Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Raping Women is Rewarded.... Only in Iraq

I was at the dentist’s when I heard the news.

- Did you know? They raped a woman and she came on Tv.
- What!!!??? Who? Another Abeer?
- This time it’s Iraqi force!
- !!!!!!!!!

My jaw was widely opened for a while even though it was not me who was sitting under my dentist’s drill, not because I think that Iraqis are so honorable and far from raping their own blood. On the contrary, Iraq is being raped every day by Iraqis before any invasion force but the shocking thing is that finally a woman , brave enough to come on tv and admit that.

As if it wasn’t enough all the destruction and dead faces and lousy check points in the name of the security plan I saw on my way to the dentist, no! There will always be new surprises.

I saw the news on Tv and beside the shock and utter disbelief and despite the controversy that this story will make and the lies that will be said to cover up what ever might expose anything about our life in Iraq under the new democracy and freedom, I have to show my full respect to this woman, Sabrine Al-Janabi, who risked her life to expose some of what is happening under the blanket.

I have so much to say but Riverbend has said all what I wanted to say by her two posts.

I honestly do not know what should I think when I see them knocking on our door to search the house. Should I worry about my savings, my jewelry ,my laptop, my mobile phone, or MYSELF.

Another shock came when I heard that Al-Maliki ordered to reward the animals who were involved.

What happened will be a great encouragement for those animals who have a license to get into our houses and have the authority to open our closets and touch our belongings. They know that not only they would get away with raping women but they would get rewarded for it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hanging the womb of Iraq

Away from Dubai, my frustration and murdered dreams, back to Iraq, where other dreams are about to be murdered savagely…..
Hanging the womb of Iraq
Stop the executions!

Wassan Talib, 31 years old, Zainab Fadhil, 25 years old, and Liqa Omar Muhammad, 26 years old, face imminent execution in Iraq, all charged with “offences against the public welfare” by a government that cannot even provide electricity but fills the streets with dead bodies. All are in Baghdad’s Al-Kadhimiya Prison. Two have small children beside them. The 1-year-old daughter of Liqa was born in prison. All women deny the charges for which they face hanging.

Paragraph 156 of the Iraqi Penal Code, under which they were judged, reads: “Any person who wilfully commits an act with intent to violate the independence of the country or its unity or the security of its territory and that act by its nature, leads to such violation is punishable by death.” Iraq’s “puppet” government charges these women with its own crimes.

None of the three women was permitted to see a lawyer. The trials to which they were subject are illegal under international law. All three are prisoners of war with protected rights under the Third Geneva Convention. Their execution would not only be illegal and summary, it would be utterly immoral. Civilization around the world reviles the death penalty while Iraq’s feudal leaders make a public spectacle of executions.
In a country where it is evident there is no state or judicial system, the occupation and its puppet government use, as all repressive regimes in history, fake tribunals to exterminate those who oppose them. No legal judgement can be issued while there isn’t the civilised conditions of due process, at least the presence and security of lawyers.
Iraqi women are testament to the life of the nation of Iraq. By contrast, the US-installed government, in its backwardness, imposes only a culture of death. Whereas Iraq was the most progressive state in the region for women’s rights, with the US invasion protective legislation was cancelled. The United States and its local conspirators, in creating hundreds of thousands of widows and reducing life in Iraq to a struggle for bare survival, have placed women in the crosshairs and now on the gallows.

Women are always the first and last victims of war. We celebrate the numberless acts of resistance of Iraqi women, whether their resilience in the face of a culture of rape, torture and murder by US and Iraqi forces, their fortitude in continuing to give life amid state-sponsored genocide, their dignity as they try to maintain a semblance of normality for their children and families, their courage in burying their husbands, sons, daughters or brothers, or in direct action against an illegal and failed military occupation.

We demand the release of Wassan, Zainab and Liqa and all political prisoners in Iraq. We call upon all persons, organisations, parliaments, workers, syndicates and states to withdraw recognition from this pro-occupation, sectarian Iraqi government. We call for immediate protest in front of every Iraqi embassy worldwide. There is no honour in murdering women. Occupation is the highest form of dictatorship. It is not these three women who should be prosecuted; it is this government and its foreign paymaster.

Hana Albayaty
Ian Douglas
Abdul Ilah Albayaty
Iman Saadoon
Dirk Adriaensens
Ayse Berktay
First endorsers:

Dr Lieven De Cauter
Dr Curtis Doebbler
Aida Seif El Dawla
Paola Manduca
Mondher Adhami
Sigyn Meder
Socorro Gomes
José Reinaldo Carvalho
Salah Omar Al Ali
Basem Khader
John Catalinotto
Sara Flounders
Hans Von Sponeck
Saadallah Fadhi
Dr Samia Mehrez
Fadhil Bedran
Paola Pisi
Nada Kassass
Ceylan Özerengin
Jan-Erik Lundström
Meissoon Azzaria
Matthias Chang
Mark Richey
Dr Suhair Abbas
Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar
Shokook MirzadegiMarie-Noëlle Lombard
Roland Lombard
Frigga Karl
Lim Ai Yim
Niloufer Bhagwat
Iraq Solidarity Association in Stockholm
Centro Brasileiro de Solidariedade aos Povos e Luta pela Paz Cebrapaz (Brazilian Center for Solidarity with the Peoples Struggle for Peace)
BRussells Tribunal Committee
International Action Center
International Movement for a Just World (JUST)
Statement by Abdul Ilah Albayaty
(11 February 2007)

Wassan Talib, 31 years old, Zainab Fadhil, 25 years old, and Liqa Omar Mohammed, 26 years old, accused of belonging to and participating in the Iraqi resistance, summarily judged in a simulacra of a trial, in the absence of lawyers, will be executed 3 March 2007 in Baghdad.

Lawyers, persuaded that your very presence is the guarantee of justice
Syndicates and workers who celebrate the international feast of 1 May in memory of the American workers judged on false accusations
Religious of all religions who carry in you the suffering of Christ, crucified after a false trial
Marxists revolted by the false trials fabricated by powers like the one of Rosa Luxembourg
Militants conscious that this could happen to you whatever is your cause
Defenders of human rights, in particular the right to fair trial
Women who give life and of whom the flesh shakes in front of the atrocity of such executions
Arabs, proud and in solidarity with the sacrifices of the Iraqi people against the barbarity of the occupation and its puppet government
Civilised beings, human beings who refuse the so-called “legal” murders perpetrated by states

ALL, let’s unite ourselves, raise our voices to scream our indignation, refuse the horrors and the regression of our civilisation, and prevent the assassinations of Wassan, Zainab and Liqa.

Abdul Ilah Albayaty

Thursday, February 08, 2007

No One Wants the Truth Anymore.......

Last month, , Gulf News, 7Days and Khaleej Times agreed on posting the same piece of news in different titles : like UAE offers hope for injured Iraqi children , Police team visits 55 Iraqi kids in the hospital . However I could not find 7 days article after I sent them an email asking them to publish the bad and good not just the good.
I would not doubt the credibility of the news, however I believe that if you want to be honest you should show both sides. I noticed that UAE media is always keen on showing the bright face of UAE while dumping all the bad things away and making sure no one knows about them unless a scandal takes place. I do not know the real reasons for that but I reckon it is all for the foreign investors and big companies to make UAE looks like the flawless country that everyone in the
world is dreaming of.
One of the articles was saying:

Major Al Kaabi said the visit was a humanitarian initiative taken by the
Abu Dhabi Police that embodied a sense of solidarity and sympathy for the injured. It also symbolised Islamic values and Muslim unity, he added.

In another you read:

"It's a humanitarian message we are sending to our brothers in Iraq;
that we feel what they are feeling and that we have been and still are with them,"

First of all, Islamic values and Muslim unity do not exist and you do not need to wait for Iraqis to get injured and handicapped until you decide to take them to UAE and show the whole world how good muslims you are helping our children. The conditions that Iraqis are living are known for the whole world and it is just a disgrace for Arabs that it is being used as publicity materials.
I wish I can thank you for taking care of our children but the words are not coming out of my mouth for I know the purpose behind such news.

Iraqis are being rejected in UAE and let me remind you that those Iraqis who are being rejected were coming to UAE for the good job opportunities that UAE provides, to work hard and to earn their living. They are going to UAE escaping from a horrible situation that no country has gone through in the whole history.

I ask you now, why you do not publish about the closed doors in Iraqi faces. You can go to the Iraqi Business Council or you can go interview the Iraqis living in UAE and see how they got there and how they are forced to live and sometimes work on a visit visa for you do not want to give Iraqis residencies, or even better idea try to pay a visit to the labor ministry and see the piles of rejected visas of Iraqis, especially Iraqi college graduates.

Iraqi women are a NO-Way thing for UAE and my story is a living proof for that along with hundreds of other Iraqi women who are not even given a visit visa. I do not think that Iraqi women are more dangerous than those women of other nationality who are allowed to enter UAE without one single problem, to work in the nightclubs or in the escorting companies all over UAE. I know there are Iraqi gipsy dancers (Kawaliya) but guess what, those are sponsored directly and face no hassle since they are one of the many flavors that the UAE society needs.
Is the above Islamic?

The snap shot was taken and the news was heard by everyone so you have had what you wanted.

I was in contact with one of the above newspaper's reporters and after exchanging 12 emails and one phone call he was still not digesting the whole matter. He refused to read my blog for some reason and after 3 minutes on the phone he ended up the phone call after insisting for days to talk to me. I am sorry I did not give you the image that you were looking for to make UAE even more beautiful. Good luck with that, I am sure you will find plenty other things to talk about.
It seems that the matter of Iraqis not being allowed in UAE in general is being covered in a very good way that no one would believe what is really happening One of the matters that cover the issue that you can find many Iraqis who live in UAE but no one question how they got there first place to know the difficulties.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My Second Try.. My Second Visa

After few months, I found out that I was still clinging to hope. I still found myself running every morning to my emails to see if there was something, someone telling me that my problem was solved. I kept on trying sending emails right and left but no use.

I wrote an email to the person who was about to be my boss and told the obvious, that I wanted to call an end and I want an official contract termination.

That email was for me more than it was for him. I wanted a closure. I was getting drained with things in Baghdad were going from bad to worse everyday.

His reply was nice but did not help:

Hi (….)

I hope you are well. Unfortunately, the other “wasta” which I tried
turned out not to be so helpful, so there isn’t anything more that I can do from
here. As far as the contract goes, it is stipulated that it is only valid once
the visa formalities are approved, no need for a letter from us. However, if you
require a letter I can furnish you with one. I will check to see if the college
certification can be returned.

Your visa rejection was through the ministry of labor security not immigration. As far as employment with (……) is concerned, we have not filled the position. I have changed the structure of the department somewhat. If you are successful in obtaining a visa clearance, then we would need approval from the management committee, but in principle, would still be interested in employing you.

With my best wishes & regards.... good luck and please keep me informed of any progress

The dream and faith have already gone.

In Baghdad, my good Non-Arab, Non-Iraqi boss was following up with me and when he knew that my company in Dubai had nothing to do for me he tried to help through his contacts in UAE, after all, our company was struggling to keep working in Iraq and we were threatened to lose everything in any minute especially after our company was attacked.

One morning,a well well known Iraqi-British business man called me and asked me few questions and said he would apply a visit visa for me and when I went there he would try to set me residency with his company or another company if I wanted to.

He made it clear that it was because I was single that I was rejected.

The new visit visa application took months in processing. Every now and then I receive and email from my boss asking me to provide a certain document, once it was my college certificate to prove that I was a college graduate. They were probably worried I would be a belly dancer lasama7 Allah.
Another time they were asking for my old passport and my old visa to prove that I was in UAE before. For Iraqis being in UAE before should facilitate your second visa, even the tourism offices in Amman would not submit your visa application if you had not been there. Once again they were asking for my mother’s document to prove that she was with me.

After three months, my visa application was rejected and, again, for unannounced reasons.

During that time, a new girl was brought to the office. She worked for another company but in the same building with us. She was very loud and funny; you could always hear her voice while making fun of others or joking around. In spit I was in front of her the whole time she did not find me interesting to say hello, well, not until my colleague arrived from his business trip and I started to see a lot of her.

She liked my colleague and I started noticing the flirting when ever my colleague went to have coffee or using the copy machine. That did not bother me but actually added fun to the dull atmosphere we were working in and gave me some laughs every now and then. I stopped laughing when she started trying to make friends with me to come and sit in our office and see more of my colleague. She would come sit with me like 15 minutes every day, talk about everything and anything. She did not need my contribution to the one sided conversation beside the occasional nodding or the “Yah”, “Of course” and “Ok” from my side.
She used to work with the American Army but found it too risky to continue with them so she switched to another company. She told me some shocking stories that you cannot just share with strangers. She told me about how once she entered a room on two, American solider and some Iraqi prostitute!! I had many question marks on her but I knew that story was told me to as a threat too. She knows a lot and she is well connected. Got the message.

She once stepped into our office and started telling me that she is not comfortable with everything and wanted to leave to Dubai and since everyone in the company knew I was in Dubai she asked if I could join her and leave together.
I gave her a diplomatic answer and she left after telling me she would do it whether I would go or not.
My colleague looked at me in fear after she was out of our office and said” You’d be crazy if you considered going with her”.. “I am not planning to” I answered.

That girl holds Non Iraqi passport and despite she worked with the invasion force, the UAE authorities granted her a residency. I knew that when she returned back to Iraq, just like me, resigned and took all her stuff and returned to the country who calls Iraqis “ Our Muslim Brothers and Sisters”

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Interview

I went to the embassy and dropped my request letter at the reception and explained the purpose behind my visit. I thought I would be put on the waiting list but amazingly they told me to wait.
After about half an hour, a UAE diplomat was holding my file and apparently he recognized me from my photos attached to my documents I gave with the letter. He headed towards me and asked me to join him in his office.
Since I am quite stupid when it comes to linking photos to their originals I failed to know at first that that diplomat was not Mr. Ali AlKa’abi. However he introduced himself to me later.

He read my letter and started to go through my passport not hiding his amazement at how many countries I traveled to, even though they were like 5 countries and all were in the Middle East. Feeling being judged by him for some reason, I explained to him how my business nature requires traveling.
He started asking me about my visit to UAE and how I found it and for some reason I thought the interview was not quite professional as I hoped it would be.

I did not want to talk about how modern and westernized I found Dubai was, I did not want to compliment the hotel services there or even compare them to the bad conditions that some poor people were living in the back streets of some areas in Dubai. I did not want to let how know how much I was quite amazed at how they could show the good and hide the bad in UAE, I did not want to tell him the number of how many females hit on me right in the most popular places in Dubai. I just wanted to explain to him, as a hard working lady that UAE attracted me from that specific angle of having a huge number of opportunities for me and that I was in need to save my family from my own country.

I soon found a chance to talk about the company that hired me in Dubai and the circumstances of the whole situation. I was a bit not comfortable but I thought, those men are from a different culture and I was just not familiar with that.
At the end of the interview and confirming to him upon his inquiry that my contact information at the bottom of my letter were valid and were my personal numbers I headed to my office with a promise of an appointment with the Charge' d'affaires soon.

After half an hour I was still on my way to my office, I was stuck in a traffic jam at the end of AlJadriya Bridge due to a check point where I received a phone call. It was that Diplomat figure informing me that he made me an appointment with Mr. Ali right on the next day morning. I was amazed at how good that man was with me and how fast he sprang an action for my own interest.
When I was in Dubai I hardly met any locals but I was blown away at that moment of how helpful they were.

Hmmm.. Dear readers please remind me to mock myself later on.

My future boss was excited when I emailed him and told him about my plan as his email showed:

Hi (…..)
I am so pleased you are still trying, it would be great if
the UAE ambassador can assist. I am going to ask (…….) to email you a scanned
copy of the rejected application; maybe he can overturn the decision. The
ministry did not provide us with any explanation or reasons and when we tried to
use people of influence it did not help either. The feeling was that is must be
something personal and whoever was responsible for the rejection did not want to
be reasonable nor helpful in changing his decision. I wish you the best of luck
with the meeting ... Please let us know the outcome.
Best wishes & regards

Next day came and again I took another bunch of the whole copies and went to the embassy.

Sat down in the reception and I waited for my turn. Many people were there as well. A couple was sitting next to me who really disgusted me when they were complimenting UAE and Sheikh Zayed so loud I could not hear my own thoughts. Not that I am against complimenting such a great man who built a country out of nothing and a man that every single local respects and loves to this day but it was so obvious what trick they were pulling and it was so pathetic.

The Diplomat guy I met popped his head and greeted me wishing me luck.

After a while Mr. Ali asked me to join him in the same office and unlike his colleague who was the one asking so many questions this time I was asked to deliver my story.

I started telling him everything showing him my contract with my company, my current company ID which is well known, our two visas.
He was quite calm, sitting there on the sofa with his back comfortably touching the back of the sofa while I was sitting on the edge of my chair. He asked me a couple of times to recite a prayer on our Prophet while speaking!!!!

After finishing he was still calm and silent with a smile. I did not understand so I asked him openly, do you have any laws against permitting Iraqi nationals residencies or visas to your country? “No we do not” That was his quick reply.

I was a bit confused sitting there doing the big part of talking and not receiving any useful word in return. I told him straight “ If you have any kind of laws or even instructions against Iraqis I promise I would back off and leave the matter for I would definitely have to respect your rules and laws had they been official” again the answer “No, No we do not have anything like that” came out with even more determination.
I asked him then why have I been treated like that? He was smiling when asked me again to recite a prayer on our Prophet!!!!!

I got more serious and told him that I was ready to provide him with every single official paper they would ask for in order to prove that I was a good Iraqi citizen since the day I was born.

I had not one single problem during my school, not one single issue during my four years at engineering college, my family is quite reputed and I offered him to bring him even our house registration papers and my parent’s pension papers. He smiled and said there was no need.

I asked him my final question.. What to do?
He asked me to request my company in Dubai to re-submit my residency application in order to join them and start working in Dubai and in case it was rejected again he would interfere but he confirmed they would not reject it and there must have been a mistake at first place!!!!


I thanked him for his kindness by receiving me and giving me the chance to have my story being heard by such a reputed representative.

As I was walking away from his office he received another female with the same smile I got used to during the 20 minutes interview I had with him.

After that meeting I phoned my family to assure them that the meeting went well and another door of hope just opened up to me. I emailed my boss after failing to call him for he was so busy and informed him by email of Mr. Ali’s request in order to solve my pending problem.

At 8pm sharp, I was in my bedroom working on my computer when something weird happened.

My mobile rang and the number of the first diplomat guy I met was there!! The call was not during the working hours!! I remember it rang for a while until I decided to pick it up. He could be having some good news for me!

Well he did not!! He was just flirting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since I was so into my problem I could not get it at first and guess what I thought? I thought he must be checking my background if they decided to let me in Dubai!

I know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After seeing all the low stuff in Dubai I should not have worried about that but my brain was so occupied with my life that I could not get it.

I deliberately called him Brother (Akh) to show him I was not interested. Guys tend to be nice at first to check girls’ reaction before they attack so I must have delayed that move for a while.

After making sure he was not calling for my issue or to deliver me any news I apologized and hung up the phone for having some work to do, After hearing his life story and after having the privilege of being called Princess of Iraq.. Not flattered…

I struggle to comprehend how some men push their luck too much when they cheaply shoot way beyond their capabilities. First, not only the guy had a clear lack of education that he could hardly put together a useful sentence that you can make something out of it but had the most hideous looks ever. Did he really think that his disrespectful attitude+ his looks were a good package to offer? I was literally looking down at him, mentally and physically. Some men!

I swallowed that insult and had to vent my huge shock and anger with my closest friend, my mother. She tried her best to comfort me but I was angry at myself so much that no one could do anything at that time. I should have just hung up on him without saying a word even though the guy was decent but the intention what counts for me. But……. I simply could not. That kills me up till this day.

I was waiting for the next day impatiently to talk to my boss in Dubai to discuss with him what to do.

I was waiting for a suitable time to call him but I received another disturbing call instead from who other than Mr. Thinks-too- much- of- himself.

I picked up this time quickly with determination to be practical and polite at the same time. My situation was still critical. I let him talk for 5 minute and hanged up after I did most of the talking about my case. I was smart this time.

After a while my boss from Dubai phoned me, I could sense there was something wrong from his voice but I did not give it too much of a deal and asked him if he received my email to receive his answer revealing the anxiety I felt from his voice” We have already managed to submit your residency twice and that happened after submitting your case to the board as a rare case since you were Iraqi and there were no legal or valid reasons behind the rejection. I doubt if we can make another exception and submit for the third time. This is quite known in Dubai!! Any company and according to the laws cannot submit residency or visa application more than once. “

He also told me that they had to pay about a 7000 Dirham as insurance to be refunded whether the residency was rejected or accepted but the authorities never gave it back to them.

I hung up with who was about to be my boss and I let my body slump into the chair in my office and gazed into the huge dark hole that was surrounding me.

Suddenly I could understand what that smile was for.
To be continued......

Monday, December 04, 2006

This is How you Kill a Dream...Easy!

After about ten days of hard work and correspondences between me and my company in Dubai I sent them by DHL all the documents needed including copies of entirely new passport for the old one was with an old photo of me and we wanted everything to be correct.

My future boss was on vacation at that time but he was so kind to follow up with me and his secretary in order to finalize everything so that by the end of August I would be their official employee.

Alongside my other preparations I put two suit cases on a small table in my bed room and put all the necessary things I would be taking,especially the winter wardrobe to make sure I would not forget anything and to save me some time and some panicking. I hate packing on the last minute!

The days I spent in Baghdad after coming from Dubai were quite hectic and I was 24/7 busy.
I worked overtime to compensate the times I am off office to finish my papers and also to finish the accumulated work of the month I spent in Dubai in addition to my leaving everything mental and physical preparations. I was keen to wake up on week end so early to spend as much as I can with my family and I was keen not to sleep after I get back from work at 6pm to again spend the time with them.

I started feeling quite awkward when September came and I was still sitting in my office in Baghdad! A couple of inquiries from my side and responds from my company stated that my papers were already submitted and there is no reply yet. It usually took 2 weeks so we were in the safe side, which is what I have been told.

My future boss assured me that it’s ok if it took some time for even though he has a foreign passport the immigration of Dubai gave him hard time when he was to renew his residency.

During that time a problem occurred in Baghdad International Airport regarding the Baghdad-Dubai flights which were achieved by three airlines, two foreign airlines and one by the Iraqi airlines making three flights per day. The problem reduced the flights and the nearest one I could find was quite far. Still not knowing what was my situation I emailed my future boss to inquire.

His response came on 11th of September,2005 and it stated:

It looks like the visa is in security now and we don’t know how long that will take..... I suggest you book for the 21st flight and then if anything changes between now and then we can review situation then.

A week later, a quite disturbing email came from him:

We had a setback with your visa last week, but we are trying to use a 'wasta' to
help. We hope to hear either today or tomorrow if we have been successful. I
know it is confusing, please bear with us for the next couple of days while we
try to sort out Thanks & regards

Another week, another email:

Good morning (.........)

I am sure you have been anxiously waiting to hear news from us - as we have also been trying very hard to get the visa sorted out. We have been asked to resubmit the paperwork, which we have done today. Inshallah I hope we hear something positive either later today or tomorrow. With best regards

Even though it is over a year since I received those emails, still I cannot help but feeling the heavy cloud of sadness, depression and lack of hope sitting on my chest jubt by reviewing the emails.

My bags were still on that table, my boss in Baghdad started to ask me frequently about my situation and he started to worry for me, my family started trying to locate some good contacts to help me sort out my problem. I phoned every single person living in Dubai I know, even the visa guy who issued our visas. All confirmed that their male friends did not have a problem getting jobs and residencies there with a push from a good contact, local UAE contact. As for the females, no one knew.

It is quite disturbing to go back there and remember everything. Amazingly everything is engraved in my brain, kept aside somewhere ready to be called again.

I remember I fought back all the negativity, mentally at least. Physically my body was showing the stress indications.I lost more weight, black bags started to show on my face and every one who envied me for leaving the country started to smile at me with mean eyes when they see me passing by.

My future boss urgently requested more photos and so I did. His email came as another slap:
Thanks for the photo.... we have resubmitted the papers this week, but can do nothing but wait for a reply. It seems that UAE immigration is getting tougher with Iraqi's. I hope that your current employer/boss is sympathetic to the situation and that this is not causing you too much stress.
Will hopefully hear one way or the other saturday or maybe sunday as the
immigration & labour offices are closed for the weekend.
With best regards

October came and the final strike came with it by this email:

The situation is not good I'm afraid... The security (emin) for the ministry of labor rejected your application, we have tried through a number of ways and wasta's that is why we again resubmitted your papers. We heard that they are not willing to reverse the decision. I am sorry to have to tell you the news so directly. We will try again with one other contact and will get him the papers today, otherwise we can only wait and try to resubmit again in the future.
Believe me when I say that we have tried very hard to get this resolved and are also very disappointed. I will let you know how we get on with the final contact
we are trying.. With kind regards

Now when I think of it, I feel I was still in denial at that point for I was still clinging to my future boss. Was digging for any hope but it was all dark. Maybe the unsaid good bye from my future boss was the reason.

My bags were still there gazing at me whenever I walk into my room or the minute I wake up, they were there. I was like a zombie walking in our company, lost the sense of being among my colleagues. I started isolating myself. Some of my colleagues thought I was coming out of a tragic love affair that left me as a wreck.

One day as I was sitting in the living room sipping my morning tea. My dad, sitting in the garden with his newspaper in his hand,called out for me. He handed me over the newspaper saying read this.

It was an interview with the Charge' d'affaires of UAE Embassy in Baghdad, Mr. Ali Alka’abi. My heart was beating so fast when I read one of the sub head lines stating: “No Restrictions on Issuing Visas to UAE and Some People are Manipulating Iraqis” …

Ok now I cannot help not feeling like a damn fool by just revealing what I had felt but let it be.

I did not read between the lines, did not realize the lies in there but my eyes went to where my heart wanted and saw the phrases that I needed the most.

This is the translation for the bits circled in red which is translated by one of my best friends :
Reporter: Iraqis face difficulties when it comes to UAE visas and rumors say that UAE do not issue visa to those who never entered UAE before 2003.

Mr.Ali Al-Ka’abi: There is absolutely no difficulty. What we did was assuring that the process of issuing the visas is done by official conveniences for there are certain people who are making business of out it. The visa fees do not exceed (300) AED which is less than (100) USD, however some of the unauthorized individuals are selling it with +1000 USD there for we wanted to protect the Iraqi citizens from these swindling and conning trade despite that we do not authorize issuing visas in Iraq.

As for the claim that visas are granted only to those who have been to the UAE before, it is groundless. On the contrary we have been making things easier particularly for Iraqis, there are no restrictions whatsoever against their stay in our state, even those who have violated the immigration laws have not been deported, they are well treated.


I decided that I should request a meeting with Charge' d'affaires of UAE Embassy in Baghdad, Mr. Ali Alka’abi. I prepared a letter of a meeting request, explained in it briefly the whole facts.
The newspaper, copies of my passports (old & new), the visa, my resume, my college certificate approved by the Embassy and our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the employment contract with my company in Dubai, the correspondence emails with my company and even official papers of our house in Baghdad and my family. All were enclosed with that letter.

To be continued......

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Organizing My Life

There was no reason to stay in Dubai. The company would submit my residency application and according to the immigration laws I should re-enter UAE with the residency. It was July and majority of the employees including my future boss would be on vacation for the whole coming month of August. It was a good chance for me as well to inform my manager in Baghdad and try to reduce the three months notice to one month.

I decided I should leave most of my clothes and stuff with my college friend in Dubai. Left some other stuff with my Greek lady friend. I wanted to come back with more of my clothes especially the heavy stuff since winter was on doors.

I discussed with my Greek lady friend the possibilities of sharing the room together for the first month so I can seize the time and look for more appropriate accommodation. It was something that I thought to do even from Baghdad.

I set everything in Dubai to be ready for my return after one month.

I reached Baghdad two days after receiving the draft contract. I spent in Dubai 28 days. I had only $900 US with me to return to Baghdad with. That was all what I have left with me from my savings which were about $6000 US. High price but totally worth it, I was thinking!
I would work for the other month in Baghdad and the salary of that month plus the end of year bonus which I was thinking to take it in advance for the months I worked would be more than enough to pay the rents for housing, food and transportation until I receive my first salary in Dubai.

My manager in Baghdad was more than understanding when I told him about finding a job in Dubai and that it was time to leave.. It was quite an emotional moment. I started working in the company the day one it started operating in Baghdad. I knew every single paper in our files. My colleague and I, being the only permanent employees of the company for the company's situation never settled down due to the security conditions in Iraq and the company headquarter found it was wise not to expand and hire many which would throw more responsibility on the company in protecting its employees, were like a family along with our manager and deputy.

The three months notification was not even a problem and my kind boss even refused to talk about it. They wished me well and they asked me to look for a substitute.
I wanted to continue with the company with its Branch in UAE but since our company is so big that its branches were considered separate entity and since our company do not have employees transferring between branches privilege I had to apply with recommendation from my managers in Iraq but they were intimidated and they sent me an open email at the time stating that Iraqis are not accepted to work inside UAE and that has got to do with the immigration ministry of Dubai and UAE in general. I was quite taken aback by that answer and thought that they are so arrogant and did not try again with them. Little I knew!

Back in Baghdad, things were not good at all. The minute we got out from the airport heading to our house we realized how the streets of Baghdad have changed during that month we spent in UAE. 60% of the roads were blocked by huge concrete walls just like in Palestine. My sister warned me that there was only one way to get to home since every single road around our house was blocked.

Services like Electricity, water, gasoline and diesel were almost invisible. A new contractor in the neighborhood bought a huge generator and started to sell electricity to the neighborhood houses. My Dad and sister managed to buy 10 amperes and the small switching board was installed inside the house for security reasons since going out to switch between national electricity, public generator and house generator was more dangerous than ever even if it was only across the garden.

My sister told us the things she could not say on the phone or while chatting so she would not trouble us with all their burdens. She told me how terrified she was spending that month with my old father checking him out every hour to see if he was breathing or not. At 50 Celsius in July with no electricity was a hell for us let alone a man in his mid 70’s and since he had a stroke before it was quite critical. The government along with the invasion was like revenging from the Iraqi people. We hardly had any electricity and if we had it was for only an hour per day. The street generator was sufficient only for the fan but it was not enough to operate an AC, obviously! Of course that goes on the house generator which we had no way to provide with gasoline since the gas stations were packed and the quality sold in black markets were so bad that it used to cause hard to repair damages in the generator.

First night I spent in Baghdad was like hell. If I went to hell instead of heaven after I die, I think I would feel home. Probably will just ask for a manual fan!
First thing I had it done was sending by post my university certificates singed and approved by the UAE Embassy of Baghdad in addition to the necessary approvals and stamps of the Iraqi authorities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to my new company in Dubai to be Sent along with the residency application to the Immigration Ministry in Dubai.

I spent the following weeks working hard to leave my office neat and organized to set it for the new employee. Finding the suitable substitute was next , found a couple and pending their applications was the only way since I was not sure when exactly I would take off to UAE.

I was searching for accommodation in Dubai from Baghdad. I thought there would be no harm doing so even though I had in mind a place to stay in with my Greek friend.

I wanted to share with decent girls. I did not want to bump into one’s boyfriend wandering around in the house. I wanted to use the facilities in the house without worrying of diseases being transferred to my body. I do not drink or smoke nor the females in my family do and had no intention to change the atmosphere I was used to.

That was hard to achieve. In Dubai unmarried couples share bedrooms everywhere! Even though I have heard that there is a law against that, it seemed that law was on paper only. With that kind of life in Dubai, I doubt if such laws were applicable.

The Syrian guy who rented for us the room in his flat told us he was occupying a room with his wife and it turned out the next day that the Pilipino wife was actually his girl friend. She was an awesome person, very nice and decent but I hated that I was not given the choice to know all the facts before deciding. The guy knew that we would refuse the offer had we knew the facts earlier and he deliberately hided them. I discussed with my mother and since it was hard to retrieve my money back we decided to stay, after all we would be in our bed room the whole time.

I did not want to repeat that. With all due respect to people’s different traditions, we have ours and it is quite hard to accept different ones especially when you face them everyday and keep wondering how? I am old fashioned I know!

I was getting ready to say good bye to my comfortable house, to my bed room, to the times I usually spend with my family sipping tea in the living room. My sister was the biggest hurdle, my soul mate.

To be continued...
P.S: I think the next post will be the hardest to write for me. It might take me some time to post it.

Friday, November 24, 2006


This ugly but adorable cat which belonged to the land lord’s girlfriend gave me hard time every time I was on the phone having a job interview or taking the directions and contact information of a certain company for interview purposes. She used to lay flat on my note book not giving me any space to write and while my hands were busy I used to push her gently away then have to concentrate on the phone call while she was climbing me. I laughed loudly once while being interviewed!

These photos were taken while I was in Dubai for the first time when my college friend took us from the hotel to Ibn Battoota. I was amazed by the construction taking place there.
Deserts were literally been turned into buildings. I was thinking of Iraq.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


It did not take me long to return back to my spirit and I was back on track right the next day morning sending my resumes to every single Ad that matched my qualifications from the net café near the hotel. Then another run on the Ads to find an accommodation in Dubai.

My efforts started to pay off when I had my first job interview on that day, first working day after the weekend. I still remember the excitement and joy I had.

Then more nice news crowned my happiness when I found a place to stay in. It was the first landlord to accept Arabs “I usually do not accept Arabs but since you are with your mother”.. I did not know that Arabs have such a bad reputation! Did I mention the landlord was Syrian?

I agreed with him on the time and place to meet to take us to his flat to see the place and decide. One of the Pakistani drivers picked us up and got us to Dubai. He hardly spoke any English and I needed a translator for the Arabic he was speaking but he was a nice young man.

Even though I was so in need of that place I was still concerned about the whole atmosphere of the place my mother and I will spend the next few weeks in.

The place as a whole was not that great at all but the room it self was in good condition, the shared kitchen!!.. Well, it’s going to be for few weeks for God’s sakes!! I was convincing myself.

The good points were the internet café steps away from the building entrance and the other one few minutes away, the place was in Bur Dubai which is almost near everything. Super markets, restaurants and malls. Most importantly it was almost the heart of Dubai that I can head to any place from by buses or taxies without too much trouble. I do not remember thinking of my own house and my own luxurious bed room which I was so keen on taking in consideration the smallest detail while re decorating it and buying the new furniture and beddings for it. My room was and still my sanctuary.

After agreeing with the guy on paying him a whole month rent even though I was staying for less than a month, he was kind to drop us in Sharjah to check out from the hotel and move to Dubai. It was quite a hectic day for after moving to Dubai I headed off to my first interview.

I, feeling that things were starting to fall into their places, was very relaxed, how can I not be when it was the chance to prove myself as I have ever desired, a professional working Iraqi lady.

The recruitment agency subjected me to a test of several stages to evaluate my personality, my typing speed, ability of communication, my computer skills and other things.

It seems that they were pretty much pleased with my qualifications for till the last day I was in Dubai they were calling me to fix me interviews with top notches companies.

That first interview gave me the boost I needed.

I started receiving so many calls to set job interviews that I had to make an appointment schedule for myself and the note book is still with me filled with all the remarks, phone numbers and addresses. There were days that I had to go to three different interviews.
I started getting many offers that I started thinking differently.

My goals started to slightly change from trying to get out of my damaged country with any good job to settle down with in UAE to finding the best job that match my qualifications. My standards became higher and I had to refuse some of offers and put others on hold to wait for better opportunity.

My short life in Dubai was spent in the different companies of Dubai from morning till evening then at internet cafes the rest of the day.

Not all of the interviews were successful but I was quite tolerant with myself, unlike always, and was easing it up on myself by counting the past mistakes as future advantages, for example at one point I went too far by praising my current company that I was and still working for. That apparently did not appeal to the interviewers. I learned to speak shortly about my previous jobs and not to expose my true feelings about them..

At another point the Lebanese manager did not like me at first glance and he spent the whole interview putting his eyes in the paper. Judging from the female workers at his company there was no way he would hire me or even like me. I was not showing any cleavage nor even I was a Blondie. I was happy he did not like me. I would have despised myself if he had.

I found my perfect chance when another recruiting company who had me interviewed on the phone called me to send me to a British construction company. I checked out the company on the internet to know more about it like I did with most of the other companies I had interviews with. That day was packed with another two more interviews. I reached to the company minutes before the appointment set for me, 3pm that was. Feeling drained and looking horrible in every sense of the word I filled a form before entering the building. Sat in the reception waiting for my interviewer to come to pick me up. Minutes later the nice Indian lady came to me, introduced her self and showed me the way to another office were I knew I would be waiting for her manager to interview me.

Few minutes later I was amazingly sitting comfortably in my chair facing the half British half Iraqi manager. He was one of the most wonderful people I have met during all the job interviews and life in general in Dubai. He never lived in Iraq but his Iraqi accent was not bad at all. I loved the fact that he asked me about conditions in Iraq and that he was concerned, that finally someone was actually caring and understanding what we’re going through. I did not want to talk about the conditions in Iraq and turn things into a tragedy. I tried to talk breifly about my Iraq but the problem is that everything is linked together and you have to mention it once or twice no matter how hard you try not to.

The interview went so well that I was being asked to attend another interview to meet the General Manager and another person that would evaluate my personality in general and how it would serve the company.

The second interview went even better. I sat with the presence of the manager I first met and the social lady for more than an hour. I felt I was under the microscope .
On that interview, the nature of the questions forced me to talk about the war and the conditions I lived through out the dictatorship of Saddam till the American invasion.

I was proud of myself after the interview. I found out that I have been through a lot. I fell many times, I broke many times and I thought I lost hope so many time that I could not even remember, still I was in Dubai, away from all that destruction, despite the isolation we as Iraqis were living during Saddam and the period of the embargo which was educational more than anything else, I still competed with people who never been into such difficulties. That is a privilege that we Iraqis tend not to realize. We are stronger than others.

The result of the interview was as I was expecting. Very pleasant to the manager that made them even more determined to assign me.

My future boss sat with me and told me about his decision of changing the job structure. I still remember his words; I remember the office and the small photos of his children, and the whole atmosphere which is still present in my mind till this moment. I knew what he was about to say was serious and I remember I was listening attentively. He said “we usually set the job descriptions and search for the right people to fill the position, however with you and for the first time we are doing something else. We found you and we will build around you the job that you, with your qualification will do for us”

I was calmly trying to absorb everything. I felt I deserve it!!. It was not my super magical professional talent that gained me all the interviews or won me this great chance of working for one of the biggest companies in Dubai with all those great people. I am sure I am not the one and only so great worker and I am sure the world is filled with such talented and devoted people with amazing experience. I believe what made me win this opportunity is stumbling with this great understanding man who saw my determination, my eagerness to learn, my persistence on fighting back and finding away.

Everything was going according to my plan. I felt my feet was not touching the ground on my out of the company to the street to take a cab to our place to tell Mom of the good news, well they were bad a bit for her. Her daughter will leave the house, the whole country and will live alone at least for the first few months until I was to pull them out of Iraq. She cried and I cried with her. But it was the way how it should be. Iraq was going from bad to worse and no one knew how bad it could become until things start to get normal. There’s no question about the rightness of my decision in the first place. It was how to deal with the matter.

It was my day number 12 in UAE and I got the prefect job, there was only one point that I had no idea about and it was left to the third and last interview where they tell me their final decision which we all knew at that point. It was the salary package that I had no idea about. A very important point since I was a foreigner starting from zero in a foreign country with not much left savings.

I continued on attending interviews and see how the salary rates vary, the work atmospheres and the positions offered.

I was more relaxed and started going out with my mother and with another lady that lived in our same flat. I enjoyed going out with my new European lady friend. She was in her mid forties and we quite hit it off. I felt I knew her since long time. She used to work as a fabric quality controller in fashion houses in her own country and was trying to settle down in UAE. Her computer skills were very weak so I spent most of the times working on her resume and finding her a job, since I had plenty of time and there was no pressure on me.

Her luck was not as mine and she did not receive offers at all. I felt so sad for her. She was already staying in UAE for three months and her visit visa was about to end so she had to go to Oman and come back. I was amazed how a passport can facilitate all that. With my passport I would have had to pay another 1200 USD to get back to UAE while with other passports all you have to do is to bring it with you and they will stamp it for you and let you in. Amazing!!!

I received the awaited call from the dream company and I was told to bring my passport, personal photographs, the visa and other documents!!!

That’s it!

I hugged my mother so tight. Called my sister in Baghdad and told her I might find my way, finally. I wanted her to report to my father so he would be in the picture. It’s a major move for me and for my family as a whole.

I sat down with my future boss, another two people involved and the UAE local who was responsible of issuing the residencies for the new employees of the company.

I felt home when I was entering the company for the third time.. I heard the receptionist announcing that I was the new employee when she was asked by another employee. I walked across the wide entrance and poured me a cup of coffee from the coffee machine standing in the reception and sat there smiling. Employees where passing by saying hello as if I was already one of them.
That gave me flash backs from the atmosphere I was working at in Baghdad, the place that was bombed was exactly like that. People there were so casual and down to earth, , the diversity of the people made that place succeed and created wonderful working atmosphere and I felt it’s the same case in this new company too.

I was handed the draft of the contract. The salary package was 8000 Dirhams/ month, to be increased after 6 months, courses to be given during the first couple of months and along the way, health insurance, annual flight ticket, annual bonus of one up to three salaries to be granted at the end of the year.

To be continued...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Still in Sharjah

Knowing it was no vacation nor time to have fun and explore the city, I woke up in the early morning and got ready to start working. Most importantly get a mobile line so companies can contact me. There were these little complicated matters like when I bought the Sim card I did not know that you must take with you with you some ID like your passport, so we had to contact the hotel which kept our passports with them as long as we’re staying there and ask them to fax mine, not sure if that is applicable on all nationalities. Anyways, I did not care that much.

While walking through the huge shopping mall in Sharjah, I did not even blink not even I stopped to gaze at anything. Now when I think of it I feel I was hypnotized for in my nature I love clothes, shoes, make up like any other girl still I was not into that at all.

Dropping my mother at the hotel I went out, bought newspapers for I know from internet that what ever you want to find you’ll find it in their newspapers. Job Ads, accommodation Ads and anything else. My search for an internet café did not last long and I found one in another hotel then another hidden one behind our hotel. I spent most of the day there, scanning the Ads in the newspaper and putting my standard cover letter which I used to change bits and pieces of it to match the Ads requirements and attaching my resume. Got back to hotel and took my mother out to buy dinner and walk for a while. I felt sad for my mother. I was in the middle of something but she had to take all that anxiety of being a total stranger in a foreign country with her crazy daughter. It was a foreign country that did not look like any Arab country I have been in before.

After dinner and some rest I started working on finding accommodation in Dubai from the newspapers’ Ads. Most people there rent their flats or villas for a bunch of different people since Dubai is a business capital and expatriates travel to UAE from all over the world to work and live there. Huge numbers of expatriates live alone in one room in a flat or villa shared with other expats.

I had quite a hard time trying to find a place to live in in Dubai considering the difficulty in getting to Dubai with all the traffic jam I heard about. Every time I called a number from the newspapers I had dismay when I found out the Indian families prefer Indian people to rent for, Pakistani people were the same . Most of them could hardly speak English. Others did not want to rent to a single woman with her mother (I wonder had I been alone what would have had happened!!). No one seemed to want Arabs!! I could not find an accommodation and that allowed frustration to crawl into my soul.

I was thinking of the worst thing that could happen, no accom. in Dubai. Ok, let me work on finding means of transportation even if it took me hours to get there.

Even though I decided not to call my friend who already helped me with the visa guy at first for I did not want to trouble him, I did eventually. Feeling so embarrassed to ask him for another favor he noticed and reassured me that he considered me as his little sister and he recommended a couple of Pakistani cab drivers to get me where ever I want . He gave more credit to one of them saying the other one is a bit of a womanizer but in case there was no other choice I should go for that one.

That day pretty much ended with no achievements of what so ever.

It was Friday. I was feeling real bad. No accommodation in Dubai, spending my money on this hotel I was staying in and except for the other run I made on the accommodation Ads in the newspapers which ended pretty much like the day before, I did not have anything else to do. I decided to call a friend of mine who lived in Dubai for the last 4 years. I was hesitant. He was my first male colleague that I made friends with at college. We had a great friendship that even our families got together at the end and I used to go out with his sisters to theaters and restaurants, back then of course we had such life in Baghdad, yet when he moved to UAE I noticed the changes. My mother encouraged me to contact him but I was afraid he would disappoint me. Finally I convinced my self to at least say hello on the phone. It was quite funny when he shouted in surprise Ya Allah when he knew who was on the other end of the line. The way he received me after saying my name was amazing that made me feel stupid I thought of him negatively in the first place.
I guess it is the fast life outside Iraq that makes people sound less interested in old friendships!! The funny thing is that he hanged up after seconds from knowing I was in Sharjah saying “I’m coming to get you”!!! Few seconds later he called back mumbling “errrmm ,, hmmm ,, where are you in Sharjah??!!” My mother and I laughed for the first time from our hearts since we entered UAE.

Half an hour later he entered the lobby and after over than three years we met again. He was always the brother I never had at college days and once I saw him I felt he was still the same brother I knew.

He took us to Dubai to an Iraqi Masgoof restaurant. I forgot its name for I was still floating with my own problems of accommodation, finding a job, expenses …etc.

We had lunch with his sister ,her family and his other sister who was visiting them from Baghdad. I hardly ate.

I started receiving phone calls regarding the accommodation while we were sitting at the restaurant since I had I left a couple of Ads and sent a few emails regarding this matter earlier.

My friend offered me rides to go check the two residences in Dubai. Both were for females and both were far away from the city. Same problem!! Oh also there was no furniture not even a curtain on the huge bed room windows. I did not want to furnish a room for the 3 weeks I was staying there. After all, three weeks plus mines were all what I had as an official leave from my company in Iraq.

My friend insisted on taking us on a tour to Ibn Battota mall. Amazing mall but I was not in the mood. No need to mention that my mother and I felt even more miserable after that. People around us seemed quite settled without any pains, buying clothes , taking pictures and having fun while I was thinking of my father and sister who we left back in Baghdad. “Dad must be sitting in front of T.V watching news while the generator must be working, who did operate it going out in the dark? My sister must be studying in her bed room upstairs, or did she get all her stuff downstairs to stay with dad, are they safe now? Any bombs?”. That kind of thoughts.

We got back to the hotel real late and while we were in the car, I was watching the streets of Dubai all the way reaching to Sharjah, the lights, the buildings, the cars, the life. My heart was sinking deeper feeling that I did not belong anywhere in this world.
To be continued....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Arriving Dubai... Well Sharjah more like it!

Filled with contradicted mixed feelings of fear, excitement, anxiety, happiness and sadness I left to Baghdad Airport with my mother to fly to Dubai. We stayed at the Airport for 7 hours hearing all kinds of rumors about whether the flight was canceled or not and finally it was confirmed that flight was canceled due to the bad weather in Dubai which had the plane never leave Dubai Airport.

That was pretty much normal in Iraq. I hated going back that dangerous road of the Airport. A highway filled with military vehicles of the American army, armored cars of the foreign companies who can shoot you at any minute if you by mistake approach them not to mention the sideroad bombs planted here and there along side that highway and to top that up the bombed cars that goes boom right at the gate of Baghdad Airport which is the last unsecured point. Follows that gate a highly secured area, two check points including trained dogs to sniff the cars, another check point when we should step out of the car with our suit cases to have them searched in addition to a body search. After that another two check points with another bunch of sniffing dogs until we get inside the airport building. All that to protect American and expatriates who work in Iraq. (the dog’s salary per month is not less than $1500 US. Ironic isn’t?) We had to repeat all that the next day.
Finally we got on plane and the plane took off to Dubai.. The plane safely landed in Dubai Airport. I was dead calm as if all my feelings were suddenly paralyzed. That’s Dubai then!! After whole year of research, reading, preparing, and inquiring I was there! On Dubai’s land!
Everything was neat, everyone was busy doing their business, and somehow I had the impression of being in some kind of city ruled by robots! The shock was the weather, never thought it could be that bad. Once I stepped out of the plane I felt I’m suffocating. The temperature was almost like Baghdad’s but at least our weather is dry while the humidity in Dubai was unbearable. An Iraqi fellow on the plane offered me his mobile to call the visa guy to pick us up and take us to a hotel as agreed. I phoned the guy and told him what I was wearing to recognize us. The entrance procedures went all fine and I had a positive impression about the UAE people. Unfortunately the hotel that we were supposed to book in was totally booked and the visa guy had to take us to where he lives, Sharjah!!
I did not like the idea for I know Shajah is not the place to look for a job and also I did not want to get into an expensive hotel and waste what left of my savings before getting a job. I was very nervous when we started going from hotel to another asking about the rates. After a couple I decided what the heck, let us stay for two nights until I find a place. It was a four star hotel and it cost about $80 per night. Well... not that bad! I remember I could still feel the humidity even inside the hotel room despite the AC. I was restless. So many things in my mind. The priority was looking for a place to stay in in Dubai and looking for a job. After taking a shower and some rest we went out to exchange some money and have dinner out. The problem is that I could not tell the net café from the restaurant. For some reason all shops looked the same for me. I never had this problem in Egypt, Jordan or Syria. I asked the people walking by and they lead me to a place called Gold Market.

The place was awesome from the outside. From the inside it was a very normal eastern mall. I exchanged some money to pay the hotel and to buy our needs

The only restaurant we could find was an Iraqi one with really freaky guys staring from inside the place. We decided to have sandwiches from Spinnys.
I could not purchase a phone card that night and was told I could find it in City Center mall not anywhere else.

Gave my sister and father in Iraq a phone call from the hotel and slept to get ready to the busy day.

Here is a couple of not so great quality photos of two beautiful scenes from where I stayed in Sharjah:

To be continued...........

Monday, October 30, 2006

Starting Over?... Again?

After few months of working to my new company, things started to change and security situation started to be very bad. New terms entered our Iraqi life, terrorism, bombing cars and more terms that brought nothing but slow death to my job as to my own country.

My boss and the expatriates started leaving the country after many foreigners were killed just for being foreigners and to some radical narrow minded people that is alone a crime. We as locals were exposed to same level of danger had anyone know we were working for multinational company, therefore we had to rent a small office with a local company as undercover even though my company is a civilian multinational company that has got nothing to do with any kind of military issues ,still we were not safe.

Gradually after months I found myself with a quite lot of extra time, duties started to be less and less until I ran out of finding new ways to fill my day. I started feeling this huge emptiness inside my heart having to go to work every day at 7:30 Am seeing burned buildings on my way, burned cars, beggars, American military hummers and tanks and then leaving at 5 pm going back home passing through all that again. I saw once a dead body thrown in the street with people standing away from that young dead man’s body afraid to go near it, I guess that made me feel that that’s it. I have to move on.

The time I used to spend at office was very difficult on me. There was nothing to do and I was very tired of trying to invent things to make myself feeling productive, I used to gaze at the files I worked with my own hands, thinking of everything around me, amazed how things can turn around in little time. Since my job is my life and I can describe myself as workaholic, what happened with my career killed my soul and affected my health. I started to feel depressed and started losing weight.

A dear person to me out of his concern about the conditions I was living started advising me to get a job outside Iraq. I have never thought of living outside Iraq before even during Saddan’s ruling period.

Comprehending the thought of leaving my country, find a job and settle down consumed a lot of my friend’s time. Since he knows the system in UAE/ Dubai he spent weeks explaining it to me, how to find a place, how to find a job, how to write the resume, how to approach companies.. He taught me everything!

Since I had long hours of nothing to do at the office I made me a small operation office from there and started sending my resume to every single site I can find on the internet, posted uncountable Ad’s, participated in forums and chat sites to find a way.

Wherever I turned my head to , I found someone telling me that my path was hard.. Why? I am Iraqi and Iraqis are not very welcomed now since our country is invaded and its doors are open for all kind of terrorists to destroy and kill everything that was living then must be a question mark next to the word Iraqi on every single visa application. Never heard of such thing but this must be how it’s done.

The UAE embassy in Iraq did not have authority to issue visit visas for Iraqis but only transit visas so I had to travel to Amman and try through UAE embassy there, I have looked for traveling agencies in Iraq and in Jordan that were specialized in getting visas to many Arab countries. For a whole year I tried everything that I could easily become an expert in that field. Things were so hard and there was no way to get a visa since I am:

1- Iraqi
2- Woman
3- Single

During that year I had many offers, job interviews via phone and internet but it always reached to a dead end when it came to the physical interview to finalize the final step.

There were a lot of times when I lost hope and felt I hit the bottom of that dark hole I was living in and thought that my fate is to stay in a war zone. Suddenly a door was open to me and a guy I do not even know issued me and my mother two visit visas to UAE.

The single visit visa cost me $1200 US, that’s $2400 US for both of us. Visit visa to UAE cost other nationalities less than $100 US.

The guy did not ask me for the cost of visas he issued but also for the deposit money as well which is about $550 US/each visa. Since we are Iraqis the sponsor that this guy deals with who is of UAE nationality did not want to hold responsibility so he made us pay this money which usually get returned back after leaving UAE before the visit visa expired, that’s in three months.

Another dilemma, this guy wanted me to transfer him the whole sum which became $3,500 US from Iraq before even seeing the visas.

I spent two weeks inquiring about that visa which he said it was issued by the internet city. I thought it was a scam and I was an easy prey for this guy.

Another door was opened to me and a guy I knew from college who happened to live in Dubai since three years helped me and met with him and then traveled from Abu Dhabi to Dubai to officially make sure that there are actual visas by our names.

After I made sure I transferred the money while all kind of tiredness were starting to show on my face, anxiety made me lose a lot of weight and even though I was sent the two visas I was not sure what would happen. Almost all my savings were put in this project. I have studied every single step I should take. Housing, food, transportation..etc. Despite the huge amount I was paying just to set foot in UAE, I was optimistic for getting a job with my qualifications should cover all the expenses paid in less than 6 months.

Taking a leave from my company was not a hard job since my annual leave was due.

My boss already had knowledge of my plans of leaving Iraq and he was very supportive even if it meant to work for another company.

I booked the two flight tickets from Baghdad to Dubai and again, I was ready to start over again..

To be continued……………

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