I’ve got news and you get to decide which category you want to put it in.
See, if you live in Dubai, then you’ll consider that we’re moving to be bad news. If you live in Dallas though, then you’ll think it’s pretty good news, because that’s where we’re headed InshaAllah. It is official. I am trading my yalla for a y’all, and that is news.
I am tentatively excited, reservedly optimistic, and trepidatiously wary of how green the grass on the other side of autism services will or won’t be. We’ve had an equal measure of people telling us that Texas is the worst place for autism services, or the best place for autism services, but it all boils down to this: Texas is a place where autism services in mainstream schools exists, and Dubai is not.
Sorry Dubai. I really am. Sorry for every date palm, every ladies-only beach, every niqab-friendly ice-cream bar, mall prayer room, and halal international chain restaurant I leave behind. Goodbye five-star hotel buffet dates with husband, hello tuna sandwiches and veggie patties, and packing our own PB&J for the road.
Goodbye beautiful domed masajid on every corner, and the ability to travel without planning the entire day around where one can (and overwhelmingly can’t) do wudu in public and then pray in secret so people don’t freak out and call in the national guard.
I’m not ‘Murica bashing, I promise. But there is a certain effortlessness in practicing Islam in a country full of masjids, regardless of whether they stand within a block of a nightclub or not. I can – and d0! – go everywhere in an abaya and I am appropriately dressed every single time. At the beach, to a wedding, speaking in a conference or the board room- me and my abayas go everywhere without getting second glances or side-eye. I will miss that.
Dubai is not perfect. No place in the world is, but it is comfortable and safe, and for the last ten years it’s been our home. I was married here. My children were born here. My parents and all but one sibling live here. We have a happy slew of well-loved cousins who will be terribly missed. I have a circle of friends who feed me, entertain my children and my neurosis while reminding me of Allah every time we meet over coffee, lunch, and more coffee. It is a beautiful bond, and one not easily replaced.
I started my first company here and found my voice and my professional confidence in a culture where the way I dress has never been an issue. I have stood side-by-side with women in pencil skirts, stilettos, and fascinators and not felt any bit of self-consciousness or otherness.
Where I once shied away from public scrutiny, I learned here how to stand in the limelight and own it, from the bottom of my sneakers to the top of my sheila.
I will miss Dubai, but I am going to Dallas willingly because somewhere in the great, wide world of IEPs and Special Education services, we’re looking for whatever it is that Khalid needs to grow as a functional, independent little man. Dallas may not be our place in this world, but we’re going there so Khalid can, InshaAllah, find his.
So swap my basboosa for a brisket and call me Texan. We’ve got 13 weeks left in the UAE and we’re packing, sorting, and selling off whatever doesn’t fit into our luggage allowance.