From my heart to each grain of your desert sand, born and raised but not citizened, and as I prepare to depart the United Arab Emirates I called home for more than 35 years, I find my keyboard chocking on the words that my mind is instructing it to type.
Words that I learned along with taking my first ever steps into my life journey on your welcoming grounds, words that I learned to read, write and sing to the beat of your fireworks; ones that lit up my life with hope, love, ambition and a sense of belonging. A feeling I always knew I would one day want to pass through to my children.
Strolling through your streets, there’s a memory peeking out from every corner. In Abu Dhabi is where I was bullied as a kid and toughened up as a teenager. Sharjah is where I moved when I lost my father, but it is also where I got married. Ajman is where I miraculously graduated from university after spending crazy sleepless nights at my best friends place. In Dubai is where I was fired from my first ever job, but it is also where my career then thrived as I had always imagined. Across the UAE is where I lived, I grew up, listened to all my favorite songs, made irreplaceable friendships and lost some along the way. In the UAE is where I existed and yes it defines me.
But then I grew up, and the dreaminess of my existence here slowly started to disintegrate, and I slowly fathomed that to follow your example of excellence, I have to push boundaries and create opportunities for myself, for my family. And in the story of my life, the boundaries I have to push are those of your sheltering borders.
I’m leaving my UAE, but I’m leaving behind a lot of me. I’m leaving my memories because they are mountain long and luggage allowance is only limited. I’m leaving the heart beats of 35 years, and I’m leaving the remains of my father’s beloved body as it merges overtime to unite with your soil, with your sand, with your heart. But I’m leaving still! And I will miss you indefinitely.
Was it easy you ask? No, it’s been an excruciating mayhem of conflicting thoughts, battling me into many insomniac and tearful nights. I will not deny you how much you’ve given me, but I too gave you my all. And as I thank you for all you have done, I’m sure it is your wish to thank me in return for how much I loved you, for the plenty I achieved here and for always solidly representing your beautiful being.
I’m Rania Al Khadra by the way, AKA the expat, also known as the UAE kid (anywhere outside of the UAE). I was born out of your sand grains and not yet broken grounds. I have witnessed the change and really lived the UAE experience. And as I stare out my window, I am proud to have witnessed the magic that you have created, I’m thankful for the opportunities I had, and I wouldn’t change a thing!
My adored UAE, this is my official notice period.
Rania, soon to be out!
P.S Canada, I love you already
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