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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My Abu Dhabi Essentials!

One of the requirements of being an expat in a foreign country, is opening your mind and eyes to new ideas and learning to adjust. It hasn’t always been easy, and I often miss home. But, Abu Dhabi has exposed me to cool things I wouldn’t have normally used. Here are a few things I can’t live without:

1. The Ample Supply of Art Supply Stores in the City

Abu Dhabi is essentially a big shopping center in the desert made up of an infinite supply of shopping malls. These malls house bookstores, and in Abu Dhabi, most bookstores carry art supplies. This means that with any trip to the mall I can quickly pick up a few canvases (or a lot) and paints to keep this artist happy!

Recently, I also discovered Green Branch, which is a fabulous independent art supply store in the city with walls and walls of materials. I do believe it is the best art supply store in the city. Don’t be fooled by its humble accommodations, this place is a gem!

2. A Black Abaya

 

The black abaya has traditionally been worn in the desert for over a thousand years. Fast forward to 2014, the abaya has since evolved into a fashion-forward, sometimes sexy, often expensive garment for the modern Muslim woman. In the UAE, everyone wears them and for almost any occasion.

I love that I can throw one over my pajamas for a quick errand or two. Or I can jazz it up for an upscale event. It’s versatile, elegant, and to be honest, I feel like a princess when I’m wearing it.

3. Burning Bakhoor

I have a feeling bakhoor can be found in every flat and villa in the Emirate. Purfumed wood or “oud” is set on burning charcoals to smoke your home into a decadently smelling abode. It’s faster than burning candles, and with the many shops in the city, you can experiment with countless fragrant combinations including rose, frankincense, french perfumes, and more. Lately I’ve been loving the stronger “Oud” blends which are a favorite amongst the locals. In fact, I have some burning now!

4. Sandals, sandals, and more sandals!

I have to admit, I’ve never been much of a sandal-wearer. But in this sand-pit, you quickly get over any inhibitions at showing your pretty piggies. The weather is often too hot to wear anything else, and with Steve Madden, Aldo, and other shops being just a drive a way, what more can a girl want? I’m currently rocking these beauties from Steve Madden. BADEN in Gold/Cognac. It’s a sexy one.

5. Sunscreen and Sunnies

My absolute favorite sunscreen. I’m pretty much allergic to everything else. This one keeps my face safe from the scorching desert sun. Oh, and yesterday’s temp? 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Yea… cover up!

And last but not least, my beloved Ray Bans. Still the sunglass of choice in the Emirate, and an absolute essential with my black abaya and handbag.

What are some of your expat essentials?

 

Images sourced from Pinterest and Steve Madden

 

 

Setting Intentions to Travel and Be Bigger

June is almost to a close. I’ve finished my last free art class for the month, managed to injure my back (all that upside down painting), and I’ve been catching up on some commissions.

These last few days though, I’ve been stuck in a rut. Moody pieces have emerged from my studio. Dark, not really cheery colors like my usual stuff but I’m ok with that.

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I’ve also been suddenly aware of the fact that I miss traveling. Yes, I know, I am an expat overseas. Abu Dhabi is far from what I would consider home. And yet, I can’t help but feeling like I need a change of scenery. I’ve quickly outgrown this desert island.

I traveled a lot in college. Brazil, England, Portugal, Turkey, France, just to name a few. I know that feeling you get when you step off the plane into a foreign land, somewhere you’ve never been before. It’s good for my soul, for my brain, and especially good for my creativity.

I’ve been painting pretty consistently these last few months, and happily selling my art to fortunate collectors here in Abu Dhabi and even abroad. But, lately, I feel the need to be bigger.

I want to paint bigger. I want to see bigger. I want to sell bigger. I want to be bigger. Maybe that means finding a gallery that’s excited to represent my work.

I think about this day and night now. It could mean I’m ready. Regardless, my eyes are now impatient with what’s in front of me. It’s not like I’m bored. I just feel that same thing stirring inside of me that rose a few years ago: this desire to see the world, relish in the ancient architecture of a land, speak Portuguese (or another language), and be so immersed in discovering new things that I forget myself and all of life’s current trials.

Looks like I’m going to have to work hard for this and hopefully manifest this into reality soon.

I hope in a few months, I will be sharing my travel experiences with you guys. I already contacted a good friend of mine in London for a reunion. We’re thinking Spain 🙂

 

Wanderlust.

Quranic exhortations to be a wanderluster ❤

“Say: ‘Travel in the earth.’” [Quran 6:11]

O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. [49:13]

“And Allah has made for you the earth a wide expanse.” [Noah:19]

“Do they never travel about the earth (and view all these scenes with an eye to learn lessons), so that they may have hearts with which to reason (and arrive at truth), or ears with which to hear (God’s call)? For indeed, it is not the eyes that have become blind; it is rather the hearts in the breasts that are blind.” [22:46]

“Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.) for people of understanding.” [2:164]

I’ve always loved traveling, meeting new people, seeing new places. It may have started in high school, as a nationally-competitive Lincoln-Douglass debater, and traveling to places like Texas, Illinois, Harvard, and Yale for debate tournaments. By college, I was ready for the journey ahead: a summer in Brazil, a spring break in London, and then returning later in the fall for a full semester.

Traveling is an expensive but rewarding privilege. Being in Abu Dhabi is no exception. It is an Oriental melting pot of cuisines, colors, languages, religions, and nationalities. I’m eager to meet others, anxious even, because it’s such an exciting time.

I know that these moments do not create themselves–one must go out, speak, be present.