Monday, June 20, 2011

I get mail: Yes, you can be safe here

Hello, Ms. McQueen, my daughter just accepted a job offer to teach English in Abu Dhabi.  She's a single woman with 2 young children,3 & 8.  I live in US.  I'm her mother. I'm really concerned that she move to the middleeast country that's so foreign to us.  Are there a lot of danger living there as a single woman?  What about the safety for foreigners live there?  Can you shed some lights as what should she be watching out?  Thanks in advance.


My response:

I get these kinds of letters all the time and no wonder, I sent some myself in 2008 when I was considering the move. Moving so far away is a big deal. While this is truely "another world" I told Elaine what I tell everyone who writes this kind of letter: I feel safer here in Abu Dhabi than I ever did back in Canada. Weather permitting, I walk everywhere, even late at night. Punishments for criminal activity are extremely harsh and usually mean the end of residency (read: deportation), and I think that also serves to reduce petty crime.

If you are not xenophobic – although I assure you, without an introduction elsewhere the assortment of nationalities can be overwhelming at first for those arriving from Western countries – it will be fine. No matter what you've heard about them, Arab men, Muslim men, and Arab-Muslim men are not waiting to subjugate or enslave you. (However men of all nationalities do tend to stare. I just remind myself those days will soon be over; sometimes I pretend I'm famous) My friend who was just visiting, having been warned about "bad men" in these parts by her mother, instead found some of the most chivalrous treatment she had ever received.

Bad things happen here every day, yes, that's true. And one drawback is that I am sure we hear much less about them than people in other countries. But there is really nothing at all to worry about in terms of general safety. The biggest danger, I'd wager, is general craziness on the roads. So while I wouldn't exactly recommend accepting a posting in Syria or Yemen right about now, things are a-okay in the UAE.

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