Imagine this. You’re moving from Perth to Dubai. You’ve sold most of your belongings. You’ve packed up half the house. You’ve made arrangements at your job. It gets cancelled at the last moment. It happened to Hassan and me. Let me share with you the story in which I got to experience first-hand what discrimination really means.
Before I go into further detail, let me give you an overview on what has happened. Hassan was getting transferred from the Perth office to Dubai for 6 months (it’s the same company) and we’ve been preparing paper work for the last 4 months. We didn’t want to leave Australia before getting our Permanent Residency approved (once you’ve reached this ‘status’, you’ve got pretty much the same rights as citizens). This was important to us, because it means that we can always come back. For a multi-cultural couple like ourselves (Him Lebanese, I Dutch), it’s necessary to have a country ‘in common’, keeping the future in mind. Our Permanent Residency got approved back in August, after which the Dubai office proceeded with getting Hassan’s work visa organized. Shouldn’t be too complicated for a highly educated (he’s a Geo-technical engineer) guy you would say? So we thought. Well, big wake-up call right there. I think when you grow up in a western country, whether that’s Europe, the US or Australia; you’re used on a system with constructive rules for everything. Really, it takes me quite some effort to not make this article a big rant (that’s probably why I waited a week after the news hit us to write this), but I’d like to say this from the bottom of my heart first: I’m proudly from the Netherlands and I proudly call Australia my home.
Now I know what you’re thinking, if you haven’t got your work visa approved yet, why do you start selling your belongings and pack up the house? I’ll tell ya. If you get the Dubai work visa granted (at least the kind Hassan’s company applied for), you’ve only got two weeks to actually make your way there. So I’m sure you understand why we had no choice but getting as much prepared as we could, because once the visa would come through, there would be very little time left to leave to what was supposed to be our new home.
So Hassan’s visa got refused, tree times to be precise. For Security reasons that is. And mind you, he’s got zero criminal history. It sadly turned out that the UAE refuses visa for Lebanese citizens for diplomatic reasons due to the political situation in the middle east at this stage. Even though a country’s national jurisdiction needs to be respected, I’m speechless by the fact that no research seems to be done on the individual person applying for the visa. After all, Hassan’s only purpose for coming to UAE is to work on projects that would only benefit the country.
I find it unbelievable and I’m in rage, but most of all I feel hurt because I see someone that I love being discriminated and limited in pursuing his career for who he is and where he’s from. Despite the fact that he has lived in France for 8 years and almost 3 in Australia, he told me that discrimination never really hit him until now. We were both really looking forward to move to Dubai, for different reasons. One of them is to be closer to our families, who we haven’t seen for over a year. Second of all, we’ve been finding life hard in Perth. I know, I know, my sun, ocean & beach photos tell you otherwise, but really, it isn’t easy here as a foreigner. It’s literally the most isolated city in the world (according to Wikipedia, at least) and that’s probably also a great a way to describe how I feel here sometimes: isolated.
Any way. Faith, coincidence, or bureaucracy; whatever you’d like to call it has decided that we’re not going anywhere for now. I think unconsciously I’ve been living my life here in Perth in a way of “Ill be here temporary, so I’ll not make too much effort”. It suddenly hit me when I was watching an interview with Oprah, which I landed on while browsing the net for some cheer-me-up words. She said something like, “I was in Baltimore for years, but I refused to even learn the street names, because I thought I was just going to be there for a little while”. This is by the way also the most important piece of advice I could give to anyone moving abroad, even if it’s temporary: live as you’ll be there forever. I think it’s about time that I’ll start living according to my own advice.
I’m a city girl, I love the buzz of a big city, crowded streets, the kind of place where you just feel the energy in the air. OK, let’s go to New York shall we? Look. This is what I do all the time. I’m living somewhere else in mind my mind constantly. Always dreaming, never really living. All I can say for now is that there are worst places to be in the world and with Australian summer just around the corner (it’s 33 degrees while I write this), there really isn’t much to complain about.
The aftermath of the we-are-not-going-to-dubai-and-i-just-chucked-half-of-my-life-in-the-bin isn’t easy though. Most boxes are still standing in my room packed, my closet is almost empty and my professional life has to be re-defined as well. But you know what? I feel more motivated than ever. I don’t want to allow life to knock me down, making me miserable and unhappy. I just won’t allow it. Not any more.
I want to finish by saying thank you so much for the supportive and kind comments you always leave when I post personal articles. It really means the world for me and I couldn’t think of anything that could cheer me up more, especially in difficult times.