Thursday, November 26, 2015

And so it daughter speaks Arabic and I don't!

I always knew that, living abroad, my daughter would be exposed to several languages and cultures. This is actually one of the things we are most happy and proud of: giving her the opportunity to become a citizen of the world. However, we started to realize that very soon we will fall behind and will have to work extra hard if we want to catch-up with her!

Up until now we've had to transition between our native Portuguese (language we use at home between the three of us) and English (used to communicate with the nanny and in school). So far, so good. After all, my husband and I are fluent in both languages. 

Recently though, she has started to throw in some Arabic to the mix...

Mommy, just one more and khalas (stop, enough)

Let's run Daddy, yella, yella (let's go, come on)

It hurts, wawa wawa (boo-boo) 

This last one I had never even heard of before! Wawa? I thought she was just being creative and coming up with a new word or something until I found out what it meant while having a conversation with someone from work!

I've been in the UAE for eight years now and never considered going for Arabic classes, but something tells me I'd better consider it or my daughter will soon be cursing at me or making sneaky plans with friends without me even realizing it!!!!!


Arabic for HELP (or so I was told by Google translator)


Saturday, August 1, 2015

3 things to do with kids today in Abu Dhabi

Stuck at home with kids? Here are three ideas to get you all out of the house for an afternoon of fun in Abu Dhabi...

1. Go to the movies!
Vox Cinemas has a brand new location at Nation Galleria and Minions might be a great option for you and the kids. 3:30pm (Vox Gold) and 7pm (Standard). You can even buy tickets online at VOX CINEMAS 

2. Go watch Barney Live!
The big purple dinosaur is in town and waiting for you at Emirates Palace. There are two show today,  at 4pm and at 7pm. Tickets at TIXBOX

3. Go try the glow in the dark mini golf course!
Located at Dalma Mall, this crazy 18-hole glow in the dark mini golf will keep the family entertained. For more info TEE&PUTT

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fellow expats: is it time for a reality check?

For many expats, the United Arab Emirates is a land of opportunities. Each one of us is driven to it by a different reason, obviously. I, for example, followed my husband who decided he wanted to experience life abroad in a place that would provide us with a better quality of life. Others come for the sun, for the night scene, for friends or simply because they feel like making a change in their lives. But in the end, most of us decide to take the plunge and relocate here for one main reason: a very tempting job offer that comes with a series of attractive benefits.

But how far can this package be stretched and is it enough to take care of people’s needs?

If you asked me this question eight years ago when I first moved here, I’d say, absolutely! Back then, I’d spend, on average, AED 250 (USD 70) to fill up a cart in the supermarket and AED 110 (USD 30) to pay my monthly energy/water bill. I made ends meet, had extra cash to spend and managed to save quite a bit.

Over the past years though, inflation and frequent reviews in subsidies have made life here a bit more complicated. Today, the same trip to the market mentioned above will probably cost me around AED 800 (USD 220) and my energy/water bill has gone up to AED 300 (USD 85). Not even the fuel price resisted - as of next month it will be deregulated and a new pricing policy will be adopted. 

Sure, it can be a bit frustrating, but I must confess all this does not come as a total surprise. I always wondered until when we would be able to live in this ‘bubble’, with so many privileges, while the rest of the world faces such economic turbulence. 

To tell you the truth, there is a side of me that is actually kind of relieved. Maybe this change will finally force people to rethink their lifestyle, reduce unnecessary spendings and review their priorities around here.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again. People move to the UAE and go crazy. The local social pressure to have and show-off nice clothes, cars, homes, partnered with the easiness to get hold of credit cards with outrageous limits and bank loans has proven to be a deadly combination. 

Expats who have a generous package to actually sponsor a luxurious and posh new way of life often find themselves frustrated and tired of maintaining such a pointless and vain routine filled with trips to the malls, debates over the most expensive piece of item one has purchased recently and brunch every Friday with people who would probably not be by their side if they were back home.  

For those less fortunate, it is easy to get lost when it seems like everything is magically accessible and doable. Many people truly believe they are living the dream. The problem is this is a dream that they can’t really afford and suddenly they find themselves sitting on a mountain of debt.

Needless to say I am, of course, generalizing. Along the way, I’ve certainly met many amazing people who have managed to stay sane, to enjoy the best of what the UAE has to offer, to learn about the local culture, to make true and lasting friendships, to keep their focus and, ultimately, do what we all came here to do: live a better present and save up for the future. 

From time to time we just need to stop for a minute and give ourselves a good reality check...

Friday, July 17, 2015

Sleeping pods will help you rest on your way through Abu Dhabi International Airport

Eid starts today. This means that the Abu Dhabi International Airport will be packed with people coming in or heading out of Abu Dhabi over the next few days. For passengers in transit, who need to wait a few hours to catch a flight to their final destination, the sleeping pods located in Terminal 3 can be a great option to catch-up on some rest. 

Image shared from Abu Dhabi International Airport website.

Produced in Finland, the GoSleep pods are state-of-the-art chairs that convert into sleeping pods with fold-flat beds. The little cocoons are stylish, easy to operate and with enough space for guests to safely storage their luggage and other valuables. It also allows customers to charge their laptops, mobile telephones and other electronic devices. 

To make use of one of the 24 sleeping pods currently available you can either make an advance booking or take a chance on the spot. Prices range from AED 30 to AED 48 per hour, depending on the length of your stay. Be sure to ask about special promotions for check-in after 10am and check-out before 8pm!

For further information and reservations visit GoSleep.

Happy dreams!!!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

TOMS now in Abu Dhabi Marina Mall

Ever heard of Blake Mycoskie or TOMS? If not, here is a very short version of this incredible success story:

Back in 2006, while traveling through Argentina, Blake witnessed many children growing up without shoes. His solution? TOMS - One for One - a business model to help a person in need with every product purchased. Since then, TOMS Shoes has provided over 35 million pairs of shoes to children and TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to over 250,000 since launching in 2011. In 2014, TOMS Roasting Company was founded with the mission to provide clean water to developing communities with the purchase of premium coffee. 

Cool, right?

This week I ventured into the first official TOMS store here in Abu Dhabi (Marina Mall) and simply couldn't resist the fun patterns and design. Ended up leaving with a little something for everyone, including the cutest little espadrille for my two-year-old daughter. 

Feels good to do some shopping and give back to the community somehow. Glad to help!

For more info, check out TOMS

Sunday, December 7, 2014

In mourning

Last week, an American teacher was brutally murdered inside the bathroom of an upscale mall in Reem Island, Abu Dhabi.

My first reaction when the news came out? Shock. After all, this kind of thing hardly ever happens around here – especially not in high-end places such as this one.

But I must be honest here. The first thing that crossed my mind was that the crime was some kind of personal vengeance or that the victim had simply been in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

However, after learning that the same person who had stabbed that American teacher to death also managed to plant a bomb at the door of an Egyptian-American Doctor’s apartment (which was actually only a couple of streets away from my building), I am not so sure anymore. It seems more of an elaborated plot.

For the first time in the seven years I’ve been in the UAE, I felt uncertain and afraid.

It is amazing how things can change from one moment to the next. Just the other day, I was talking to some friends and mentioned how relieved I was to no longer live in Brazil. Here, I could finally let my guard down, instead of having to constantly keep looking over my shoulders for potential threats.

I had completely forgotten how awful and strenuous it is to feel this way.

Over the weekend I caught myself overthinking my every move. I was suspicious of people and behaviors. For a moment there, I even considered avoiding certain places, for they might be a target to whatever else might be in store to disrupt and terrorize people around here. Ironic that my last post talks about generalizations and how stupid they are - and here I was generalizing away.

The police has been amazing so far. They actually managed to identify and arrest the suspect (which, by the way, I thought would be impossible to do since the person was wearing an abaya, gloves and niqab) within 48 hours of the crime. So this gives me some kind of reassurance.

But, unfortunately, something was broken. I just hope it can be restored. Soon.

Meanwhile, my heart goes out to the family of Ibolya Ryan, especially her three children, Adam, Aidan and Timea, who are also victims of this violent and incomprehensible act.