smoked shisha, got a henna tattoo, and attempted to belly dance at least once.
  33. You expect everything to be open until midnight. And know that during Ramadan the city never sleeps.
  34. You’ve had ongoing construction in every single neighborhood you’ve ever lived in. 
  35. You’ve seen a sandstorm and said several prayers because you were sure this would be your last day on earth.
  36. You live in a high rise apartment over-looking the city and you’re not rich.
  37. You’ve pulled up to a store or establishment in your car, placed the order, and then waited for the guy to bring it to your car door, like a boss!
  38. You know to buy perfumes to take back home to your family and keep some for yourself.
  39. You’ve made some of the best friends in your life and can’t imagine ever leaving!

What else would you add to this list?

Blog of artist Amira Rahim

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Facing a Fear: Small Abstracts

Hi there,

I came back to Abu Dhabi last week and so happy to be back. I’ve been busy doing housewife things like organizing closets and picking out duvet sets, etc. Blah blah. But in the process, I’ve developed a newfound respect for being more organized. I have been on this organization rampage and my studio is not exempt! Happy to say it’s almost up to par and ready for me to make some big moves this month.

As with any break, the trouble of starting back up again in the studio can be daunting. So, I decided what better way to ease into the swing of things than by starting small abstract paintings on canvas.

I’m pushing for color these days. Maybe it’s the shuffle & transition of leaving one home for another, the coastal, desert landscape, or just my own form of mood management, but I want to see more bright and saturated color these days. Bright pinks, impossible greens. I want it now but I know it will take weeks maybe to bring it out of me. It’s hard sometimes to go bold. Here is my first attempt. It’s a small abstract (40x40cm), something I struggle with now as I continue to create larger and larger works of art.

Why do I struggle, you may ask? Well, it’s hard to maintain control of an abstract piece when the canvas is so small. It can easily get crowded. I lose sight of focus. The paint takes for ever to dry. Etc. Etc.

This piece was actually prompted to get this done early in the morning. I work up at 4am for suhoor (a pre-dawn meal prior to fasting). And, true to form, I could not get back to sleep in the morning. My mind is far to active or inspired when I first wake up. I was wondering, specifically, if I could use purple as a neutral. Strange thoughts in the AM, I know. But, I was considering the possibility. I know it’s a color and generally, when you think neutrals, you think grays and beiges. But, if it’s one thing I’ve learned over the years is that a color is only as relevant as the color next to it.

Here’s the piece, and here is my progress shots along the way.

I also decided to experiment with some of my new materials, including Krink paints and Posca acrylic markers. The verdict? In love!

I like to first mark the canvas with a few lines. Just making the space less empty. Some like to tone the canvas. This is also helpful, especially for more figurative painting. For abstract pieces, I tend to dive right in, though.
I like to first mark the canvas with a few lines. Just making the space less empty. Some like to tone the canvas. This is also helpful, especially for more figurative painting. For abstract pieces, I tend to dive right in, though.
progress shot_amira rahim
I mixed a few cool colors on my palette and then went in establishing some forms using my favorite flat brush.
See what I mean? It get's busy really fast with the smaller pieces. This will definitely get toned down.
See what I mean? It get’s busy really fast with the smaller pieces. This will definitely get toned down.
I move right in with my new Krink acrylic paint marker. This teal color grabbed me and boy is it beautiful. It has a nice sheen to it and it drips on the canvas just the way I like my paints! It's a keeper.
I move right in with my new Krink acrylic paint marker to mute out some spaces. This teal color grabbed me and boy is it beautiful. It has a nice sheen to it and it drips on the canvas just the way I like my paints! It’s a keeper.
I added a few lines and muted out some spaces. I like the moodiness of the piece. It's not as bright as I would have hoped but..
I added a few lines and muted out some spaces. I like the moodiness of the piece. It’s not as bright as I would have hoped but..
progress 7 amira
Here’s a shot of the piece hanging on my newly covered canvas walls. I’m happy with the use of purple in this piece. And I enjoy the sense of control that the bars of paint achieve. I will be creating more pieces like this over the coming weeks. Stay tuned, I’m just warming up!

Thanks for reading. As a note, this is my blog. To visit more of my work, please go to my official website at www.amirarahim.com.