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……………

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Beginning

Right After the War
I did not wait more than three months after the brutal war on the Iraqi people has stopped officially on April to get a new job after my company which I worked for over than three was looted. It was quite a disgraceful thing at that time to witness the events especially when it happens to be that I am no psychic to read the future and realize that more horrific things would take place later on and make looting sound just a normal reaction After all it did happen in many countries like Germany in WII and Canada when they had an Electricity black out.

Anyhow, realizing that there would be no Mukhabart (Saddam’s intelligence) again, I could apply to any international job. My dream was to enjoy the professional atmosphere in western systems for many reasons like:
1) The males in general respect working women and they do not look down at them regardless the certificate they hold
2) There is plenty of work and you spend all your time behind your desk working and working and giving all your energy and feel you ‘re productive, completely opposite to the state in the companies during Saddam’s era.
There are loads of other virtues of course but the two above are my priorities up till this moment.

After all the suffering, after all the darkness I lived, I felt freedom for the first time. I felt my true inner self was finally coming out to the light. I confidently shook all the previous years’ dust off my life and started over.

Ya Far7a Matammet!!!! ( The happiness that never meant to be)
Sadly, few months later I found myself on the reduction list among the 90% of the employees due to the bombing attack on our company which killed 12 people.

It shook me and changed my perspective!

Despite the short period I worked there, I had already succeeded in evolving my skills and making great friendships that I am proud I still have them till now.

New Start?
Knowing that I will lose my job I started studying offers. Iraq at that time, in the end of 2003 was still trying to get on its feet despite the bombing cars trend which started months after the announcement of the end of the war. Many international companies started to open in Iraq and I was offered a better position with a very reputed European company.

It was heaven!! The company was thriving and I was handling bigger responsibilities. I was planning to learn another language beside English to have another skill and my boss liked me which gave me even more confidence to be more active and more productive.
It was the beginning of 2004. I had a driver with a car and I used to get to office which was 20 km away from home at 7:30 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m or little more depending.
At that time it was dangerous to roam Baghdad streets in the dark when the city had no electricity (not that we have it now) with a posh car but compared to now, conditions were normal and peaceful.
Our streets were still not blocked, we did not have any Iraqi police yet , Iraqi National Guards nor Iraqi politicians, thus there were no crazy drivers with their gangs members coming out from the cars’ windows holding guns and shooting in the air. None of that was existed yet.

Despite the hard work I have never felt alive like that in my whole life. Happiness reflected on the quality of my work I was performing and glowed my face that I was given a nick name of “ Smiley face” which unfortunately has got nothing to do with me now. Well I do smile and laugh, I have been always appreciative to a good laugh but I was told that my smile never reach my eyes anymore. I usually take that note lightly for I succeeded in developing a level of tolerance with my own self. I agreed with myself not to hurt me too much and never give too much thought of what people say unless I can use it to my benefit. Try it, an excellent deal :)

To be continued………..

My First Post

This blog is dedicated to my small journey throughout these last three years, dedicated to a lost dream and to an unknown future. It is talking about my professional life.

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