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!!!
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...