So I received an email from a gentleman who is in the process of being interviewed for a job here in Abu Dhabi. He came across my blog and wanted me to answer some questions he had about living here.
It got me to thinking about my own questions and the questions asked by others when I was about to embark on my journey.
So for the sake of those who themselves are thinking about or actually moving here as well as for those curious minds, I will answer some burning questions about Abu Dhabi.
1. Abu Dhabi, where's that? Is it in Dubai or Africa?
I was actually asked this.
Abu Dhabi is located in the Middle East. It is one of 7 emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is one of those 7 emirates which also includes Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Qaiwain.
It is near to Africa but it isn't in Africa.
2. Can women drive in Abu Dhabi?
Yes and they do all the time. There are even women taxi drivers here.
3. Do they monitor your media?
I doubt it. I've seen 50 Shades of Grey and Why Men Marry Bitches prominently displayed on the shelves in bookstores. They play movies with kissing and songs with curses in the malls. If they don't have time to censure media that is being disseminated to thousands, you think they are gonna have time to check your emails?
4. Can I drink alcohol?
Yes. Hotel bars and restaurants serve alcohol as well as most clubs. With a license or on the sly you can purchase alcohol for the consumption in the privacy of your home.
5. Can I date?
I haven't been lucky in that department but yes lots of people date here. You just have to be respectful. No PDA. Save that for the bedroom or wherever else you like to get busy.
6. What can I wear?
This was my biggest area of regret. I was ill-prepared in the clothing department for my journey. You can wear what you like as long as you show respect for the culture in public. Cover your cheeks and lady parts when going out, well except to da clubs! Ladies, save the sexy for after dark.
Men you don't have to worry about this area of your life.
7. Do I have to cover my head or wear those long black dresses?
The answer is no. Again, you are free to exercise your sartorial rights here. You can be as stylish or frumpy as you like. No one cares.
Some schools may require you to wear one of those long black dresses but not many do. I choose to wear one because it makes life so much easier.
P.S those long black dresses are called abayas. Don't turn up your nose, they are quite comfy and can be super stylish.
8. Can I go to church?
Yes, despite popular beliefs and by popular I mean that one lady who called my mother on the phone in a frantic panic claiming that I was not going to be allowed to go to church and that you can't practice freedom of religion here. Not true.
You can pick choose and refuse churches here. In the city. I am not sure what it is like in the other emirates or further in the western region of Abu Dhabi where the expat population is very low. Here in the city there are churches to be found, people go to them. It's a beast trying to find parking on a Friday to go to church. Thousands of people are out going to practice their religion.
9. Can I find black lady hair products?
No. Being your own. I actually glimpsed a product called "Twisted Sistas" once but that was it and I never laid eyes on that stuff again. Bring loads of whatever your product choice is.
10. What's it like living in Abu Dhabi?
I personally love it here. So do the people I hang out with. Yes there are challenges, mainly work related but otherwise the lifestyle is great for most professional expats. Free housing, nice housing for the most part and no taxes. You can travel to just about anywhere and you can afford to live in away that is dang near impossible if your aren't an investment banker or high powered attorney in the States.
Some people don't like the culture, hey you're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy. You are in someone else's country, deal with it or go home.
I live my life and do what I enjoy, nobody bothers me and I don't bother nobody.