A hole in my tyre and in my wallet

I have a slow puncher on my car. Apparently it doesn’t mean that I have a professional boxer slightly on the lazy side hidden in my trunk. I wish. It would have been more fun than changing a leaking tyre.

For you who have been to Dubai or heard about the place, you will know that cars are a big business here. Expensive cars. Fast cars. Super cars. My car is none of that. I have a soccer mum car which is wrong in so many ways. Not the car. But soccer. Everyone knows it’s called football.

Anyway it’s necessary with this kind of information that you see below. Just so you as a parent know that when you get your child it’s first Lamborghini or Rolls Royce, don’t go all crazy (again) and change stuff that makes it go even faster or lower or jumping higher or whatever is cool.

This town is full of super cars which are entertaining to look at. When I see cars with doors that open upwards all I think about is how you would get out if the car flips upside down. Is that a mummy thing? Or am I just always thinking worse case scenario..

Doubt that will ever be a problem of mine. My son would be lucky if he ends up with an upgrade of a Superman floor mat… To his room.

Pour some sugar upon me

I have never wanted to eat my own feet as much as I wanted today. Actually. I don’t really like feet that much but anything can get yummy with a little bit of sugar on it.

So I went for a pedicure and to my surprise there was a Feet Menu. Of course there’s a Feet Menu! Why didn’t I ever think of that. I was trying to choose between Monster or Snowman pedicure but I ended up with a Candyman pedicure because I was hungry.

I don’t know if this is Dubai thing or if anyone else had the experience of turning your feet in to candy and ice cream? I was scared to go home afterwards thinking my dog might eat me. I was seriously delicious.

The Camel of the day

I was asked the other week if I ride on a camel when I go to work (thanks for the interesting question John – who is a fellow Swede that has a cool photo blog).

The answer is Yes.

No, it’s not. I’m not a Bedouin! Wake up!

But I do occasionally drive passed them and when I lived in Doha, Qatar, it happened more often. The national guard used to exercise their camels around 730 in the morning along the road I took to work.

Driving in Doha was a totally different dimension compared to driving in Dubai. Every roundabout felt like a life or death challenge. When you tried to enter, the cars in the roundabout speeded up to ensure you would feel the threat. Because everyone thought they owned the road. It’s MY roundabout, NO it’s MINE. The best advice I got during the road safety training my company provided, to ensure the expats would live longer than two weeks after entering the country, I got the best advice that I still live by: assume everyone is an idiot.

Funnily enough that’s how my dad raised me when I hesitated if I could do something in school or in my career. “If that idiot can do it, so can you”.

Thanks dad. Always so humble.

During the day the traffic could also suddenly come to a halt. Not because of road work or accidents but because the camels needed to use the street. You don’t mess with camels. They are worth thousands. If you hit a camel with your car, you are in deep s#it. Penalties are not low.

I don’t usually don’t do a duck face in pictures but when I do, I do it with a camel. Really, it should be called camel face. Ducks ain’t got nuffin on the camels.

When visiting any of the Middle Eastern countries, don’t forget to go to a camel race. Very different and entertaining.

Living in the desert is greener than you think

When I mention that I live in the Middle East people tend to think that I live in a sandpit, in a desert. Which is not wrong. We are surrounded by sand and we get reminded if we just drive a few minutes out of the main cities. Once outside of Dubai the sand dunes starts growing and we can definitely see that we are in fact in the desert. We also get our fair share of sandstorms that makes us chew sand for days.

But there is another side to the Middle East that a lot of people haven’t discovered yet and it’s the amazing cities like Abu Dhabi, Dubai in United Arab Emirates, Doha in Qatar, Muscat in Oman and Manama in Bahrain. Yes, a LOT of effort and water have to be managed in order to keep these cities green. Sustainable (and unsustainable) options are being looked in to to ensure they stay this way as well.

Below my dog is having a morning zen moment, enjoying the view and the quietness. Well, until another dog came that she tried to kill in order to protect her family.

She also has a love for jumping in to hedges and stay there.

Our area is surrounded by several man made lakes and greenery to make sure that we think we don’t live in the desert. It works pretty well up until this time of year when the heat are coming and it’s getting tough to be outside. Mornings and evenings are still nice. 7 am is about 26 degrees (80 Fahrenheit). Deodorant is turning in to an item that goes with you and on you everywhere. We sweat more than sauna lovers. At least that’s something that makes me feel right at home, as a Scandinavian.

Welcome to the party

My colleagues sister is expecting her first child in the end of June and the other day she told me that her sister is currently looking for a diaper bag, stroller and a good caterer to bring food to the hospital.Wait.. what? I was sure I heard wrong.

She said, no, you heard right. Here in the United Arab Emirates, we order food to the hospital as part of our birth plan. Holy f***! I told her, in Sweden you are not even allowed to enter the ward as we protect our little babies against any kind of infections and here you guys throw a party?

She explained that before the child arrives they choose the hospital to give birth at and make sure that they upgrade to the biggest room (I know… upgrade! Its Dubai folks! Of course its possible!) to ensure as many people as possible can fit. After all you want everyone to visit you at the hospital and that way you know you don’t have to entertain them when you get home.

After choosing a good hospital, room and which kind of food they want people to nibble on while you lay there with a sore everything and wish they would go away, you have to choose decoration – balloons, flowers and give aways. Obviously people don’t want to leave without a goody bag right?

After all you don’t want there to be too much space to hang out. This way you can make sure that people wont stay long as there is not much room.

A little bit of mooning

There are several interesting challenges with living in the ME. Some stuff are really interesting and some thing I would describe with a whole other set of adjectives. It all comes with the expat package. Getting used to sand everywhere is one thing and learning how to be extremely spontaneous is another one. When I tell people that we plan our vacations depending on the moon they usually don’t believe me but this is actually the reality.

After several years in the Middle East region I have learnt that the moon is my friend and that I have to patiently wait for him to show his face in a way that remind me of the beginning of a date night with my husband. Will he be ready to come out today? Or will it be tomorrow? Will he be full or half? Thankfully my husband always shows up in full.

Most planning looks like above. Doesn’t matter if it’s corporate or a school, you won’t know your holidays until a few days before. And you thought it was difficult to plan vacation every year? Try booking a trip over the Eid celebration (holidays after Ramadan) which is usually three days, when you don’t know when they will fall exactly. You might be lucky and you have booked your flight perfectly on the day you are off (the moon is on your side) but if you are not, you better hope you have vacation days left and that your boss will approve them.

The holidays are announced publicly online a day or two before they are suppose to start depending on the lunar sighting.

Just a Thursday

Today we went for a school trip, as I like to call it. At work they call it “building a professional business case by shadowing a well known and complex operation”… but who can say that anyway. Therefore school trip it is.

I sat next to one of our awesome ladies from the Philippines who told me that hours after she was born, a gecko fell down from the roof and landed on her forehead. Her mum that’s was holding her in her arms was petrified and just starred at it for about a minute before it decided to move. My colleague explained to me that she was convinced this meant good luck and that she is the lucky charm in the family due to this. I explained that if it happened in Sweden the hospital would be in lock down.

On a totally different note… This is a picture of a mince pie. Well half of it as the other part is in my belly. It was a rather interesting discovery today to notice that mince pie is not with meat but dried fruit. I wish someone would have warned me. My mouth wasn’t ready for that kind of shock.

Sleeping beauty

People in the Middle East seem to be fond of sleeping a little bit everywhere. And don’t give me wrong, I’m all pro napping. If I could take a power nap daily I would. Just go and hide somewhere and snooze. When I was pregnant I had some days during work that was tough. I couldn’t keep my eyes open so during lunch hour I took my four wheel drive, drove out to the desert (my work was not far from it) and had a 15 minutes sleep in my car. Afterwards I came back with a nice red mark on my face from the seat belt and drewl on my blouse. I’m a sexy sleeper.

The difference between me and the random sleepers that I bump in to every now and then is that they don’t hide. They just suddenly decided to sleep. So they just lay down. Like this guy, that I almost ran over. He woke up when I started taking stuff out of the trunk of my car. I was trying to be quiet but he was kind of…right in the way. I apologized for waking him from his beauty sleep and he said “No worries, mam” and fell back asleep. How nice is that? Even polite when he sleeps. If my husband wakes me by accident I swear loudly, throw pillows and plan to slash his tires once I’m up. But that’s just me being slightly emotional waking up.

Happy Birthday UAE!

Isn’t it awesome when you arrive at work and the first thing that you meet is a horse. I wish that happened every day. I would love to have a little pony next to my desk and just have a conversation with him now and then. Give him a carrot or just braid his tail.

Today was UAE National day celebration. Well it’s actually tomorrow officially but that’s a day off. We all dressed up in National outfits and did everything except for working. Best day ever!

I had a hard time navigating myself with my abaya. I got stuck in doors, stepped on in, rolled my chair over it and couldn’t stand up, discovered why women take them off before going to the toilet. Learnt a lot today.. Tomorrow this young nation turns 46 years old. The stuff this country has gone through in just such a short time is unbelievable. Twenty years ago this was pretty much just sand. And today… it’s just wow! If you haven’t been to Dubai, come and visit. I promise to meet you with a horse. Or camel.