Thursday, 22 September 2011

Seems To Be All Doom and Gloom At The Moment

The past few months seem to have seen a lot of doom and gloom.
I cant believe all the people I work with who seem to have died recently or fallen seriously ill.

First was our dear Mobile Warden "Ron". Life and Soul of the Mobile Wardens, always found at the biscuit tin in the morning raiding all the chocolate ones. First in the que at our annual office christmas buffet waiting patiently, paper plate in hand. He always wore a hat, weird and wacky to American Stetson, he was so loved. I remember early this year seeing him one week as usual then a week later he walked into the office and you could not imagine the change in him. He looked so ill, just within a week he went from normal looking to looking as though he was seriously ill. He went to the doctor, but I knew he had cancer that morning he walked into the office looking grey and drawn, I know "that" look having lost my mother and sister to cancer, and a month later it was confirmed. Ron was diagnosed in Feb and was dead by July. So sad. He is sadly missed in our office by all of us as well as the other Housing Office staff around the City.

Then my cousins daughter "Summer" was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, it is unlikely she will ever walk or talk and most who have this syndrome do not live past 40 if they are lucky. Summer is just 2 years old and the most beautiful child you can imagine.

One morning our cashier in the office "Ceri" came into work totally hunched over, she could not straighten herself and over the next month or so she became worse. She managed to get into work daily despite the pain and having to live on morphine and also attended endless hospital appointments to find out what was wrong. For the past 7 weeks she has been off work as she is now in a wheelchair and has sadly just been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease which is basically a death sentence and most people die within 2 years. She also has 3 other rare disorders. Tragic, Ceri has two young children.

Then our office got the news that someone we used to work closely with in another department had died. "Neta" had battled cancer and was recovering, she went home one day to collect something and fell down the stairs, she got a blood clot on the brain and died. Her death shocked us all last month, a beautiful soul no longer with us.

Today I found out another dear work collegue "Steve" who I always had a laugh and joke with when I worked at the other Housing Office in Town is bravely fighting Prostrate Cancer and the outlook is not very good.

Please keep all those who are currently suffering in your prayers and pray for the souls of those that have left us.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Please Make Dua for Summer

As Ramadan is almost at its end, please make Dua for the beautiful daughter of my cousin.

Her name is Summer and she is the most beautiful little girl. Dark like most of my family but with the most beautiful sapphire blue eyes.

She was two last week and although Summer on appearences looks like any other little girl, she is unable to walk, unable to talk and the doctors believe she probably never will. They believe she has a genetic disorder and from all the symptoms and things she does it all points to Retts Syndrome (although we still do not have a diagnosis).

My cousin Sarah (Summers mother) is finding it very difficult to cope with and it is all very traumatic for her to see her daughter regress rather than go forward as other child do as they grow. So please keep them both in your prayers and hope with strength and positivity Summer can develope as best she can and that eventually she will walk and talk.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Why Memories Are Priceless

Its been over 7 years since I left my beautiful UAE.
If you have read my blog you will know I had no choice but to leave because of the situation around me. Oh I could have stayed in all honesty but being the fiercely independant and proud woman I am, no way was I going to go begging to my friends (who all would have helped) or allowed someone to "Keep" me financially and my daughter just because I knew my heart would break when I left.

Now sometimes I walk down to my local shops and can hardly believe how different my life is today to how it was then (prior to marrying the nightmare who is my daughters father). I walk to the shops, carry bags of shopping up the hill, work full time, do my own housework, worry about the bills, travel to work on the bus and get no preferential treatment. Rarely if ever go out in the evenings or weekends.

Back in the old days, I had use of the driver (until I passed my driving test and got given my first car (BMW 7 Series)), had a houseboy to do all my dirty work, I owned two businesses, was well know in the local community. Had a fabulous social life, out virtually every night and away every weekend. Got invited to fabulous local weddings, had an enviable social circle. Got to travel abroad a lot including 3 months in Munich where I got to travel in a UAE embassy limousine complete with flag on the front a few times when I accompanied "O" to some medical appointments. Hotel rooms were always massive suites not the tiny rooms I now stay in.

I got to meet amazing people outside of the locals I knew including celebrities from Bollywood, Indian and Pakistani politicians some of which became very good friends.
I got asked to do some exciting things such as help set up a celebrity kickboxing match after meeting the arab world champion and had to write to people like Mike Tyson and Mohammed Ali inviting them as guests.

I was also asked to arrange a large birthday party for one of the Sharjah Sheikha's children and I was also invited to attend as a guest which was my first local women only party and I remember being so nervous and feeling totally out of place until a group of women including the host made me feel totally at home and who were all facinated that I loved to wear the traditional Emirati womens dress. I got to live with a local family in an amazing huge house in the desert of Al Awir on the same dirt track as the farms of Shiekh Hasher and other Maktoum Sheikhs. I had my own guest house complete with indoor swimming pool (you came out of the bedroom door and the pool was right there) with noisy peacocks on the roof.

But I gave up that life when I decided to get married. I was only married a year and a bit and then I fled UAE.
That was my life then, an amazing life, a life that has given me the most amazing memories that will stay with me until I die.

Do I miss that life???? Yes, of course, but not all the bling and glitz and luxury (if you want to call it that), No I dont miss that, I miss my real life there, drives into the desert, my dear, dear friends, of hearing the Azan being called, of being able to wear those beautiful dresses and my abaya's. Of going shopping for my Bukhoor and Attar's. I miss sitting on the beach at night and catching Hammour with a cheap fishing line we used to buy from a small grocery. I miss weekends in Kalba and singing local songs and making BBQ, I miss camping in the desert and walking in the cool sand. I miss ramadan and driving down to "O's" house to get the huge plate of ramadan nibbles they always prepared for me and I miss evenings in a ramadan tent set up near the creak smoking sheisha and eating tons of houmus.
I miss passing by the Friday Market on the way back from Kalba and buying corn on the cob BBQ on a stick.

I miss the long drives on a friday evening from Kalba to Abu Dhabi as I drove "O's" elderly cousin "Eissa" home after a weekend at the farm. "Eissa" would send his driver home alone and then insist I drove him sometimes. He would settle in the passenger seat, put very old Khaleeji music on the tape deck and we would sing our way back to Abu Dhabi on that long 4 hour drive. Eissa would delight in calling all his elderly friends while we were driving to tell them he was seated next to a beautiful english girl called LouLou (beautiful being his opinion not mine LOL) and she was driving him home. When I dropped him home and then turned around to drive back to Dubai I would always find wads of dirhams shoved in my bag as a thankyou for driving him, singing with him and trying to teach him one or two words of english (in all those years he only ever managed Hello).

I miss "O" and I loading the Land Cruiser up with ice boxes and loads of cold water and juice and driving around all the building sites etc in summer and handing out cold drinks to those poor workers who suffered in the heat (we did this a lot when I first arrived). I miss evenings at Rashid's or Nabil's (Nabil has sadly passed away), playing darts all evening with our group and cooking up a big feast to eat later (local men love to cook given the chance). I miss waiting near the beach in Kalba for the fisherman to pull their nets full of sardines onto the beach and then running down to buy large bag fulls of them to take back to the farm to BBQ.

I miss funny times such as riding a jetski wearing a traditional emirati dress with my friends parrot on my shoulder on the beach in Dhaid. I miss fun time weekends at the farm with my best friend Fay, both of us in the swimming pool talking the night away as the men sit in the farm house and play cards, oud, drums and gossip about other locals. I miss living in Al Awir and the big dinner parties they had, where you always found me in the kitchen helping our two Nepalese chef's/kitchen hands, scrapping plates and doing the drying up because I felt sorry for them much to the horror of my friends. I miss handpicking dates and mango's from the trees in the farm and miss running down to the pen where all the sheep and goats were kept, giving them all names and petting their heads despite knowing any one of them could be on the dinner plate that evening.

I miss driving "O" around very late at night as he told me tales of the old UAE, the tribes, the way of life in his fathers and grandfathers time. Of showing me the land his family used to rule, the old houses that are now crumbled buildings that they ruled from, I miss him teaching me the correct etiquette and way to do things the Emirati way, I miss all my old friends some of whom, including "O" have sadly passed away.

Those are the things I miss, the important things, the things that made my life so wonderful.

It has taught me a lesson to hold on to every single memory that makes your life special. You never know when that life will end and a new one begins. Dont suck up the glitz and bling as it has no real meaning as its here today and gone tommorow. Savour the real special moments that you wont ever get back again if that life disapeared. Sadly in UAE most new people even if they marry a local will never get to experience the old UAE. It is now full of lights, shopping malls, bars, clubs and western claptrap. Its hard to do the simple things I and others who arrived long ago did. But even so, if you love UAE keep whatever you do deep in your memory bank because you never know when it might all end.

I always said I would never leave UAE unless it was in my coffin, but I had a baby daughter and a husband who was dangerously unstable who would have used my child as a tool against me. I left and I gave up 13 years of my life and returned to the UK which I had not seen for almost 10 years. I have been back twice since I left in 2004 as my current husbands family all live there but I did not enjoy what I saw, I felt like I had landed in another country completely because the changes were unbelievable.

If you plan to make UAE your home as I did for all those years, one tip I would give is try to learn about the culture, the heritage of how life used to be. Dont just accept the UAE of today full of malls and all that Jazz. Many of the old stuff might not be there anymore but you can still learn about how it used to be, about traditional emirati ways and values. Learn to love the simple things in life more than the material things. Memories are priceless and worth far more than a Vuitton Handbag.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tribes and More

One thing I used to hear a lot of from locals was scorn at local families who were not "Pure" Emiratis.
What could be classified as a "Pure" emirati? Well from my years in UAE I understood it to mean the Tribes that came to UAE originally when it was just desert and sea and settled there and began to create the UAE as it is today.
The ones deemed not "Pure" were those that came later from Iran, Saudi etc.

Most of my friends were from some of the original tribes such as Bani Yas, Bu Shams, Al Nuaimi etc.
The family I had most connection with because of "O" was the Al Shamsi's, of the powerful Bu Shams Tribe. The Al Shamsi's are related to the ruling Al Nahyan family. The late Shaikh Zayed's wife Shaikha Fatima is said to have the same tribal origin.
The Al Shamsi's were the independant rulers of Hamriya in Sharjah until they lost power after the invasion in the 1960's and Hamriya port became under the Rule of Sharjah (O told me this happened because the Al Shamsi's did not want to join what is now the 7 Emirates, how true this is I do not know but most Al Shamsi's I knew told the same story).

The Al Shamsi's today are still a very prominant UAE family and many of the ruling family are married to women of the Bu Shams tribe. Some of the branches of the Bu Shams tribe are families such as Al Owais, Taryam etc And supposedly the Bu Shams tribe ranches off from the Al Nuaimi's (the current Ajman rulers).

The Bani Yas tribe is one of the largest and the Al Nahyan family which is a branch of Al Falahi decended from this tribe as well as the Al Maktoums which are a branch of the Al Falasi.
The Tribes of UAE is quiet a complex thing to explain. I got most of my knowledge, be it right or wrong from long long talks over many years with the people around me.
The Bani Yas consists of several branches which are
Al Rumaithi
Al Falahi
Al Falasi
Al Hameli
Al Suwaidi
Al Marar
Al Mazroai
Al Mehairbi
Al Mehairi
Al Qeamzi
Al Qubaesi

So if not from one of the big tribes (from those I have mentioned or others that are famous for being the first to enter the lands now know as UAE and settle), does this deem the families as not "Pure"?
Well from all the comments I heared over the years it appears being from the original tribes deems you to be original Emirati. I used to get told all the time when I mentioned a family name "Oh they are persian really" or "They pretend to be Emirati but they are not one of us, they are Saudi originally" and the worst one "Break his leg and you will find Iranian Sxxt instead of bone". It used to really annoy me to be honest. I can understand the pride at being from one of the founding Tribes but at the end of the day if you are now Emirati then you ARE Emirati.

I dont think any family in the future can claim to be pure Emirati considering how many Emirati men now marry foreign wives. The founding families used to marry from their own tribes or from other founding tribes of the trucial states, kind of keeping things in the tribe/family. But by marrying outside of the tribe especially to someone not even from the Gulf then you have diluted that so called pureness forever so how can you scorn a family who have only lived in UAE for 100 or 150 years when your own family is being diluted around you?

Even now after over 7 years of being away from UAE, if you throw a local family name at me I can probably tell you where it originally came from, if its from one of the founding Tribes or from families who came much later to start business and stayed. Thats because I had it drummed into me for years and years and got to know just about every family name from the original Tribes.

Rascim is rapant everywhere in the world, claims of pureness to unpureness in the Arabian Gulf States, Caste systems in the Asian countries, even here in UK there are those that claim to be 100% British (oh do I laugh at that one). My family as far as I know have always lived in the UK but I am not 100% pure British, infact a family member recently traced our family tree on my mothers, mothers side and guess what??? We traced ourselves back to Turkish farmers in Turkey lol. On my fathers mothers side 200 hundred years ago from Spain and further back than that from Arabia, hence why I am so arabian looking and so is my dad.

Take America as an example, I have been told by a few American friends that they hail from the founding families so are 100% American and critise immigrants who now have USA passport for not being really American. Sorry, not true, who lived in America before the Europeans arrived??? It was the Native Indian's so if anyone is 100% American it is them, not the boat loads of immigrants who landed on the shores and claimed the country as their own and then who critise new immigrants for becoming citizens (probably gonna piss a few people off with that one).

Pride in where you originally come from is important but it does not deem anyone not originally from your particular country any less of a human or citizen or make you more important than them.

More Memories, Thoughts and Old Photos of The Time I Was There

My life in Dubai and UAE at the begining was very simple and that was because life was very simple. There was not the greed, flashiness and boasting of who you know, what you have etc as there is today.

When I lived there I took life for what it was, it was not always easy and because virtually my entire time there was spent with the Emirati people I got to experience what I like to call the real Emirati life. Looking back now I had quite a privileged life, virtually everyone I knew was a government VIP or something similar, but that had no importance to me, I did not even think anything of it. To me they were just friends who treated me kindly, and who created wonderful memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life and never once back then did I open my mouth and boast about who I knew or use any of my friends to break the rules of UAE and get me things I wanted or to sort something out much faster than the procedure set in place by the UAE government. To do that just never entered my head.

My late partner Omran used to be the Minister of Labour (before I came out to UAE) and one of his best friends Ali was the Minister of Immigration at the same time. Without labour and immigration you just could not function in UAE as an expat. So you can imagine how popular O and A were back then. Omran told me many people befriended him and then later expected him to use "Wasta" to get them what they wanted.
Omran always told me to never use Wasta to get something done governement or legal wise, he told me to always stick by the rules of the country and wait to get things done in the proper time, to not show to others that you know people of importance and can break the rules because of who you know. He also once told me that even some of his own people claimed to be more important than they really were but in reality no one had any real power unless they were the rulers and the others that used who they knew to break the rules were just idiots who liked to pretend they were something of importance.
I remember a conversation with Omran when I failed my first driving test in UAE, he told me "I can go now and get your license without you re-sitting your driving test, you know the chief of police and he knows of you, but why should you not have to sit your test because your know people who can break the rules if asked when others do not and have to re-sit 4, 5 or 6 times?, what makes you more special than them? Because you know people of importance? I can do it now loulou, but I want you to hold your head high when you decide to leave UAE and know everything you did you did it the right way and did not abuse the power fo the people around you". His words stayed with me my entire time in UAE.

Let me give you a couple of examples of how Wasta is used in the incorrect way.

  1. A woman who is married to a local of a Gulf country ends her marraige for whatever valid reasons and then goes to court and ends up loosing her child even though she plans to stay in the Gulf. The child is a baby, according the the law of Islam that child should stay with its mother. Yet the judge goes totally against Islam and gives full rights to its father. How so??? I am 100% sure because of Wasta. Because he knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone who could swing it in his favour despite what Islam says. Thats is wrong 100%

  2. A family from Palestine who have lived in the Gulf and UAE most of their life, who were given UAE passport for years, then someone changed the rules and thousands did not have their passport renewed thus leaving them stateless. This particular head of the family had contacts years ago even one of his best friends being the ruler of one of the emirates. That ruler died, as did most of his contacts and he was left with no one to help him. However the Palestinian neighbour next door, in UAE half the length of time did have a contact, who knew someone, who knew someone, who used Wasta to get the passport back for the family. How is that fair??? Its wrong 100%.

Using Wasta to break the rules set by a government in my opinion is nothing but corruption unless its used to reverse a decision initially made using Wasta ie: if the mother of a lost child used Wasta to get the corrupted court order reversed to get her child back.

We all complain about the corrupt leaders of Islamic countries such as Syria, Egypt and Libya, but if you like to get your stuff done outside of the rules set by the governement because of who you know, then your using corruption to break the law/rules even if its something as simple as getting your visa fines removed because it was your fault you overstayed.

So in all the years I lived there never once did I rush through my visa, get my driving license without sitting my test or anything else that made life easier because I knew people who could get it done for me, and I am very proud of that. I am also proud of the fact that when my life changed and became like hell and I was faced with having to run away because of my baby daughter I never once went to anyone I knew and asked for help especially financially and despite coming back to UK to zero and not even a place to sleep that night, I can hold my head high and say I never abused or used a friendship in all those years.
End of Wasta rant lol.

One of my favorite things to do in UAE was go into the mountains of Fujeriah and Dibba in long convoys of 4x4's loaded up with wood and mountains of spiced chicken and lamb and we would all sit in the moonlight in the dirt, rocks and sand and BBQ all night, listen to friends recite poetry, play oud and drums and sing until the sun began to rise. I was not into shopping and buying luxury goods or dressing up and trying to impress people at mundane parties. I liked to be out there in the natural expances of UAE doing all the things I would not normally do in UK.
Omran's cousin H, taught me how to hunt with falcons one weekend, he used to train Sheikh Zayed's falcons years ago and travelled with him when he went hunting so he had immense experience and knowledge. I loved going into the desert and hunting for the local mushrooms that grow under the sand, to find the plants in the desert you can eat. My friends taught me so much about the old local life and those events will stay forever in my memory bank.

Sometimes we would drive to Abu Dhabi which took forever because the road was so terrible. We did not go too often in the early days so my visual memories of Abu Dhabi are not very good as to how it was compared to how it started changing late 1990's

Occasionally we would go to Nad Al Sheba (the old one not the new one) and watch the horse racing. We were always lucky enough to get to sit in the royal box and I was once spotted on tv as the camera's panned on Sheikh Mohammed who was sitting about 5 rows in front of me shoving a sandwich into my mouth like I had never eaten before. Very embarresing to see that pop up on the news later that evening lol.

Thats enough of my memories today, I have so many more but the majority I will never share with anyone because its not the right thing to do.

Here are a few more photos of the Dubai of my time, this is how it looked when I first arrived and these are the images I prefer to keep at the forefront of my mind, because I believe it was more beautiful then.

An aerial shot of Dubai as you came in to land

Sheikh Zayed Road as it was in my early days

Workman walking up SZR

A view of SZR as if your coming from Abu Dhabi Virtually NO buildings at all

SZR view coming from Abu Dhabi

The tallest building in Dubai at the time and view of start of SZR

View of SZR mid 1990's when they began to build apartment blocks

View of the skyline mid 1990's, see virtually no buildings on the horizon

Beach Road mid 1990's

Maktoum Street, hardly any traffic, this is how I remember it as I drove up and down here everyday

The clock tower near Maktoum Street during rush hour

Friday, 19 August 2011

Remembering The Old Days & The Night I First Arrived in Dubai

Gosh it was so long ago.

It was the begining of the 1990's and I flew to Dubai by Air Lanka. The flight was almost empty because in those days not many people visited Dubai or UAE and that was because most people had never even heared of it let alone knew where it was.

When the flight landed you had to climb down the plane steps and onto an old bus which took you to this tiny building which was Dubai Airport. As soon as you went through the doors you were at passport control. Then straight through to baggage claim, it took just a few minutes from stepping off the plane to waiting for your bags to appear.

Then you stepped outside the airport building. The night I arrived the airport was virtually empty. As I stood outside waiting for "O" who was pretending to hide from me, I only saw 4 other people lol.

Here is a photo of how the airport more or less looked when I first arrived.

The main western expats back then were British, and it was rare to meet expats from any other western countries, well I never did until about 1995/96.

I do remember seeing the occasional German tourist on the beach at the Chicago Beach Hotel and they seemed to be the main tourists who had found UAE and realised it made a nice holiday destination.

Life was wonderful back then, you really got a feel for the rich culture of UAE, unlike today where its so westernised that you would think you were in USA not UAE.

If you were driving back to Dubai from somewhere like Al Ain, you knew you were nearly there because you could see the Trade Centre on the horizon, and YES the trade center was the tallest building in UAE at that time, hard to believe now as it is dwarfed by all the buildings on Sheikh Zayed Road now.

Apart from the Trade Center one of the first BIG buildings in Dubai was the Hard Rock Cafe, stuck out all on its on along SZR, and the first real high rise apartments were the original ones at the start of SZR near the trade centre (and they are still there today).

The road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi was a nightmare because it was basically one lane each way and loads of speed bumps, so it took forever to get to Abu Dhabi. Eventually around 1995/96 they began to change the road and make more lanes.

People in Abu Dhabi would drive into Dubai to shop as there were virtually no shopping malls in Abu Dhabi. Even in Dubai in those early days you were limited with Deira City Centre (which they built after I arrived), Burjuman, Lamcy Plaza (again built after I arrived) Al Ghurair, Wafi and Al Mulla Plaza.

When Deira City Centre opened it was the most exicting thing to hit UAE and there were huge que's across the bridge to reach it.

The Dubai/Sharjah road was something else, I have mentioned this before on my blog but it was 2 lanes each side with virtually nothing either side of the road but sand and a few cafes selling shawarma. If you were in a taxi on the dubai/sharjah road and there was a traffic Jam the driver would just drive off into the desert and reach Sharjah that way as did most other people lol. You could also drive off on the sharjah/dubai side and reach the sea and we often did that and fished in the evenings until they began to do something that pushed the sea out and then they built on it.

Places expats liked to spend their spare time were Panchos Villas, The Highland Lodge (where most expats met up at the weekend), George and Dragon, Hard Rock Cafe, The Country Club.

Everyone spoke to you, unlike today in UAE, locals and expats mixed freely and enjoyed each others company. The only cinema to show english speaking movies was Al Nasr.

Ikea was in Karama and was easy to get to and shop in and a fav with expats.

The only English channel back then was channel 33 which started at 3pm and finished quite early in the evening. I remember watching Martha Stewart and Bold and Beautiful but other than that there was not much else to watch until Star TV hit UAE.

Newspapers were sold at the traffic lights by overheated Indian boys and you could also get your back and front car windows washed while waiting for the lights to turn green.

Most shops back then closed between 1pm and 4pm and most of the day on Friday.

Here is a great Video and Song of Old Dubai, brings back many happy memories as when I arrived it was almost the same as the pics in the video.

Other things I remember were haggling with taxi drivers before you got in the taxi, they had no meters so you set the fare before getting in.

Bartering for almost everything especially electrical goods as there were virtually no fixed price shops outside of the few shopping malls.

I remember when Mirdif had but a couple of villas's on it, one of which was my friend Sheikh Saqr's. Taxi drivers got lost in Mirdif as it was virtually all desert.

That was the real UAE, not as it is today.

On a forum recently, those in UAE prior to 2000 were discussing how life was hard, but so good back then and someone asked if any of the old timers get annoyed with newer expats constantly moaning about this and that. The answer was more or less yes, and that view was formed by the fact that most people new to UAE these days arrive with certain expectations of what life "should" be like in UAE and when things dont go according to plan they wonder why they came.

However people who have been here a long time or arrived as I did many years ago have seen how things have developed and how they developed and have seen how quickly things get done and the amazing way that the infrastructure etc has been implemented.

People forget that they come from towns that took hundreds of years to develop where Dubai/AD have basically done it in 20/30 years.

Unless you have been in UAE prior to 2000 you probably find it hard to understand how different things were back then and how wonderful it really was compared to today. Those that were around in the old days almost always say the old was better than the new today.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Diabetis, long daylight hours and full time working

I have been unable to fast since Ramadan started.
I have an appointment with my doctor tommorow morning for results of my recent blood sugar levels (I am diabetic Type 2) and I am certain she will tell me not to fast this Ramadan due to the long daylight hours.

In the UK this year Ramadan is very difficult, Fajr and fasting starts at roughly 2.47am and Iftar is roughly 8.45pm which means roughly 18 hours of being unable to eat or drink.
Not really a problem, however I work full time, up at 5.30am, leaving the house before 7.20am and not home again until 6.30pm

I have a child who needs taking care of as well, so its not an option for me to sleep when I get home until Iftar. It means I have roughly 6 or 7 hours to break my fast, get a decent amount of sleep so I can function in my job and also eat at surhoor.
So that means an hour of eating and drinking for Iftar, sleep on a full stomach for 2 or 3 hours wake up again, pray, have more food and drink and again sleep on a full stomach without the food digesting so I can grab another 2 hours of sleep.
I tried it for one day and realised I could not do it this year. 2 hours of food and liquid was not enough to sustain me through the long day unless I cut my sleep hours down to 2 or 3, which is impossible.

Already my diabetis causes me to fight tiredness through the day and I often struggle with my concentration.
Although I am not on Insulin (I take Metaformin), the very short hours to eat/drink also has to fit in my daily sleep, either way it is detrimental to my health.
I actually cried today because I felt such a failure at not being able to perform Ramadan.

I have decided to fast during Ramadan on saturdays where I can sleep during the day, then stay up until early hours of sunday, the rest of the days I am having to miss I plan to make up during the winter months when the daylight hours are very short and it will not affect my diabetis and my sleep.
Last year we were in Dubai for Ramadan, previous years I only worked partime and was able to take time off during Ramadan, but this year with the exception of this friday, I am unable to take anytime off work during Ramadan.
I have decided to book next Ramadan off work, so I am able to eat properly without rushing and be able to sleep for as long as my body needs after the fast starts.

I am sure even non diabetics in Europe are suffering this ramadan especially those that work full time. Trying to quench your thirst and ensure you eat enough and get enough sleep to be able to function is very difficult.
I know if you have an illness you can refrain from fasting, I have not done this before, but this year sadly I have had to.
My brother in law in Abu Dhabi is insulin dependant diabetic and he fasts, however he gets to rest from 2pm onwards until the fast is broken, also the hours of daylight in the Middle East are much shorter than here in the UK.
Friday, 22 July 2011

Very Emotional Quran Recitation

Saad Al-Ghamidi is one of my favorites at reciting the Quran, I have many MP3's on my Ipod and most make me cry when listening to them.

When he recites Surah Hud, he begins to cry, it is very emotional and you feel the love in his heart for Allah and the Quran, MashaAllah.

Listening to him break down while reciting reminded me of my sweet mother-in-law. I was listening to her pray once and she became so choked up, tears fell from her eyes as she prayed.

I break down always when I hear the call for prayer from the mosque but they are tears of love and happiness, not sadness.
Sunday, 17 July 2011

Ramadan is coming

I think Ramadan is going to be hard this year.
I work longer hours now and do not get home until around 6.30pm, so once I get home and cook, stuff something in my mouth come Iftar, it will be time for bed again.

Ramadan in UK I do feel is difficult, for one thing, my office is open plan, 24 colleagues all chowing down on something scrummy while I am sitting there dying to lick the water out of the plant pot because I am so thirsty.
However its worth it in the end, I hope to loose a few kilo's again this year as well.

I miss Ramadan in UAE, I LOVED IT, in UAE. I fasted and took part in Ramadan way before I was a muslim.
Every evening after I broke the fast, I would drive on over to my best friend Fay's house and we would go out somewhere with her Emirati husband, when we had finished for the evening I would drive through Hamriya in Dubai to "O's" house and he would come out to say hello and bring me plates of yummy stuff to eat before fasting began again.
I never saw much of "O" during Ramadan as he was well known in Hamriya for opening up his house to all his friends, family and neighbours and there would often be almost 100 people there all being fed, playing backgammon and talking until the sun began to rise EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. His son "M" always had a tent out the front where all the young locals used to sit and do whatever they do.

Some evenings we would go sit in the Iftar places down at the creek and sit there all night, sometimes we would be in Ajman or Sharjah. I remember one year Ramadan was during new year 2000. Fay, Jamal and I and their new baby son Obaid spent it in a club house on Sharjah Beach (The Lilly Club), seeing in the new year with our diet pepsi's, we then drove over to a grotty little sheisha shop in Ajman and sat there watching UK bring in 2000 on a little old portable tv. I miss those days a lot.

I guess next week I need to write up my Ramadan menu's and then do a huge food shop for the month so I know what I am cooking each night I get home from work. I think in UK the fast wont be broken until around 9pm, thats a long old day without anything past your lips, but well worth it in the end.

I hope you all have a happy Ramadan
Thursday, 7 July 2011

Spas hawk sex on networking sites

Another great story today in Gulf News
gulfnews : Spas hawk sex on networking sites

This is one of the main reasons the UAE government MUST close down all salons and spa's whos staff are not at least NVQ qualified in Beauty, Hair and Spa treatments, plus be a member of one of the Beauty industry organisations such as CIDESCO, CIBTAC or BABTAC.

In UAE they allow anyone to open up shop and trade. Its 100% wrong and the government needs to change the criteria for running a salon or spa.

Properly qualified staff will demand a much higher salary than the unprofessionals, they would also have studied for minimum 1 year to 3 years and would not risk their professional status by working in a knocking shop.

Gulfnews : Unpaid loan causes problems for UAE resident

I read this sad story in Gulf News today.

This highlights the fact that not all Emirati's are loaded with cash. Infact a large majority just scrape by each month, in debt up to their eyeballs. I saw many cases like this when I was in UAE, its very sad.

gulfnews : Unpaid loan causes problems for UAE resident

I believe this man should be allowed to renew his passport so he can find work, what a silly rule to not renew his passport making the entire family suffer. Without the passport he cant work, without work he cant pay his loans off, its a never ending story.
Thursday, 30 June 2011

What Kind Of Muslim Am I?

How would I sum myself up as a Muslim?
I am one of the most honest people around, I say what is in my heart, admit when I am wrong and try never to judge anyone.

First and foremost I love Allah, sometimes I talk to him in my mind when I am on the way to work, sometimes I well up with tears from love for Allah when I am apologising to him for not always being strong with my deen.
I know Allah knows everything about my life, the suffering I have been through and what drove me to stop wearing Hijab for 5 years etc and I know it was Allah that gave me my strength to overcome everything in my life and go each day forward no matter how sad I feel inside with a massive smile on my face.

I have always been known both in UAE and here in the UK for the naughty glint in my eye, my cheeky constant smile and my very very bubbly personality. Even during the black times I still kept that smile going. At work they call me Ms Double Entendre because sometimes the way I say things can be taken as quite cheeky and it makes the office double up with laughter. As an example the parks dept came to trim the bushes outside our office so I shouted through to Karen the office manager "Karen the mans here to trim your bush" I will leave it to your imagination why everyone ended up laughing.
I cant change the way I am, to think hard before I shout something out to make sure it does not have a cheeky meaning too. My personality was given to me by Allah and I refuse to change the way I was created just to please another muslim who thinks I am shameful.

Since wearing hijab after 5 years without I have got the most amazing response from my clients. I deal with people who have some major mental health issues, are racist etc etc, yet because they knew me before Hijab they accepted me the same with Hijab, just they were very suprised I was muslim because in their minds Muslim women were not cheeky, smiling, happy, bubbly, chatty people.

In Islam its supposed to be haram to be alone with a male who is not a relative, but in my job I often have to visit a male alone in his house. I was recently told by one over zelous revert that I should change my job as it was haram. Sorry at the end of the day I love my job, it has put food on my table for my child, clothed her and put a roof over her head for the past 7 years. I know my manager would let me visit women households only if I asked but I do not want to be treated differently to my work collegues, we work as part of a close knit team and I do not want special treatment. Allah knows how hard I work, knows that I do good for the people I visit especially the elderly and it is his judgement only I will accept.

My manager Jan and I were talking the other day about muslim woman being alone with a non relative male and she told me about an Asian muslim woman she managed when she was a Housing Manager in London. This woman got so much grief from the muslim Asian community for doing the job I do now, for visiting people alone in their homes, she got threats and all sorts, told she was haram, she would go to hell etc but a year of ignoring their comments and showing them she was not giving up her job to please them, these ultra conservative muslim leaders began to see the good she was doing in the community and eventually they became 100% on her side and much good was done in the predominantly muslim housing areas of London.

I live my life as a muslim, I respect myself, respect others, follow Islam as best I can but to survive I may not do things the way some muslims think I should, I do things that are true to my heart and true to what I believe is right for my life and Allah knows whatever I do is 100% from my heart and not done just to try secure a place in Jannah when my heart really did not agree and want to do it.
I hope that all makes sense to those that read.
Sunday, 19 June 2011

Blogger Templates

I have been busy this weekend creating new blogger templates to offer for free download from my graphic site "The Fairy Path".

I purchased a program called Artisteer some months ago and have only just got around to designing some stuff.
Each template is fully set up with all the colours, graphics and layout and all graphics are hosted on my own server. Once I have them online for everyone to download all you need to do is email me so I can customise the header with your Blog title then upload the template file into Blogger.

This current blogger template on my Blog is one of my creations.
Monday, 30 May 2011

My first week back in Hijab

My first week back into Hijab went sooooo well.
My work collegues loved the different colours of shayla I wore all matched perfectly with my outfits, infact my manager "Janet" was so pleased to see I was not going to be dressed head to toe in black.

Members of the public who came into my office and suddenly realised it was me under that headscarf and were really shocked to discover I was actually a muslim. "I never knew you were muslim, why did you not tell us", well considering most people come into my office to complain about their neighbours, dog crap all over the pavement or the fact their bedroom has damp, its a bit silly to assume I would say to them "Ok dont worry I will arrange a surveyor to assess your damp bedroom wall, oh and by the way I am a muslim, would you like to read Quran with me"

As to what I now wear, well same as before really with the exception that under everything I wear a long sleeved lycra top, I bought loads of new tops all with shaylas that somehow match perfectly. Peacock Blue, Festival Pink, Cranberry Red etc etc. My manager comes out each morning now to see what I have put together for the day lol.

I feel at peace now back in Hijab, because I did it because my heart wanted to do it. I may have been out of Hijab for a long time but Allah knows what was in my heart.
I do miss my Emirati style hijab but its not for the UK to be honest and also my husband does not like it. My Emirati way of life ended the day I left UAE and now I live a different kind of life so I have adapted what I now wear.
I may post some pics sometime inshaAllah
Thursday, 26 May 2011

Deceitful Men

I was reading a really good post on an online friends blog about men who lie and are deceitful to women to try to get a woman to marry them.

I decided to share some of the deceitful and time wasting men who asked me for marraige when I first became a muslim, one of which I actually married.

Not many people know about my first Islamic marraige, its not something I have ever wished to make public knowledge. I guess in reality it caused me so much shame, I kept the story hidden away, but decided to share it today.

Deceitful Man # One
When I converted to Islam way back in 1999, I lived with a local family (husband was local, wife was Pakistani from a very prominant Pakistani Family (her father is Pir Pagara I decided that I wanted to complete my deen in Islam and get married. I had quite a few people ask for me and one of which was a Qatari man who told me his name was Thamer. He flew over from Qatar to meet me and proposed marraige. He worked for Al Jazeera TV and had a very high position. I agreed to marry him and with the help of the family I lived with it was decided that we would fly to Karachi and have our marraige performed at the beautiful house of Pir Pagara's daughter. Because "Thamer" wanted to get married quickly, the family I lived with did not fly over with us, however the driver and servants were there to meet us and take us to the house and some Pakistani friends also came to the house to be witnesses.
Two weeks before the wedding "Thamer" sent me 5,000 dirhams to buy a ring and whatever else I needed, so I bought a very expensive abaya from Burjuman (cost almost 3,000 dirhams) and my wedding ring plus extra money for the deposit and 3 months rent in advance for a villa on Ajman Corniche where I decided I wanted to live so I could be close to my best friend Fay while "Thamer was in Qatar and overseas with Al Jazeera.
Anyway we flew to Karachi (first class) and the Imam's came to the house and we were married. Unknown to me was the fact that "Thamer" had set my mahr at $1. I was a new muslim and did not know that someone was supposed to ask me what I wanted or tell me what was in the contract.
We then got driven to one of Karachi's top hotels and stayed in a beautiful suite for the night.
On my wedding night, I felt so uneasy as "Thamer" kept dissapearing into the bathroom with his phone, I dont know why but it just made me feel uneasy.
The next day we flew back to Dubai, again First Class and were met at Dubai airport by a limosine. I told Thamer we had to go to the farm in Alawir as all the family and my local friends wanted to congratulate us and I know they had laid on a huge feast and Omran had ordered a sheep to be slaughtered in our honor. "Thamer seemed annoyed at this and was very reluctant for us to go, which again I found very unseasy and strange. I insisted and told him it would be such bad manners especially as this family had looked after me for a long time and treated me as one of the family. We reached the farm and everyone was waiting to greet us. I got showered with gifts of gold and clothes and we ended up staying for a couple of hours only.

I then took my car and drove us towards the Kapinski Hotel where we had a suite booked for one night as "Thamer" had told me before the wedding that he would have to leave the third day for business in Sudan.
As we drove towards the Corniche I suggested we stop at our new villa so he could take a look. He refused and said he would look once he came back from his trip (again I found this so uneasy and strange). We continued onto the Kapinski and stayed the night.
Next morning I drove "Thamer" to Dubai airport and dropped him for his flight and he said he would call me later and hoped to be back in a week or two.

That was the last time I ever saw or spoke to "Thamer" again.
4 Days went past with no phone call or contact, I was deeply upset, I thought something terrible had happened. I tried to call him but his phone was switched off. I was still living with the family during this time as was waiting for Thamer to return so we could furnish the villa and move in.

7 Days after my wedding, the husband of the local family I lived with came home from his company and told me to sit with him. He told me "Thamer" had called him at the office and told him he could no longer be married to me because his wife had found out he had taken another wife (apparently he already had a wife and 4 children), he told my friend that he had sent me 20,000 dirhams to an exchange house and I could collect it that day and it was his way of saying sorry, then he closed the phone.
I was totally devistated, not only devistated I was so ashamed, what would everyone think. Oh the shame, it was the most awful time of my life.
I was also really angry but the family told me to keep my head held high and sent me out to collect the money he had sent.

I collected the money and decided to use it to buy furniture for the villa he had made me rent and to move into it and then try to find a way to pay the rest of the rent for the year.
So the next few weeks were spent on endless trips to Ikea and finally I moved into the little villa and decided that as I had done nothing wrong I had nothing to really be ashamed of.
3 months after the wedding I recieved and email from a lawyer in Dubai telling me I was being divorced and I had to call him so he could tell me when the case would be heared at Ajman Sharia Court. I called the lawyer and demanded to know why "Thamer" had done this to me. He refused to answer and said it would be discussed at the court.

The day of the Divorce came and my best friends local husband Jamal came to the court with me. "Thamer" was not there, only his lawyer and he put the case before the judge. The judge listened and then turned to me, I just burst into tears. It was all performed in arabic with Jamal as my translator. The judge was totally horrified by the entire case, he was disgusted that "Thamer" who I found out during the divorce hearing was actually called "Adulaziz" (so he lied to me about his name) could not even bother attending to face me and had given power over to his lawyer to act on his behalf, he was disgusted that a born muslim man could knowingly take a new muslim and treat her in such a way and he was disgusted because he could tell that this marraige was never meant to be for life, it was obvious to him "Thamer" had taken me as a wife just to spend a lustful time with and he felt he knew this because my mahr had been set at $1.

The judge granted the divorce, however he told the lawyer that before it was granted "Thamer" had to agree to pay rent in full on the villa for one entire year and to give me an additional 5,000 dirhams ontop of the 20,000 dirhams he had given me previously as a kind of payoff.

So for 2 nights with this deceitful man I got a villa for one year and 25,000 dirhams, made me feel a bit like a high class hooker to be honest.
Funny thing is, 2 years later I was sitting having coffee with an old Qatari friend of mine who I had not seen for 3 years and I told him the story of my marraige and he looked shocked and said "Oh my God, so your the girl Abdulaziz married", he then told me he knew my ex husband and told me that he had been married at 16 to his cousin, and because he was devout (haha) he could not cheat on his wife or on the rules of Islam, so he searched out a new muslim, to marry her, to enjoy for the weekend and then get divorced so sex was not haram. Sadly for me, he chose ME.
So that is the story I have kept hidden for years and from so many people.

Deceitful Man # Two
Well after Deceitful Man # One experience I decided to be careful. I met a local called Taha (if I was a Biotch I would state his surname here for all to see, but I wont do that incase his American wife is a blog reader.
I met Taha and we used to speak on the phone many times a day, we met a few times and he wanted to take things further. He told me he had never been married but wanted to settle down and have kids. He worked for the UAE Army and one day he told me they were posting him to Cyprus for training for 8 months and I asked him if he wanted me to wait for him to return ie: not talk to anyone else about marraige etc.
Taha told me "Yes" he really wanted that and we promised to keep intouch via email while he was away and I would keep myself for him until he returned and then we would decide what to do.
So he apparently left for Cyprus and I used to email each day letting him know what I was up to etc, he did email also but only about 2 times a week. After 4 months I began to get a little bored of waiting but as I had promised him, I continued to keep myself for him and not talk to anyone else who asked about marraige. About 7 months after he supposedly left UAE I went to call a friend on my mobile and accidently hit his number instead. He answered the phone and as soon as I recognised his voice I asked him "When did you come back", he closed the phone on me. Then he called me back and said he had arrived the night before and wanted to suprise me.
We agreed to meet the following day in the car park of Al Mulla Plaza (Taha is from Abu Dhabi). When we met, Taha said he had something to tell me, he had lied about being in Cyprus and had been in UAE all this time, he just wanted to know I was dedicated.
I was so upset and angry but because I am too soft for my own good I forgave him.
After this episode, more strange things happened. Once he wanted me to drive to meet him in Abu Dhabi and when I was on my way he texted me to tell me a load of his family had been killed in a car crash and he could not meet me (I had reached Abu Dhabi by the time I actually looked at the messege) so I had to drive all the way back to Ajman again.
I began to really get annoyed now, there was nothing on the news about and entire family from Abu Dhabi being wiped out in a car crash and I began to realise this guy had a serious problem which involved lying. So I just stopped contact and tried to put the yet again almost 1 year of wasted life behind me. It was the upset and anger at this latest liar that I ended up rushing into marraige with Imanes father (if you have read my blog you will know how nasty he turned out to be).

Rolling on a year and a bit I had just given birth to Imane and was at home in Abu Dhabi where I was then living, I had just fed Imane and it was about 4am in the morning when my mobile rang. I answered and it was Taha, he sounded drunk and he began to ask how I was. I told him I had married and just 10 days before given birth to my daughter. He then began to talk really haram, telling me he wished he had Fxxxed me back then, he really regreted not doing that as I turned him on and how he knows I really need his "Mr Pecker". I told him he wasted a year of my life, that I had just given birth and how dare he call me and talk filth at 4am and then closed the phone.
Next day I got another call on my mobile from a woman with an American accent, she demanded to know who I was and why the hell was I talking to he husband. I then realised this snake was a married man, not only deceiving me but cheating on his wife not physically but almost as bad. I could of told his wife A-Z but I politly told her Taha was an old friend, that I was married and had given birth just 10 days prior and Taha had called to congratulate me. After I closed the phone I realised the kids he used to put on the phone to talk to me claiming they were his brothers kids were actually his own.
Why the heck would a sane man make a woman be faithful and wait for him for no reason, maybe he enjoyed the thought of this, who knows what was in his warped mind.
When I came back to UK in 2004 I once wrote to Taha and asked him why he lied, and told him his wife had called me that night and why he denied her existance thus lying to not one but two people and his kids. He did write back but did not answer my questions, just wrote about how he was blah blah blah.

So there you have it. Men can be deceitful I have experienced it and it is not only totally haram but the worst thing to have to have done to you. I pray to Allah that no one goes through what I did. I was stupid in reality to believe everything I was told. Omran offered to run background checks on anyone I talked to as he had the means to find out A-Z about anyone due to him working for interpol but I told him to butt his nose out of my business and its the silliest thing I ever did as I could have saved myself a lot of pain and shame.
Friday, 20 May 2011

Back to Hijab

Well tommorow I am back in Hijab.
Its been a long time coming and not sure really why I stopped wearing it.

I do a difficult job, visit people in their homes, alone and some have mental health issues, drug abuse issues and racism issues. I think before I met and married my husband I stopped wearing it because I was worried about my safety on the job.
Anyway it was my choice back then, Allah knows everything and it is him who will judge me "Only".

In UAE I wore Khaleeji style hijab and loved it, but it is not suitable for UK and to be honest my husband does not like that style.
I will continue to wear my normal clothes (mainly trousers/jeans) however I have invested in a number of different coloured long sleeved lycra tops to wear under anything I have with short sleeves. I have also purchased both in UAE and here the most beautiful and colourful shayla's and cant wait to hit the street.

I am wondering what people on the bus will think monday morning. We get the same bus everyday, they are used to seeing my hair and will probably be sitting there monday thinking "what the heck is this woman wearing" lol.
One of my work collegues "Michael" told me, "but we have seen your hair so what is the point of now covering it", so I told him, "Well when it gets luciously long and glossy or I change my style you wont get to see it will you", he did laugh at that.

Life is pretty good at the moment. I am so tired however. I wake at 5.30am each day, drop Imane to school, make my way to the office and we dont get home until 6.30pm. I then cook a meal from scratch and before you know it, its time for bed.
Husband is due to finish his 3 year Bsc next week, Imane is finally getting tests and things done for her behaviour issues and gender identity issues (we actually have to travel up to London to the Tavistock Clinic next friday) and we are making plans to return to UAE for good next year InshaAllah.

I hope all of you have a blessed and relaxing weekend InshaAllah
Sunday, 10 April 2011

Salam From UAE

We are having a wonderful time in UAE. This trip I have slowly begun to accept the huge changes to UAE since I left in 2004. Its not easy and I miss the old UAE but that is never coming back so I just have to accept the way it is. My husbands family are fantastic alhamdulillah, I love them all so much and they have all fully embraced me into the family. I adore my mother-in-law Ruwaida and also my sister-in-laws, Abeer, Nayla, Shireen, Mona and Tahleel. We have had quite a few girls shopping trips where I have treated myself to some really nice pieces of jewellery. I purchased a very long chain with a beautiful pendant on it which says MashaAllah and today bought my daughter a chain with Allah on it as well as a beautiful Islamic set which incorporates the Iranian stone Fairuz (not sure if spelt right) and little diamonds and the word Allah. My mum in law is the best cook and we have been eating loads of Palestinian dishes. We had a full sheep friday, something I used to detest, however it was so tasty and completly different to the Khaleeji way of cooking Lamb. Imane has fallen in love with Bamia a dish made with ocra and begs for it breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have found out that the way I speak Arabic is 100% Khaleeji, so my in laws are teaching me the Palestinian way to say things. I became a bit like a British Bedu while living in UAE all those years as I mixed with Khaleeji only. Its strange to drive around UAE now. Anyone who came to UAE after 2000 really has no idea about the old UAE. I know I harp on about it a lot but it was so different. You hardly ever saw a western woman adopt the local dress, now everyone seems to be wearing it. Malls were chock a block with locals, now when I shop its hard to spot one, but thats probably due to the amount of Malls here now. Back in the old days we had a limited choice either Lamcy Plaza, Al Ghurair, Wafi, City Center and Burjuman, that was basically it. Can you believe I used to fish behind the Dubai Sharjah road, its hard to believe that now, as it sort of resembles NYC lol and they have got rid of the sea that come through that way. I miss so many things. I have a photo of me which I will scan sometime as I dont think its on my blog. Its of me the first 2 weeks I was in UAE at the begining of 1990, I am standing in Mirdiff, there is nothing there, just desert and one solitary house far in the distance behind me which happens to be the house of my friend Saqar bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Now its unreconisable with all the buildings, malls etc. Ahhhhh the good old days, the days when hardly anyone knew about the UAE, now its a hot holiday destination. I remember the main tourists back in those days were Germans, I used to go to a popular hotel in Jumeriah but it was virtually empty most of the year because UAE was not known to anyone really other than a few adventurious tourists and mainly British expats who were contracted to work in UAE. While here I have been trying to get closer to Islam, after talking with my husband I have decided to start covering my hair again. I need to talk with my manager at work about security issues and they people I deal with (many very racist) but I aim to start wearing it very soon. I will no longer dress like I did before, like a Khaleeji as I am not living the life I had back then. My husbands family do not wear abaya unless they pop to the local supermarket, they dress modestly and cover their hair, thats it. Anyway its storming outside here in Sharjah, everyone is asleep except husband and I, he is studying and I am begining to feel very sleepy to I will call it a night now.
Saturday, 26 March 2011

Did a bit of shopping today

I have been out as early as possible this morning shopping for our trip to Dubai.
I hate shopping, I must be one of the few women who hate it. I like to get in, get out and home ASAP.
My husband Rayed however adores it, he can be out from 9am until 5pm just shopping for a pair of socks, it drives me banana's and I actually always try to come up with an excuse not to go out shopping with him because just to find a simple shirt means, M&S, over to Zara, into debenhams, back to M&S, back to Zara blah blah blah until 6 hours later he buys the first shirt we looked at.

I have been stocking up on Clinque, I hate to admit it but I bought the entire skin care range, including all the anti wrinkle creams, loads of make up and my purse is now roughly £500 lighter (dont tell hubby). I am a DERMALOGICA fan but my skin care regime was costing me roughly £360 ever 6 weeks and I just cant do it financially anymore lol.

Today I bought Imane 2 pairs of shoes from Clarks (gota love clarks shoes for kids), as you all know Imane only wears boys stuff, so I had to sadly shop in the boys section :(
Then got her loads of shorts, TShirts, denim jacket, jeans etc (again from boys sections of M&S and H&M). I got 3 new pairs of lovely summer shoes, loads of clothes that will be suitable for parading around in front of Hubby's family. Even my husband got spoilt, Clinique for men skincare, new CottonCool underpants lol and socks .
(I no longer wear Hijab and my husband does not like me to wear it even when I am in UAE..It is very difficult to wear it in my job anyway, I deal with some very uneducated, racist people who often have severe mental health issues and our daily working life is dangerous without having to do a lone home visit to a racist who has a criminal record while my hair is of my collegues some time ago was kidnapped by a tenant and kept hostage and subjected to sexual abuse for 5 hours, so I do not want to ever put myself in a situation where I am attacked in someones house because they are racist)

While out shopping, I was people watching a bit. As soon as the sun comes out in UK, so do all the sights of summer. Today we had builders bum's galore, ver fat women in transparent white linen trousers with thongs undeneath, so you could see all their dimply flesh wobbling and their butt crack (Yuck, I have a big butt bu no way would I subject the general public to a viewing of it), All the little madams, with skirts up around their ears with those evil fake tans that turn them kind of orange and all the "Chav" single benefit claiming mums pushing the flashest, biggest white/pink or other Chav coloured pram that their £500 maternity grant could buy them (not from UK and not sure what a Chav is, then google it) with their other 5 or 6 kids tagging along.
As well as the above you get the drinkers walking around town clutching their cans of special brew or swigging out of a large bottle of Cider, while swerving all over the pavement drunk as a skunk. Gota love Brighton in the Summer, its pure entertainment.

I am home now, obviously because I am typing away on here. I am sitting wearing my Slendertone Flex Ab Toner belt on full blast, doing 2000 situps while I type and eat a chocolate catapillar. Imane is over the road with her best buddies Nicolas and Felix, hubby is finishing a project for Uni and the cat is sunbathing in the window. I love weekends.
Saturday, 19 March 2011

Beauty Salons in UAE

I used to own quite a large hair and skin care center in Dubai, as I have mentioned on my blog before.
It was on Trade Center Road between Burjuman and the Trade Center.

The basis of the business was treatment rather than somewhere to go to get your face slapped around.
One of the most infuriating things in UAE was the lack of rules on who could run and work in a salon. Basically there were no rules and as I am told, still are no rules. You do not have to be qualified in anyway professionally to offer salon and hair services, which I find totally disgusting.

Here in the UK to become a qualified Beauty Therapist it takes around 3 years at college to achieve your NVQ levels, its hard work. I think UK has some of the most intensive training for therapists anywhere in the world.

To be a good beauty therapist you need to be able to correctly diagnose skin conditions and be able to treat them on the surface, know when to refer someone to a dermatologist and to be able to work out the correct treatment plan and product range for the client. If your not trained how can you do this.
While running the salon and actually working in it hands on as the main therapist I met loads of other salon owners and their staff from the dodgy unprofessional salons that seem to be everywhere in UAE. I once walked into a salon in Karama to see the salon owner sitting over a portable radiator trying to melt the wax covered in some clients hairs, on a fabric wax strip so she could scrape it all off to reuse the strip..YUK, how disgusting is that. The products some of these salons used amazed me, they were cheap, nasty and full of irritating ingrediants. I booked in for one of those 10 treament items for 100 dhs at one salon just to see what was going on. Allah save me, it was the worst experience of my life. To start with the so called therapist did not even ask me anything about my skin, she just began to steam the heck out of my face, started extracting anything on my face that she thought resembled a blackhead (including trying to squeeze a mole off my face), slapped the heck out of it with the most violent facial massage I had ever had. I was then subjected to a face mask which felt like vasaline and finally some very sticky, highly perfumed moisturiser. I came out looking as though someone had slapped me with a frying pan.

In UK you cant not run a salon unless you have professional staff. Companies such as Declor, Guinott, Dermalogica, TIGI etc will not let you use their professional products unless your staff hold a recognised qualification. However in UAE the companies that hold the franchise for professional products sell them to anyone, no qualifications need to be shown.

In my beauty room, before a client had a facial or body treatment, at least 15 - 20 mins was spent talking to the client, asking questions about their skin, analysing it, completing a client skin diagnosis form and finally their skin was mapped. Once this was done I would perform the facial or body treatment to specifically treat the problem they had. Everyone no matter how great their skin looks has a problem or two, be it acne, rosacea, dehydration, excess oiliness, enlarged pores etc etc. Therefore each facial needs to be specific for the skin condition so the client gets the best results possible.
Did you know that if you suffer with acne a therapist should not be slapping your face around during a facial??? You should be having a pressure point massage instead. Often acne can improve from daily gentle exfoliation as a lot of acne cases are caused by an excessive build up of dead skin getting into pores.
Rosacea is another skin condition many people do not realise they have. It causes flushing on forehead and cheeks a bit like a butterfly pattern and often small pustules form under the skin which seem not to break through. Therefore if you have Rosacea the last thing you need is someone to turn on the steamer and then massage your face by roughly slapping and stroking it.

I noticed on my last visit back to UAE that things have still not changed, you have those nasty salons everywhere (normally they call themselves SALOONS). Maybe people find them OK, but in reality your skin is not benefiting in anyway, and being treated incorrectly during a facial can make your skin problem worse.
If you visit a salon for waxing make sure they use either disposable was strips (bit like paper) or you can obviously see they are brand new (fabric ones). Take care to notice the condition of the wax heater also, if you see it all mucky with hairs stuck all over the tin, get the heck out of there.

I wish UAE would bring in proper rules for salons, you would not visit a butcher to get a facelift would you? so why let someone who has no idea about skin or hair (and I mean technical and scientific not how to slap a colour on) touch your face, body or hair.
A good salon will educate you on such things as sun protection, explain the products they are using and how they will benefit you etc etc.

My last bug about UAE and the beauty business is the Beauty Supply shops. Forget the crappy products they sell (they are so awful believe me) its the equipment that worries me. You can walk into somewhere like Nazir Trading and purchase machines without proving you have a qualification. You can use ultrasound, faradic, dermabrasion electrolosis, makeup tatoo machines etc by buying the machine and reading the leaflet that comes with it without any professional training and start using it on clients. That is SO dangerous.

If I come back to UAE I am seriously thinking of opening a very small skin treatment center which specifically treats skin and body problems topically. My brother in law is a plastic surgeon so I am hoping we can work together on this with him prehaps offering non surgical treatments such as botox, fillers when he has time. I love skin and I am passionate about it. I am 44 and have virtually no wrinkles because I take care of my skin, know which products suit my problem (I have had Rosacea since 2006) and protect it from the sun.
When I owned the salon in Dubai I diagnosed at least 2 clients with skin cancer and referred them to a dermatologist who confirmed it (one was a mole on a clients let I noticed during a body scrub, the other was a scab like leasion on a clients neck during a facial). They knew it was there but thought nothing of it, luckily both recieved treatment for it and it was caught before it began to spread and become life threatning.

So if you love going to the salon, spend that little bit extra and make sure your therapist/hairdresser holds a qualification such as NVQ or holds a CIDESCO or BABTAC membership.
Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Not long until our trip back to UAE

We fly end of this month back to UAE
I have missed my husbands family a lot, they are such wonderful people especially my mother-in-law.

My husband is talking about moving back to UAE in the next year or so. I am much older now than when I left, things have changed a lot, I hope I am able to find a job if we move back because I love working, I could not imagine staying home all day. I still have a few contacts there, I would have still had them all if my ex husband had not wiped everyones phone and email's off my mobile while I was in hospital pregnant with Imane.

I am not sure what I would like to do, my background is really in management and Housing Management. I have owned 3 businesses and currently work for the government. Anyway we will see what happens in the next few years. I will probably start another business, its one thing I am good at if you dont mind me blowing my own trumpet lol.

Although when I returned to UAE for the first time last summer, after I was forced to leave in 2004 by my ex husband, I hated what I saw, but I guess part of my heart is still there. I got such a massive shock last summer that my beautiful UAE had become this massive tourist attraction, everything had changed and everyone and their dog seem to now be living there. In my mind I expected it to be as I left it. I still stand by what I said in my post after my last trip back there, about not liking some of the things that go on there, but I was always open about it to my friends when I lived there and I always will dislike those things such as using "Wasta" for personal gain etc and they way people depending on their passport are discriminated against.
We are going for 3 weeks this time so I hope to meet up with old friends as did not have time last visit.

InshaAllah our trip is easy and at least this time the weather will be beautiful, wow how on earth could I forget how hot the summer's used to get, it was a shock to my system last august when I went back.
Wednesday, 26 January 2011

My Daughter

I suffer domestic violence from my 7 year old daughter.
Its a hard thing to admit, but my daughter beats me on a regular basis. Just this weekend, she punched me in the side of my forehead like a man. The punch was so hard it left a lump and bruise as well as scratching my face and ripping my hands to shreds all because I made her come home from playing outside at 4pm when it was about to get dark.

She has been violent for over a year now, not only violence but she also smashes up the house, picking up dining chairs and throwing them across the room. She uses the most disgusting language, spits and is just totally hateful, to ME only.

We have no idea what is causing her to get so angry and lash out so violently. Looking back since she was a toddler and how she is now, she ticks all the boxes for two mental health disorders.
1) Oppositional defiant disorder
2) Pathalogical demand avoidance syndrome
She fits the second one to a "T" including obsessiveness and all the other things that match the symptoms of the syndrome.

She is getting 3 referals, one to a development center where they will aim to get to the bottom of her violence and try to diagnose if she does have the 2 above or something else, such as a hormonal inbalance etc.

On top of all that my daughter may possibly have Gender Dysphoria (AKA Gender Identity Disorder).
For the past 3 years my daughter has wanted to be a boy, she dresses like a boy, refuses to wear girls clothes, has her hair short since last summer and has cut it herself when it grows (we have had to hide all scissors etc). She tells people she is a boy, cries sometimes in the bath begging me not to let her get breasts when she is older otherwise she will cut them off. Tells me all the time she is going to grow a penis when she is older, talks to me about sex change (we have no idea how she even knows about this), gets angry with me because she blames me for making her a girl. It is all so very very sad.
She is now being referred to a famous clinic in London called Tavistock Gender Clinic which deals with children who have Gender Identity confusion, hopefully they can find out whether she actually is mentally a male but physically female, whether something triggered her mentally to despise being a girl (possible, because this all began after I last took her to Zurich to visit her skank of a father, who despite not seeing her for 2 years spent all his time playing with his new son).
The medical person I spoke to yesterday who is putting forward all the referals for my daughter, says one of the reasons Imane may be so violent to me is because of her gender confusion, as though she hates me and blames me for giving her a female body.

As a muslim I worry about my daughter, the gender issue is something I just dont know how I am going to deal with. Whatever the results at the end show, I will love my daughter, nothing changes. But for her as a muslim, what will her future be??? This is what breaks my heart.

The violence makes me physically ill, it is getting worse, my husband and I are worried one day in a rage she will pick up a knife and stab me...but I can deal with this, its the fact maybe she is suffering dreadfully because she was born in the wrong body.
I wanted to share this on my blog because maybe someone out there has gone through this themselves or is going through it right now. I could do with some advice and could do with some prayers.

May Allah bless my daughter always and show us the right way to deal with this. All I want is for my daughter to be happy, to be who she should be and not so angry.
Sunday, 23 January 2011

Going Back To Dubai

I am travelling back to Dubai inshaAllah on 1st April for 3 weeks.
We will be visiting my husbands family again so I am looking forward to that a lot as I love them all so much.

Despite not loving the way Dubai and UAE had changed when I was there last summer, I hope one day I can fall in love with it again. Having family there helps a lot and maybe someday we will be back living there again.

My husband will be studying most of the trip as this is his final year at Uni and he has important projects to complete so Imane and I will be out and about hopefully with my sister-in-laws. I still know my way around the whole of UAE really well despite being back in UK these past 7 years so getting around is easy for me.

All my husbands family live virtually next door to each other. Many years ago the previous ruler of Sharjah gave my father-in-law a large piece of land and he built a huge house on it. Later the house was split into two villa's, my inlaws live in one and my brother-in-law, his wife and 5 kids live in the other. To visit you come out of one door into a hallway and into the other house.
Then later when my other brother-in-law got married he built another villa in the grounds of the land, so we are all near each other.

My brother-in-law who lives in the villa within the grounds is a well known Plastic Surgeon at Rashid Hospital. I was quite suprised when I googled his name how many articles there are on his work, so we are all very proud of him for the surgery he does on patients who have suffered greatly in fires and accidents. His work is mainly repairing damage, not for vanity.

I am currently trying to loose lots of weight. In the last 3 weeks I have lost 9 pounds and from tommorow plan to do Zumba everyday. I will not be attending classes as I work full time and do not get home until 6.30pm, going onto a class would be hard for Imane, so I purchased the Zumba DVD kit and will be Zumbering away in my Majlis lol.

Thats all my news for now, hope you all have a great week.

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Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom
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