Just what makes Al Ain residents outlast the extreme heat of the city and, for expatriates, the unhappiness of being away from their loved ones back home? Al Ain Times went to find out.
“Al Ain is a big, little city. You know, it’s a city of its own standards, but compared to Dubai and to other cities of the world, it still has to grow. But it is very beautiful. The people here are very friendly, warm and receptive,” said Michael Heindel, Chief Executive Officer of Tawam Hospital, who has been living in the city for almost three months.
Dubai resident Nidal Abou Zaki agrees. “I like the atmosphere here in Al Ain. It’s very green and quite relaxing. The climate is very dry and not humid…the place is also filled with history. Al Ain is, indeed, unique in all elements. When people hear of Al Ain, they think of resorts and beaches where they could relax and enjoy.” As a Managing Director of Orient pearl, Zaki goes to Al Ain only whenever he has business transactions here.
The inexpensive lifestyle here in Al Ain makes it an ideal dwelling place also. “The cost of living here is cheaper as compared with the other emirates,” commented Rose Dreu, a hospital employee and an Al Ain resident for six years. She also pointed out the opportunities Al Ain can offer. Working in Dubai for almost four years, Dreu moved to Al Ain for a promise of a better job, better working environment and better salary. “I prefer living here. My friends and colleagues from Saudi were also here and that makes me more comfortable with the place.”
But as always, there are two sides of a coin. Not everything in Al Ain is good, at least, as far as our respondents are concerned. “Some people here do not live for today. They instead live for tomorrow. They are always dreaming about their lives. They do not live in reality,” said Miriana Lazaroba, a schoolteacher who resides in Al Ain for 15 years. “But I still like Al Ain because this is where I lived. I like my friends and my lovely pupils who are also living here.”
Hospital employee and Al Ain resident for 16 years Lynn Petrie shares her frustration on the lack of good shops, good parks and good amount of information about the city. “Al Ain’s a nice place to be but it needs more shops, shoe stores, clothe boutiques and book stores. It will also be nice to have a music shop and an electronic store. I also wish to have a park that really has something in it. More information about the city is also needed. Big newspapers do not contain useful information about Al Ain. I have visitors coming over but I cannot tell them much about Al Ain because I myself do not know much about it.”
Public Relations Account Executive Rendala Majdalani of Orient Pearl also complains the same thing. “The city is familiar and friendly to me. [But] There’s nothing much to do here. It’s a good place for people with families but it’s not ideal for single persons like me.”
There are other problems existing in almost every corner of the city such as the rising costs of houses and the traffic one experiences when one travels to and fro the city. Ironically, two-year old resident Praseeta Prakash does not notice it much. “I am always working and I cannot really see around.” Working overtime also hinders Mujeebrahman Rakman, a fish vendor, from touring the city no matter how much he likes it. “I am oftentimes tasked to worked passed my 8-hour shift. I don’t like that.” Syed Eliyaz, a salesman, has the same concern. “We have no holidays and offs. And we’re only given DH600!”
Another work-related problem involves the attitude of some Al Ain workers. “Some of my co-employees do not show their love for work and are lazy instead. All they care are the personal gains they would get from the hospital,” said Dreu. “Before, I used to mind them. But now, I just tell myself to be thankful that I still have a job and I still can do it.”