Mini-stalked, twice in 12 hours

It occurred to me this morning that men in Ottawa and Abu Dhabi might greatly improve their chances of hooking up with women if they sorted their tactics and met somewhere in the middle. Canada's capital is a lovely but staid government town, and its single women are prone to lamenting a lack of forwardness from the male half. I can vouch for this; it always shocked me a bit whenever I left, even for Toronto or my hometown of London, where men are not afraid to look a woman in the eye and smile. You know, because it doesn't mean anything.

Then again, a boyfriend of mine, while we were still together and I could be sure he was not referring to me, liked to lament Ottawa had offered him "a lot of low fruit". Who is to say, right?

Men in Abu Dhabi (and I am talking about men from the region here) think nothing of stopping to talk to a woman they like. If that doesn't work, they'll follow her. I've been boxed in with a shopping cart at the fruit counter, tailed at Abu Dhabi Mall and shadowed home from a store near my hotel, until I yelled "GO AWAY". Even then the guy didn't look convinced I wasn't interested. Last fall, a friend of mine made the ill-advised move of giving her phone number to a normal-seeming, fun man from Oman a group of us met in a bar. (He also met her boyfriend, and knew it was her boyfriend). He bombarded her with calls and texts the next day. He has only just stopped. Another friend was looking through a rack in Mango when she felt she was being watched; she peered through the clothes to find a man staring at her from the other side. He asked her to go for a coffee.

Working late the other night, I went out to hail a cab. I heard a car pull in behind me – just a couple of metres away – and I turned to look. There was a man, his tinted windows rolled down, staring at me. "Hello" he said. "Do you speak Arabic?"

I ignored him, and turned back to get the cab. Hoping really hard one would come. "No cabs," he said. "Big problem."
He wanted to give me a ride, asking over and over. I said "no thank you", several times. A few minutes passed, him imploring, me ignoring, and finally a cab stopped. I was very relieved when I was inside. Five minutes later, as we waited to make a U-turn at a traffic light so I could be dropped off right in front of my hotel, I had a strange sensation. I turned to look out the window, and there he was in his car in the next lane, tinted window rolled down to expose just his eyes. Staring right at me. Eeeek! I asked the driver to step on it and we did some manouvres and managed to lose him.

The next morning, after a visit to the doctor, outside a hospital, as I again tried to hail a cab, a man in a suit in a Mercedes whistled, yelled and honked at me to get in his car. Why I felt embarrassed to be ignoring him I will never know, but I again felt extreme relief when a cab stopped and I was inside.

Every woman in this office has a similar story, I reckon. And on second thought, those shy Ottawa guys don't seem so bad after all.


Trish said…
Ann, this scares me! Nice to be admired from afar, but you are being followed. CLOSELY. I agree, they need to cool it. You need to always have a buddy when you go places at night. Or at least a text-me-when-you-get-home agreement with someone else. Be careful!
Gaia said…
shopping cart at the food counter... ditto!

also, running at the Corniche... I mean, c'mon guys :P
nzm said…
Every white woman walking alone in the UAE is deemed to be a prostitute or fair game.

I lived at the Dubai Marina and our offices were at the Internet City. I thought that it would be nice to walk between the 2 in the cooler winter months. So, one morning, off I set. On the less than 1km of road that I walked, 5 cars (all Arab men) stopped to pick me up. All other nationalities whizzed by. I didn't try walking again!

It's partly a cultural thing. Arab women seldom go out alone - they're mostly accompanied by other women or a male family escort. Therefore, male Arab (somewhat twisted) logic decrees that solo white women are on the game. Plus, it would be insulting to the woman if no one stopped and tried to pick her up! LOL!

But it pays to be very careful and remain aware of what's happening and who is around you at all times.
Jayne said…
I was followed once whilst walking through a pedestrian subway on Electra. The bloke got hold of my hand & kissed it & I though 'uh oh, what's going on here?'. I was polite, made my exit & walked into the Hamed centre......same thing, get 'that feeling' that you're being watched & bingo, the lurker was a couple of shops away, watching my every move. I managed to lose him, but was very close to yelling "fcuk off!"
JP said…
Are tazers legal in AD?
The Gray said…
true, it's freaky for all women of all nationalities to be out alone here.. but not all guys here are like that..! there is the good, the bad and the very ugly..
but i think women should do is: take the matter on your own hand, if a guy annoys you in a public place, let him get as far as he can get, smile (wickedly), let come close, and SLAP him..! and then u can call the cops.. easy.. cops take women side around here, even the guy didn't do anything..
but, then again you have to be careful from that cop, he might stalk u as well.. lol

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