In a lyric from Disney’s Aladdin you might recall Robin Williams as the genie singing, “We pride ourselves on service.” As trite as that may sound, that is exactly what kept running through my head as people tried to help me do everything! I had to get used to people calling me Madame everywhere I went. There is a huge population of service here.
Many people have hired help in the form of maids, nannies, and drivers. The service industry comprises mostly of Filipinos. They are very polite and seem to enjoy working in Abu Dhabi. This took a lot of getting used to for me. We do hire help in the states such as housekeepers and lawn care quite frequently. However here, the help is imbedded in the family. Every home has separate quarters for the help with at least a maid’s room and adjoining bathroom.
Restrooms in malls and restaurants have attendants running in the minute you leave the stall to clean up after your visit. Some stand by to offer you towels or anything you might need. I often felt like I need to apologize and assure them I did not soil their very clean restrooms. I could accept that a fancy restaurant would want that type of service, but a mall has heavy traffic, so it takes some getting used to.
Women advertise on Facebook when they are leaving the country to place their nannies or maids with other families. The ads usually are glowing testimonials of how they could never have managed life without their maids. If the family stays in the middle East these maids often move with them. Many wear uniforms like scrubs as they move about the community with people’s children.
You can’t really be a “No Helpian” if you come to the UAE. These people depend on us expats to make a living. I just do my best to tip well. Unfortunately, tipping is a bit of a Western habit as well. However, I will save that for another post.
If you are going to expat in the UAE, you might as well get used to the idea that there is a whole service industry set up to make your life easier at very little cost. Hopefully, you can find ways to adapt to this as expats will not change the economy here. You can be generous with your tips and what you choose to pay your help.
Once again, thank you for joining us on our adventure as we expat in Abu Dhabi!