Sunday, March 30, 2014

Staycation Day 3: Plus Size Shopping In The UAE

      The staycation continues and yesterday, I did a little shopping (whispers A LOT shhhhhh) . I am 5'9'' wear about a 1x on the bottom and a 2/3x on top. When I was moving to the UAE I was concerned I would not be able to find clothes. When I lived in Japan it was impossible to find anything to wear, the only store that carried clothes close to my size was Zara ($$$) so I had to get creative and buy men's clothes and alter them.
     I was ecstatic when I arrived in the UAE and discovered the selection of plus size clothing is better than Canada. One of the reasons for this is there are stores here from all over the world. One of my favorite is a store out of the UK called Matalan. Not only do their regular clothes section go up to a US 18, they also have a plus sized section. Some stores at home need to take note. I also find their prices extremely reasonable and their clothes are fun and current. The Matalan I love is located in Mushrif Mall in Abu Dhabi.

The dress that I wore to the all white party is from there.  They also have bathing suits.

These shorts and top are from there also (sandals are Nine West in case you cared). I love these shorts but they got reunited at the Full Moon party in Thailand (if you ever go to a Full Moon party do not wear anything you really like). Good news is that when I came back they had them and I bought another pair, the bad news is that they only had a size smaller. Guess I will just have to workout a bit more....

    My next favorite is Forever21, Dubai mall has the largest plus size section I have seen besides the one in Time Square in NYC and that F21 is four floors. Just like F21 at home, the items are hit and miss. There are somedays I want to buy everything and others days when I can't even find something to try on.

The romper from brunch a few weeks ago is from Forever21, sandals here are also Nine West.

**just a side note: when I first got here Nine West had a buy one get one FREE sale!!! As you can imagine I went to town on that. 

Splash/ Iconic is another winner. They are usually located in every mall and have a decent plus sized selection but it depends on the mall. This is one of those stores that when they have sales the items are so cheap.

Skirt from Splash. I also own it in pink. These skirts also come in handy for work.

    Last but not least is H &M. The one in Abu Dhabi Mall has a small plus sized section and the regular section goes up to 16 (although it is hard to find a 16 but 14 are everywhere) and XL. I find H & M good for sweaters and long sleeve tops for work.
 
    There a few other stores like Next, Dorothy Perkins, BHS and Evans that also sell plus sized clothes depending on the store size.

I will keep you posted if I find anything else. I love deals, but I also like to look good so I  am always on the lookout for fun stores with great deals. 

Hope that help, happy shopping! 

P.S today marks 7 months since I have been in the UAE *throws glitter*

Staycation Day 2

    I must say this staycation thing is not too bad. I went to Saadiyat Beach in Abu Dhabi yesterday.  Absolutely stunning.  Simply Beautiful. I will definitely be back a few times in the next few weeks. 

   Just a tip: if you go to Saadiyat Beach on the weekend get there by 10:30-11 am if you want a lounger and an umbrella. The beach can get crowded rather quickly on the weekends.


Breathtaking.

Later that night we went to one of my favorite restaurants in Abu Dhabi Cho Gao.   I had vegetable and tofu red curry. 


It was also ladies night. They have a list of about 10 drinks that are free all night from 9 pm-1 am. 

**Remember- alcoholic drinks can only be purchased at establishments attached to hotels. With the exemption of a fe liquor stores.

Monday I may be heading to Fujairah, another emirate to the east of Dubai. 

Have a great day! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Excellent Questions

One of my readers asked me these questions in Facebook and I thought they were relevant and I would love to shed light on a few of them. 

1.  What is the dating scene like?  How do you men single men? Is there an opportunity to date?

I have better chance meeting men here than I had in Montreal. I have met some really nice guys in Dubai where I find the selection of individuals a lot greater. Most of the people I meet in Abu Dhabi tend to be teachers, but when I go to Dubai I have met lawyers, business men, pilots, the possibilities are endless! 
 
    I have mostly meet men at the parties but I have met someone at brunch. I have been on dinners and lunches lunch dates.  But there are many 'date things' to do in the UAE such as go for walks on the Corniche (boardwalk), picnics and visiting the zoo. Since we are in the UAE you have to remember that public displays of affection are hugely frowned upon. I have seen a few people holding hands, but kissing in public is a huge no-no.

2. Are there Christian churches? How does it work since Friday is their day of rest?
 
There are Christian churches and they usually worship on Friday or Saturday.  Many of my friends choose to stream services from home on Sunday.

3.  What have been some of your most "fun" times?

-Color Run
-Jay Z concert
-brunches
-game nights with friends 
-going to the beach

Hope that helps! 

Staycation In Full Effect

   Today I drove out to Abu Dhabi to see my friend for the weekend.  You may recognise her from our December travels. She lives in a gorgeous high rise and has a pool (I am not jealous, no, no, not at all. Not...at...all). We spent the afternoon at the pool and then had dinner at Red Lobster (yes they have Red Lobster in the UAE! Gotta have the biscuits!) 

Putting the braids back in on Sunday. For now the fro is free.#teamnatural


I  am so jealous that she has a pool in her building (she is also with ADEC, she teaches grade 3) but I am thankful that I am her good friend so I can go over whenever I feel like it! 
    Tomorrow we head to the beach and then to Ladies Night at one of my favorite restaurants Cho Gao! 

P.S Laughed out loud when I heard 'shake it like a salt shaker' in one of the stores at the mall today. 

P.P.S One of my friend's saw Saccha Baron Cohen in Greece today on his Spring Break!  


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Making It Rain

     Hello my dear readers! I know I say this each post, but thank you so much for reading! Keep the comments coming. I live (and love) to hear them! Anything you would like to know ask me!

     I am not going to lie, the money I make here is good, really good, really, really good. This is the number one motivator keeping me in the country. There was one day that I was having such a bad day that I went and opened my payslip and everything was magically better. I make about twice as much as I did at home, don't have to do any extracurricular activities and it is not taxed.
       We get paid on the 25th of the month. If the 25th falls on a Friday then we get paid the day before. Our cell phones are linked to our bank accounts (actually your cell phone is linked to everything) and you get a text whenever you use your bank card. This comes in very handy to keep you in check when you are shopping because the amount you spent is displayed as well as your balance. Sometimes it can be a little annoying.  The same holds true about deposits. Trust me, on the 25th every teacher is waiting with baited breath for that text and when it come through ( this month it was at 9:15 am) I do a little dance, usually a combination of the running man and the Carleton dance.
       I thought you might be interested in what I do when I get paid. First thing is I pay for my car. I am renting a car for 6 months and that is my biggest expense I pay about 600$ Canadian a month for the car and insurance. I am at a remote school (about 100km/63 miles away) so I get a travel allowance of 425$ month so most of my car is covered. Gas is super cheap here running at 0.49$ a liter. Filling up the care doesn't cost. We also have a free van that takes us to school, so most days I do not drive.
    Next, I pay my bills. My cell phone runs me about 250$, that is a lot I know.  Communication is extremely important to me and I will pay whatever to stay in touch. Everyone has their weakness, some of my friends get their places cleaned by a maid once a month, some people have people to cook their food, others have every channel under the sun so they can watch American shows they love, my weakness is my phone.  
     I got an iPhone 5s in December on a one year plan that cost includes the cost of the phone as well as 9 gigs of data, 200 text messages and 800 calling minutes. Before you ask, yes I use 9 gigs a month, I told I have a problem.  Not only do I have a social media problem, some parts of my apartment do not pick up wireless ( my bedroom) so I have to use my data and not my wireless in these locations.  This brings me to TV and internet. I am not a big tv viewer and went with basic cable (it isn't too bad there are at least 4 movie channels that play all kids of movies, last weekend I watched Inception, Hairspray and Men In Black). I also have pretty fast internet. I also have access to a Nerflixs account that I watch on my iPad. That runs me about 150$. Electricity and water is super cheap I paid 35$ for two months! 
   After that is all said and done. I send about half of what I have left home. That can be anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending what I have to do that month (pay for vacation). I am currently working away at my debt and hopefully will have it all paid by September. I send my money home to my Canadian bank account through an institution called Al Ansari. It takes about three days for the money to get into my bank account and it costs about 20$ to send and 15$ on the receiving end taken out by my bank.
   I then do all the girly things that women love. I get a manicure and pedicure. I also get my eyebrows threaded.

      I also get my hair braided every two months. There is a salon owned by an Ethiopian woman and they do braids, weaves, perms, etc... I pay about 90$ to get my hair braided INCLUDING the hair. If they are not busy, two and even three women will be working on my hair at the same time. I have finished in as few as 3 hours.

   Of course I buy groceries and all that jazz. I pay no rent. I know that some of you are coming here so maybe this will help you make a budget. 

     Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Staycation

   Before I get to my post I just want to say I had 634 views yesterday!?    What!!!!???? I am sure that my blog is on a Facebook page/group cause every time I see a spike in readership that is the reason. No matter THANK YOU FOR READING! 

  I actually spoke to one of my readers who is preparing to apply with ADEC and it was such a great experience. I never thought of myself as a wealth of knowledge in terms of life in the UAE, but it seems as thought I am. She had a lot of questions and I think that I helped ease her fears. She had so many wonderful things to say about how the blog has helped eased her fears. Thank you, I never thought that the blog would help so many people heading to the UAE.  If you have any questions, feel free to write them in the comments and I will get to them as soon as possible. You can also email me at Haneefa underscore c at hotmail dot com if you have any questions or comments or just want to tell me how wonderful I am ;) .
      Last post I was in a bad place. I am much better now, but I have cancelled my trip to Sri Lanka.  Shocking I know.  Since last Thursday I have had a bad feeling about the trip. I have done my share of travelling and I have only felt this omninus sense once before when I was suppose to go away for the weekend and I didn't go.  I listen to my body and I trust my gut.  In this case I thought about it all weekend, hard, really hard. 

     Yesterday I decided I am not going. I am going to stay in Abu Dhabi for my vacation, much to all my friends' surprise. I am very close to my mother and often consult her. I told her how I felt, I explained that I had this nagging feeling about the trip, not so much travelling alone but going to  Sri Lanka itself. My mother's response; this is God's way of telling you not to go. I never go against my mother, even at 33. I contemplated going somewhere I would be more conform with like Thailand, but when I calculated how much I have already spent (and probably won't get back, I am working on it) another vacation is not in the cards.
     I had set aside spending money for the Sri Lanka trip and I will use that the next two weeks to explore Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I am going to do all the touristy things that I am never able to do because I am at work:  tour the Grand Mosque, go to the top if the burj Khalifah, go on a mini shopping spree.
    I am bummed, I even cried and if you know me the last time I cried was in 2010. But then I remembered HANEEFA,YOU ARE IN ABU DHABI! You are an hour away from Dubai! People pay big bucks to travel here. People honeymoon here, staying 'home' is not a punishment it is a gift. I am in Dubaaaaaiiiiii! Yolo! Turn up! Let go!!! The only kinda sad thing is so many of my friends are going away that I may have to do most of these things alone. No matter, I can do whatever I wanna do!!! Spa day, check! Sleep in, check! Watch Netflicks, check! Go to the beach for 8 hours, check!

The more I write the more I am loving the sound of this Staycation.

    This weekend I will head to the beach in Abu Dhabi , don't worry I'll post pictures.

Thanks for the support. 

Have a great week. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sad Today

     I miss my friends and my family. I miss having people I can call and not have to check what time it is at home so I do not wake them up. I love my new friends, but sometimes I feel like I am bothering them when I ask them to do stuff. I miss having  someone to go to the movies with, the mall.
  
    I leave for Sri Lanka on Friday for Spring Break. My friends either were going to a location that was too cold for my liking or had other plans. To be honest I don't wanna go. I am just not feeling like going anywhere right now. When you travel alone you have be hyper vigilant, no one is there to watch your back, you are in it alone.

    Travelling alone is an experience in itself and I  just not in the mood. Granted this trip with scaled back compared to December. I am only visiting one country, I will be in three cities and one of them is a beach resort. I need to relax, all I need is my book, a pool/beach and the sun.

    I am sure this feeling will pass, inshallah that happens soon. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Friday Brunch

  Friday Brunches are VERY popular in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Since my friends were still here we decided to check out 'Bubblelicious' at the Westin in Dubai.


I bought this romper at Forever21 in Dubai. I have always wanted a romper and jumped at this one when I tried it and it fit.  Nevertheless, I was still a little iffy about it. You know when you buy something alone and you are not sure if it is cute or ugly? Well that is how I felt about this. After wearing it for the day it appears that I made the right choice because I got plenty of compliments on my retro romper.

The brunch was a food lovers dream:


Delicious cupcakes.

Sushi and sashimi on a Japanese converter belt!


A seafood lover's dream.

Anything you could dream of they had: dim sum, Indian, Thai, BBQ, fish and chips, cheeses, pasta... The list is never ending!
  
All this to say if you are in Dubai or Abu Dhabi check out a Friday brunch. You will not be disappointed. 
I never get tired of the Dubai skylines.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Oman

     Last Thursday, my friends and I headed to Oman. Oman is a neighboring country to the UAE. The flight is a reasonable one hour to Oman's capital of Muscat and the flights are not expensive (75 us$ each way). Note: I found it cheaper to buy two one way tickets than a round trip ticket, weird but true.
    I had some issues at immigration, in my UAE visa picture I have my natural short hair and I am sporting some long braids right now, so the guy at the desk was confused and called over his supervisor. The supervisor gave him a look like that is the same person and I was on my way. #travellingwhileblack
    We stayed to the beautiful Crowne Plaza which had a stunning view.


After a few hours at the pool and enjoying a beautiful sunset, we headed to the Souq, aka traditional market.

Here I am at the Souq. There was so much to see and buy. I loved these lamps but didn't think I could carry them back to the UAE with my baggage allowance.

Here are a few things I purchased:
The flat things at the back are pillow covers and yes, those are Christmas ornaments in the front

     The next day we did a hop on hop off bus tour.

It was great there is a narration along the way that explains the locations as you pass them (my friends and I are convinced it must work on a GPS). My favorite stop was the Muscat Opera House.

Beautiful craftsmanship. It was only built in 2011 with marble imported from Vienna and wood from Burma. The walls are hand painted with gold and the whole building is stunning. I would live to come back and see a ballet it an opera here.


   Another great stop was the Marina. 

     Breathtaking. 

    None of the taxis in Oman have meters I found this interesting, so you always have to bargain the price.


       Love this picture by the beach.   

   Omani food is similar to most middle eastern dishes.
From the top left going clockwise we have: prawn masala, chicken masala, green salad, BBQ mutton, pita bread and hummus.

If you are living in the UAE and are looking for a quick weekend getaway head to Oman, you will not be disappointed! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Visit From Canada

     Last Saturday two of my friends from Canada came to visit me. These are the first guests I have had since I have been in the UAE, very exciting. I am so excited to show my friends from home the place that I now call home.

    We went to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. One word: STUNNING! 



   On Tuesday , my friends took the bus to Al Ain where I live. I took a day off and we went to Jebel Haffet, one of the highest mountains in the UAE.



     We then headed to the Al AIn Oasis; an extremely impressive oasis filled with palm plantations.


   
      Today we are headed to Oman! Fun times!