Now that I’m moving on to Bahrain, I’d like to look back at some of my experiences in the last 4 years living as a Pakistani expat in Dubai.

For many people, meeting a Pakistani woman is a new experience too and I often get asked some awkward questions.

“Are you Indian?” Yes, well all white folk look the same to me too. But you do know that Pakistan is another country, right?

For casual wear, I often team up a long top with trousers. “Is that a traditional dress from your country?” No, I bought it from Debenhams.

“Are you originally from Pakistan? How come your English is so good?” Well for me, English is my first language and yes I was educated in Pakistan. I am originally from Pakistan, I didn’t make that up, nobody would.

“You had an arranged marriage? How strange!” It’s not at all strange. Most of the marriages that take place in Pakistan are arranged. They work. Mine does too.

There are a lot of Pakistani restaurants here. But when we eat from some other restaurant which is very often, it’s funny that they mark spicy on the menus because the spiciest food is just normal for us. I have green chillies in my fridge at all times because they’re used in all our food.

In the 3 years that I was driving (it took me a year to finally get round to getting my license) I had one minor accident in which a car hit me from the back and put a scratch on the side of the car. The efficiency of the police in handling the matter was impressive especially as it’s not something I see back home. Also in this entire time I have never felt unsafe even when I was living alone for 2 years and my husband was commuting on the weekend. This is something I cherish as I have experienced lack of it too.

What is strange is that in this entire time I have only met with other expats and have never met a local Arab family. When I arrived here and found that an Indian family lived in front of us, an American family to the left and Jordanians to the right I was thrilled at the prospect of new friendship and cross cultural learning. However it is really the Pakistani families living in the area that I ended up bonding with. I guess birds of a feather really do flock together.

And with my move just around the corner I will have another opportunity at making new friends and learning about people. I can take inspiration from the questions asked in the song “Mitwa” I heard once again today by one of our famous singers Shafqat Amanat Ali.

Which direction are you going?
What haven’t you got?
What are you searching for?


Me at Palm Jumeirah, Dubai


13 thoughts on “Perspectives

  1. wow – best wishes on your move – and I enjoyed your post – we love green chilies too – and cool photo – that water is so beautiful. safe travels to you and the fam

  2. The students I’ve taught from Dubai were among the most wonderful people ever to be in my classroom. If they are an indication of what you will find there, I think you will be very happy! Good luck!

    • Hi Martha, I’ve enjoyed my stay of 4 years in Dubai very much but now it’s time to move on to Bahrain. I hope to make new friends there as well.

      • Yikes! I meant Bahrain! I had a student who was the Minister of Agriculture for Bahrain (a LONG time ago like when you were born or before) and his whole family was just wonderful.

      • Ah yes, I’ve heard that the Bahraini people are very friendly and welcoming. It’s different in UAE because you hardly interact with the small local population.

  3. Wish you all the best with your move!
    I know the “Are you Indian”? question too well, but I work in a place where the majority of people that I come across are local. They always start talking to me in Arabic and when I tell them I don’t speak Arabic, they are rather surprised. For some reason, I look either Arab or Indian… never Pakistani!

    • I get the same, I’ve visited Egypt a few times and they used to tell me I have an Arab face, then I’ve also had quite a few people telling me I look Chinese!
      Thank you so much for visiting and following my blog. 🙂 Best wishes, Zainab

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