From Cairo to the UAE


What is your name?

Marwa El-Agroudy


What country were you born in?

I was born in Cairo – Egypt


What job did you have in your home country? 

I was an Assistant Lecturer at the German University in Cairo GUC. I used to teach statistics and operation research for management students


How long have you been living in your new country for?

It has been almost a year since I moved to UAE


Did you immigrate alone or with your family and kids?

I would not really call it immigration, but I moved to UAE to be with my husband after we got married last year. Living in a country like UAE, or any other within the Gulf, is not forever. It is always temporary as expats are not usually given any status for working a certain number of years unlike countries like the UK or Canada for example.


How are the schools in the new country?

Not that I have any experience in that regard but from what I hear from friends of mine who have been living here before me, schooling is not that exceptional despite being quite expensive!


What is your job in your new country?

I moved to Kuwait in 2015 where I worked and lived for 4 years. I was still single back then and moved there alone. I used to work as a Teaching Assistant at the American University of the Middle East AUM. I was still teaching statistics, but it was for engineering students.


I got married a year ago and left Kuwait to join my husband in UAE where he works. I was blissed by the timing of leaving Kuwait because work was becoming unbearable! I was burnt out afterwards and decided to take a break from academia, so I am currently a stay-home-wife until I feel the urge to join a working force


What do you enjoy about your new country?

Unlike Kuwait, UAE has a diverse geography that offers a lot of activities with something for everyone. My husband and I like to dive and camp and in UAE we can easily do both and enjoy the diversity of the landscape. In Kuwait expats were not allowed to camp in the desert unless accompanied by Kuwaitis which is not the case here in UAE! So being able to drive through the desert, camp under the stars, and enjoy such beauty is liberating in a way! In addition to having quite an impressive shopping and dining scene, it is also great to be able to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors and this is one of the things I like the most about this country. UAE is also very safe and that makes it very comforting to live here


What do you miss the most about your home country?

What not to miss? I used to live in the vibrant city of Cairo which has tons to offer from food to culture and history. I miss diving in the Red Sea, hiking in South Sinai, camping in Siwa Oasis, eating mangoes in the summer, and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean! While I can still get Egyptian food here, it never tastes the same as it does back home. What I miss the most though are my family and friends whom I do not get to see as often specially now with all the travel restrictions due to COVID-19


What advice would you give someone that is contemplating to immigrate to the country you have immigrated to?

To be sure that they are moving here for the right reasons. For example, if the objective is to have some money saved at the end of the time spent here then they need to consider their income and living expenses to see if it will be worthwhile or not. UAE has high living standards and maintaining such a level depends on the income! Getting used to living comfortably here within a safe and secured comfort zone can also be problematic if the move is just transitional which is always the case! It is important to make the best out of it depending on everyone’s personal preferences and objectives.


What challenges, if any, would you advise them to anticipate based on your experiences when you first moved to your new country?

Issuing a driving license can be challenging because this is where the colour of someone’s passport will intervene in the process! Housing can also be a little problematic because the rent is not that cheap in UAE and that forces some people to share accommodation with others


What advice would you give them to overcome those challenges based on how you overcame them?

One needs to be patient because moving to a new country and starting from scratch can be intimidating. Things can go smoothly but they are often not, we can’t really have everything the way we always wanted, right? At the same time, you can be surprised at how strangers are willing to give you a hand. So just be patient and have an open mind about the challenges that rise with such a decision. It is also crucial to be doing so for the right reasons! So, considering the motive to move to another country is quite important.


How was the visa process for immigrating to your new country?

In UAE expats who move here are given a residency that is sponsored by their workplace! It gets renewed every two years and is cancelled if someone is leaving the country for good. In my case obtaining my residency was quite smooth as everything was handled by my husband’s work since he was sponsoring me. The duration of the visa process differs from one person to the other and there is no clear way to know how long it can exactly take.


How is the cost of living in the new country compared to your home country?

Living in UAE is costly and more expensive than Egypt especially when it comes to rent and services! I do not notice a huge difference in the prices of basic groceries but again, there are always offers in almost all supermarkets. Shopping for clothes and such products can be expensive but during sale time it can be a lot better than Egypt.



Anything else you would like to add, or any advice you would like to give to anyone that is contemplating moving to your new country?

Moving abroad can be overwhelming and scary but it can also be extremely rewarding. You might feel lonely missing your family and friends but there will be an opportunity for you to meet new people and make new friends. Moving to Kuwait got me out of my comfort zone, I embraced the process and I am incredibly grateful for what it made out of me. It allowed me to travel more and make friends all around the world. In doing more of what I love, that is to travel and explore, I ended up meeting my significant other and now we are happily together in UAE for almost a year. It was not always sunshine and rainbows during my time in Kuwait but amidst the tough times I went through, there were also good ones that I will cherish forever. We, as humans, usually fear the unknow but it can, sometimes, surprise us with what we have always dreamt of. It might be difficult, but it may not hurt to try. One must examine the situation and decide according to what is in his/her best interest while having patience and an open mind and heart. You never know what God has in store for you.

Expat 1

You can connect with Marwa on Instagram and follow her journey living in the UAE by clicking here.