A few weeks ago, standing on the sidelines at soccer practice, I was doing the mom-chat thing with a woman I’d only just met. She said she’d lived in Abu Dhabi for about seven years, but was thinking of moving back to the UK before her older daughter started high school.
“I know it’s too early to think about it,” the mother said, laughing, “but things happen, and I wouldn’t want her to end up marrying an Arab, after all.”
Our kids were playing indoors to beat the heat, and scattered along the sidelines with us were a smattering of dads in dishdashas and moms in abayas, and some other Western parents. No one heard this woman’s comment and she seemed unconcerned about what she’d just said. I looked at her, trying to figure out if she were joking (she wasn’t). (more…)
This is a gold ATM machine: you can purchase gold in any amount. The machine is in the mall, near a Starbucks.
That’s been a question I’m asked a lot lately. It’s a question I was almost never asked when we lived in Manhattan, even though it’s home to god knows how many hedge-fund gazillionaires.
When we moved to Abu Dhabi in August, I prepared myself for all kinds of changes–food, customs, weather, schools, jobs–all the big stuff. But it never occurred to me that, of course, here in the land of Gulf petrodollars and expat tax-free paychecks, my kids would be exposed to the trappings of wealth in a way they’d never seen before.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they were walking barefoot in the snow to some rat-infested public school in outer Bushwick where there weren’t enough math books to go around. Both boys went to public elementary schools, true, but one was in a lovely little neighborhood in Gramercy Park (a very affluent ‘hood) and the other went to a gifted-and-talented school that wasn’t very fancy on the outside but was delivering a kick-ass education inside (albeit in over-crowded classrooms with underpaid teachers).
We have friends with weekend houses and beach houses; friends who take great vacations and explore the world, but my kids don’t really see those things as signs of money—in part, I guess, because they’re still young and don’t quite understand what it takes to support two households, or truck a family of six to Egypt for the winter holidays.
I wasn’t prepared, myself, for the way that wealth is on display here: that the Porsche Cayenne is basically the Chrysler mini-van of the Gulf; (more…)