Es gibt die Goldmarie und die Pechmarie. Zumindest in Grimms Märchen.
Und dann gibt es noch die SandMarie. Die sitzt manchmal auf einer emiratischen Düne und lässt den Sand durch ihre Finger rinnen. So wie die Sandkörner herab, fließen dann gelegentlich Buchstaben durch ihren Sinn, welche sich zu Worten und Sätzen fügen: Über das Leben allgemein, das Leben als Expat in den Emiraten, über Menschen, Bücher (z.B. mein eigenes, s.o.), Erlebnisse....

POSTS IN ENGLISH

Students life at German International schools - talking about Abu Dhabi

Children attend a school. Of course. Also our kids: of course.
Since this fact regularly leads to bewilderment in Germany obviously, here I want to talk a bit about the daily school life of expat-children abroad.

One of favourite anecdotes is this one: A couple in Germany comes to know one day via friends, that we are going to move to Libya. The serious question towards me during an encounter short time after: "Oh, will your children attend any school there, too?"

Funny. For sure our daughters would have been delighted completely "without" for a while. :- )  Unfortunately they have parents who a) have got a very different opinion about this topic and b) the first and most important thing for them (the parents: my hubby and me) is... to figure out about the school situation at any possible working place abroad FIRST. Just in order to check wether it is worth a consideration at all - because of the kids and their school!

Therefore I constantly answer the usually arising question: "And - what school will your kids attend there?" with: "The German one." Often completed by the detail: "With Thuringian curriculum", what puzzles the counterpart most. Most of the German International schools in the Middle East region teach since years already on base of the Thuringian syllabus!

The Deutsche Schule Abu Dhabi  gives their pupils the opportunity to receive the 'Deutschen Internationalen Abitur' (DIAP.) Since starting with grade 9 several subjects are taught in English or bilingual (geography and biology, later also chemistry; also arts and Arabic which is compulsory for all expat students), this graduation give the chance to study after at universities all around the world. Who doesn't want to study up to grade 12, can leave the school after the 10th grade final exams.

In Germany there are disputs since years (or decades...) already about the never really established school reform and the way which might be the best to achieve a generally workable new order. It's advised to have a look at German International schools! All classes include all three German school types in itselves. That means, all students of the same age sit together in once class - these of the higher school level learn together with students of the middle and lower school type! The requirements of the exams and for the marks will be adapted accordingly. I can assure you, that all students cope very well with each other - regardless of the school type they would attend in Germany.

Also in those yellow school buses who transport them in the mornings and afternoons to and from German school, there are 3 years old kindergarten kids sitting next to 18 years old colledge graduates, peaceful united. Even friendships among children of different age groups start from here.

Of course there are also other opportunities for German expat kids - they can attend any of the many other International schools: the British, American, French,..... For our family, who actually never planned to live long term or even permanently abroad (also we had regular "stop overs" for a few month or years in Germany in between "our" countries we lived in since) it didn't make sense to leave the German educational system (switching is difficult).
However, I know here quite a couple of German children who attend other than the German school and who receive a second language that way. A big advantage for kids without a natural bilingual background at home!


Our daughters don't feel bewildered when the parents of their class mates often talk in foreign languages to them. More likely our kids are a bit sad because they don't grow up bilingual at home! Sorry, girls - this didn't work, right from the beginning.... :-)

Of course they meet them at school among their friends every day: Children whose parent(s) do not speak German by birth. Or kids, who originate from Egypt or Syria or... but they live here in UAE since a long time already; often there are also relateds somehow to Germany. Also, there are Emirati students whose parents wish to give them a German school education!

A little bit it seems funny to me, when kids at primary school talk in their science lesson about grass species or herbs growing in middle European meadows - while some of them haven't ever seen them yet in real life! However, theses are trivial matters; we shouldn't give them more weight compared with the broadening of childrens horizons by all the daily influences who shape their international way of growing up.


Kids sing Christmas carols in front of German Interantional School Abu Dhabi
 
When it rings for lunch break, kids of various skin colours, mother tongues and religions run out of their class rooms - aloud and happy like at any other school, too. Such "details" aren't of any interest anyway for them usually.... scuffles, which happen at every school every day, usually have no reason linked to race or religion, but very trivial reasons ("This boy jostled; she took my football,...!)

Great examples for dealing in an everydays' attitude with tolerance, an easy living-together, are the school events. On occasion of the Emirati National Day there are Arabian songs and dances; also German breed children and teens are dressed with white-red-green-black shirts, hats, buttons, even wigs. Absolutely voluntary - just to show their liking and support!


Every year at 11th of November for Saint-Martin-celebration I really love the way it is done here at German school: Before the theater performance around the wide-hearted Saint  Martin starts, there is a brief explanation about the content and meaning of this play in Arabic and English as well.
Later, parents from Bavaria, Lower Saxony or Brandenburg walk next to black veiled mothers from the Emirates, Egyptian mothers with colourful head scarfs or local fathers in long white Thobes, who hurry to get a "Bethmännchen" (traditional buns in the shape of  a man) for their kids. Or who help to carry the self-crafted and painted "Martins' lantern", while the little ones sing along the well known song about Saint Martin, the helpful and kind-hearted Roman soldier (and later bishop of Tours) of the 4th century....
Because...... A kind heart and helpfulness are completely "international" in the end !

Emirati fathers at Saint Martins Day: German International School Abu Dhabi

(unfortunatle the lantern isn't visible in this photo....)



LEADING EMIRATI LADIES


Usually, in daily life Emirati women are traditionally clad all in black, from tip to toe - with head scarf and abahya, many of them additionally with the face veil. Gradually they become a bit "invisible" to society. But how is their status among this society. Don't they play any role at all?

To answer this question I did some more intensified research. Starting from a few examples I knew about already I was searching for Emirati women who play an important role in economy, arts or other fields and who are honored for their achievements.

The first Emirati movie director in history is Nayla Al Khaja.
http://www.naylaalkhaja.com/category/about/
Nayla Al Khaja is so far one of only a handful of women within the quite young film business. Besides her directing works she founded her own TV- and movie production company. (to her Homepage)

On the photo below you see the Crown prince of Dubai and chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, a government body in order to implement and achieve of strategical city development plans for Dubai: During talks with local ladies in leading positions in a project around the topic "Brand Dubai". This is an initiative to promote huge public Dubai projects - like pedestrian and bike-lanes, public beaches or places. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum ("Fazza" is his poetical 'alter ego') met with the lady who is the general director of Dubais' Media offcies, Mona Ghanim Al Marri and with the director for communication and innovation, Noora Al Abbar.
Foto: http://www.emirates247.com/news/government/implement-brand-dubai-hamdan-2014-10-14-1.566270

Why do Emirati ladies work in various jobs, what is their aim? In an article of GulfNews I found this:

There are different factors that motivate women to work or start their own businesses. Women work, whether for their own businesses or in the public or private sectors, for two main reasons: They either have to work, or they want to work.
The study shows that the desire for higher income is not a key motivating factor for female Emiratis aspiring to become entrepreneurs. The standard of living in the UAE significantly reduces the economic reasons for women to seek employment, leaving one main reason for them to go to work: because they want to.
“In the UAE, most women do not go to work out of economic necessity. They do so because they have a need for self-accomplishment or to help others, and want to contribute to the success and reputation of their country,” says Dr Jabeen.
Women-owned enterprises represent one of the fastest-growing segments of new business worldwide. In the US, women entrepreneurs own about 10 per cent of new businesses, while in Thailand, that number rockets to about 45 per cent.
“13,000 women own about 20,000 companies,” Fatima Al Jaber, chairperson of the board of directors of Emirates Businesswomen Council, recently told a forum on the private sector’s contributions in development. The forum was organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in UAE.
The main sector in which Emirati women operate their businesses are the retail (43 per cent) and service sectors (56 per cent). Women Emirati entrepreneurs invest in fields such as trade, industry finance, real estate, tourism, fairs and exhibitions, construction and services. (....)
This stands UAE women in good stead, as statistics reveal that 77 per cent of UAE females continue on to higher education, which is actually 24 per cent more than the proportion of UAE national men enrolled in higher education institutions.


“My father was a businessman; he gave me a great push to succeed. He believed in my abilities, and encouraged me to open my own business, which I did. Later on, my husband too was very supportive,” says Amani Al Omran. “I now have two successful businesses: a store for branded scarves and a training management consultancy firm. I wouldn’t have made it without my father’s support,” she adds.Aisha Yousef too, says she was supported by her family to launch “Photographya Studio”.
“My family was always supportive and trusted my knowledge and capabilities to launch a successful business, especially my mother, brother and sisters. They were regularly following up on my projects, development and ideas,” says Aisha. Azza Al Qubaisi, the renowned jewellery designer also credits her family for her success.
“They trusted me enough to give me the time to establish my business without being demanding, and released me from some family restrictions,” she says.
Starting a new business calls for demands a large amount of time and attention. As women have maintained the traditional role of caring for their own children, the support of family members (sisters, mother, etc.) remains an essential support element for an entrepreneur to meet the demands of both job and children.
“After marriage, my husband shared the home responsibilities with me, especially during my pregnancy. Otherwise, it would have been difficult to keep the business successful,” says Azza.

Another interesting aspect about sharing work responsibilities is mentioned in this (article):

Another speaker, Shaikha Hend Faisal Al Qasimi, CEO of Al Qassemi Al Thani Holdings in Qatar, also discussed the rise of women in business. “The nation and GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries in general have always been supporting women. In the older days, men used to be out at sea for months, and women used to run their business. Then with the age of oil, women didn’t need to work and their productivity decreased. “This has changed now, and the idea of entrepreneurship is like a fever that everyone is catching,” she said.
But not only in the fields of economy there are more and more Emirati women who take a leading role. At a completely different subject there is a lady who made herself a big name within the region: Khulood Atiq. She is the first famous chef de cuisine in the Emirates! (See an article about her here: The National)

'Chef Khulood - well known under this title - started in 2008 with her first professional job in a kitchen, when she became a kitchen assistant in a TV show. Only short after she was specialty Chef in famous Mina A'Salam-Hotel in Dubai. There she created menus revolving around traditional Emirati dishes - and started to teach other Chefs about local cuisine.
At the moment she is specialized in Arabian and Emirati cuisine for the Abu Dhabi Tourism Development and Investment Company, where she helps to conserve and develop the regional culture by establishing more typical dishes from UAE within the restaurant scenery here.

http://mariamali90.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/khulood-atiq-the-first-female-emirati-master-chef-2-2/
The next step in her career was to publish her first cooking book in 2012: "Sarareed". This was part of the "Gourmet Abu Dhabi" festival. Within this frame she also was awarded with the appreciated "Abu Dhabi Gourmet"-prize. Her Facebook page informs about her plans and activities: Khulood Atiq 


Among friends of modern art, photography and art installations she is no longer a secret hint:  Karima Al Shomely. Originating from the Emirat of Sharjah she exhibits now in international galleries in France, Germany, Iran or Spain. Two years ago, during her visit in Düsseldorf (Germany) this picture of her was taken: 
http://www.rheinische-art.de/cms/topics/interkultureller-dialog.-die-lepsien-art-foundation-bringt-kuenstler-aus-europa-und-dem-mittleren-osten-zusammen.php - On the picture: Karima Al Shomely
Last but not least - what would our world be without female doctors?
Dr. Maryam Matar is a highly praised Emirati physician. The 36-year- old says, within one single week sometimes she wears up to eleven different "hats": F.e. as the chairwoman (who also founded this organisation) of the "UAE Genetic Diseases Association" (Bekämpfung von Erbkrankheiten). At the moment she divides her time between Dubai and Japan. Always six weeks in one go she stays in one place, because she just finishes her works for her professorship about blood diseases in the Emirates at Yamaguchi University.

http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/the-life/day-in-the-life-emirati-doctor-maryam-matar
This highly decorated physician has worked in several positions within the UAE health care system already and started numerous initiatives, like the one to eradicate sickle cell anemia. She founded in 2005 a unification to work for humans with Down syndrome, and she was the first Emirati woman, too, who was raised into the position of a general director in Dubai government.

* * *

So. Here we had opportunity to browse through a few remarkable careers from which I chose just a few. Whoever might think now: Well, there are a handful of Emirati "show" woman who do an outstanding job, but..... there are not so many?

I give the question back: How many German ladies do you know, who sit in companies chair posititions, who lead enterprises, have positions at the government? In the end: So many there are not also in Germany.
Of course we can presume that because of the historical development in Europe it is the vast majority of woman, who works in a job outside home since decades already - because they have to or because the want to!


The "Light miracle" of Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi


I confess: When I saw the "Sheikh Zayed Mosque" Abu Dhabi for the first time , the one morning, after an exhausting night flight, I wasn't really impressed. Of course - a fine ensemble, sure - huge and all in white. But I had seen plenty of other mosques of the Islamic world before; often very colorful mosques with wonderful inlays on top of their domes.

http://oman-reise.11-300mm.de/img/o1/5594_m.jpg
http://oman-reise.11-300mm.de/img/o1/5594_m.jpg
The beauty of this spacious complex perhaps doesn't open up to one on the first glimpse. Meanwhile there is no time I pass this building I do have a long look at it (this is almost every day, since this mosque is on the way between our house and the city center).

Bild
http://oman-reise.11-300mm.de/img/o1/5599_m.jpg
Fascinating: In the center there is the dome, rising 75 m (highest central dome of any mosque world wide) and with a diameter of 32,2 m, surrounded by four minarets. Because its genius arrangement of the other 40 smaller domes around, the entire building always appears to look a bit different - depending on sun and clouds. Always there are somehow like "new" perspectives, other places for light and shadow, new lines of sight! To me, it seems like a "landscape", like bright sand dunes in the wind... Often I get the impression that each time I pass - I see a different mosque! Really architecture at its best.

The building is situated on a 56 ha wide place of the central island of Abu Dhabi. It was planned by the first president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The first official inauguration took place in October 2007; the founder couldn't experience it anymore since he died in 2004. His grave is at this site.

Of course the Big mosque of Abu Dhabi is full of records! There isn't only the widest dome, but also the worlds biggest hand-woven carpet in one piece (5627 m²), originating from Iran. But also the hugest chandelier in the world: Its diameter is 10 m and it is 15 m high; produced by 'Faustig'-company Munich (Germany).

http://www.abu-dhabi.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Sheikh-Zayed-Moschee.jpg
http://www.abu-dhabi.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Sheikh-Zayed-Moschee.jpg

What looks really a bit fairy tale-like to me, happens always only after sunset! Usually, in the Arab world minarets have a green lightning (the color of prophet Mohammed and generally of Islam). But also in this regard, this mosque is different. An unique light system - created only for this place - reflects the phases of the moon!

Soft-flowing clouds in light-bluish Grey are projected at night on the whole white marble facades. Every day it looks a bit different: During the days after the new moon this lights are darker and contain more blue. While the moon is growing each day, also the color becomes bright and brighter; at the full moon the facades shine in brilliant white! Also, the lights within the minarets and around the domes are in deep blue which alters gradually. Like in a fairy tale of "Thousand-and-one-night".....
In order to project according the moon phases, around the building there were 22 light towers erected. This tailor made lightning was designed by the British office Speirs and Major Associates.

Who of you now would like to have a nice little "walk" through this mosques: Here is the link to an informative but really worth to see clip, produced by GulfNews TV about Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

http://youtu.be/WToTxs9zU8A

And... who is still not impressed yet: Watch the Light Installations, which were created on occasion of the 40-years-celebrations of the UAE. They were projected for the public on the surface of this building. Here is the video clip:

http://youtu.be/5UZ7W4iwX48






"Oktoberfest" - about being German abroad

Well. Home in Germany I never-ever would get the idea to visit any Oktoberfest full of "Schlager"-Music-sound, beer, "Haxn" (huge roasted pork legs) and loud singing in big groups. Finally I am not a Bavarian! Even to its birthplace, Munich, I am not really inclined to travel anymore.
These things pushed me to ask: How "German" is, remains - or becomes? - a German expat, time after time?  

Plenty of Bavarian "Dirndl" dresses at Oktoberfest-parties in UAE! Even non-Babarians or even Non-Germans love to wear them.... 


Shift

  

Almost since 15 years now I live abroad (with a few brief stops in Germany in-between). Of course humans alter during such a long time. With changing environment perhaps even a bit more than usually.

To be "German" used to be of little importance to me, when I was young. Only when I started to live abroad, these things altered. I am not really "proud" on my origin; however there is absolutely no reason to feel ashamed as well, particularly since nowadays everywhere one gets a friendly welcome stating that one comes form Germany.
Such moments remind me of the fact that probably the person in front of me might not know many Germans yet - therefore it  seems that I am in the shoes of some kind of "cultural Ambassador" for my home country: Depending on how their impression of me might be, this "picture" will model their general idea about "the Germans" (even when it is nonsense of course, to judge an entire nation after just one exemplar of it!) Therefore I try hard to be a good Ambassador or my country (what means usually nothing else but just being polite and friendly.)

I am "More German than the Germans themselves", when I suddenly have fun at the above mentioned Oktoberfest. But I really wonder which kind of "picture" the world gets about Germany in constricting an entire culture within this limited boundaries of these parties?!

Particularly "German" I am for sure while baking "Dresdner Christstollen" (a traditional Christmas cake from Saxony). In Germany I just would buy it... Super German I have been for years, making Quark and Schwarzbrot on my own. Easter eggs we hid in each country for our kids; with look on the climate zone were were just in, preferably NOT the ones made from chocolate!
German I have remained concerning punctuality: No matter how presumably late my counterpart will arrive probably, no matter how delayed any event will start....not to be around very "prompt" gives me a bad feeling.

On the other hand I also have adapted by time; extremely "German" edges had been smoothed. To wait for anything (other people, at the cash counter, for handy men,....) I am able to bear now - after long years "training" - with literally oriental relaxation. If not, I probably would rash from one heart attack to another...


Also, I try to show usually a friendly expression on my face and to smile more often towards people - simply because outside Germany one is greeted much friendlier!
Even my German language might have altered a bit; very often it will be some kind of "Denglish" (mix Deutsch-English), dotted with some local idiomatically terms of the surrounding. This has nothing to do with 'flaunting my arrogance' in showing off my multilingualism. You will usually always use the term (also language) you have first learnt for it!

Many daily "scandals" which are on page 1 of German newspapers (pesticides in foods, softener in... whatever, strikes within a neighborhood,...) and generally speaking when it comes to plenty of regulations for all kinds of spheres... meanwhile I just shrug my shoulders. Too often I have seen, that in other parts of the world exactly the same problems were mastered the other way around.

Comparing


Living abroad it will occur, that permanently you start to compare the conditions of various countries or cultures: In one place everything seems chaotically, in another people are particularly helpful; again somewhere else kids never have to pay any entry fee. They are extremely spoilt or in the contrary better shouldn't be seen or heard at all. In one place, education is highly regarded, in another it seems that materialism is more important to the inhabitants. 
In some parts of the world, soccer is the "center" of many people's interests. In others, no-one cares for soccer, but they are all crazy for Cricket or Baseball!
While in some regions everything revolves around job and work life, in others, family life is the absolute pole of everything. In some countries it is regarded as shameless to show a little skin around the waist. In other countries this is not a problem at all.... but instead of this a bare shoulder! - to be continued.... -
This constant comparing is perhaps a reason for me looking relatively 'case-hardened' for my old friends in Germany. It happened, since I realized: Many things can be done in various ways; not necessarily one way better than the other in die end. Maybe this is what is called tolerance.

But fore sure "Un-German" is the fact, that I and our children, too, crave for rain sometimes. They prefer "cloudy" definitely to "bright sun"!


Huge tent with beer-tables - but this isn't Munich, but Abu Dhabi! 




Recently a couple of OKTOBERFEST-feasts took place here. Like all around the globe - obviously it goes viral! Oktoberfest in Hongkong, Mexico-City or Abu Dhabi. Sounds a bit strange, doesn't it?

However - here in this desert land - every autum I take my "Dirndl" (Bavarian ladies dress) out of the wardrobe, raise my beer glass, dance on top of the long table and sing along with 1500 other people something like "In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus" and other typical popular Oktoberfest-songs. I usually wonder where I know all theses lyrics from?!






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