From Cape Town to Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Have you ever considered immigrating? Have you ever wondered how it would be to live in that new country? Or have you been confused about where to immigrate to?

In todays article our guest writer, Taybah, who is from Cape Town and now lives in Abu Dhabi takes us through her experience below. 

  1. What is your name? Taybah Jaffar
  1. What country were you born in? Cape Town, South Africa
  1. What job did you have in your home country? Teacher
  1. How long have you been living in your new country for? 5 Years in October InshaAllah
  1. Did you immigrate alone or with your family and kids? Met my husband here and got married back in Cape Town in 2018 Alhamdulilah.
  1. How are the schools in your new country?

Expat kids can only attend private schools. Schools are allowed to follow different curriculums ( Ministry, US, British, IEB).

  1. What is your job in your new country?

I am currently a grade 7 Science Teacher working for the Ministry of Education. I am based in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Alhamdulliah I have been at my school since I arrived in the country.

  1. What do you enjoy about your new country?

 The UAE is filled with people from all over the world. I have been lucky enough to work with people from Ireland, the USA, Jordan, India and of course with other South Africans. Learning about other cultures and traditions has been very interesting.

Living in the UAE has allowed me to be able to do some travelling as well. I have visited Turkey and the Seychelles. Travelling around the different emirates has definitely been a highlight as there is so much to see and do.

  1. What do you miss the most about your home country?

My family and friends. When coming here people said that over time is gets easier. From my experience it doesn’t. As much as I have built a life here, my heart will always be in Cape Town.

Also, winter! I really miss winter!!!

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

If you are contemplating immigrating, please make sure that its really what you want to do. Its not always an easy transition and you need to be open to learning and exploring. I came to the UAE with an open mind. I knew that it would be difficult but at the same time, I made sure to keep busy and to find good friends who were going through the same transition. And that’s definitely something I think is important. Finding good friends with similar interests. Its not easy being single, alone and away from family. But you have to be level headed, calm and above all, put your trust in Allah.

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

Financially, make sure that you have saved enough money so that you can be comfortable when you arrive. Particularly in the UAE, it can take about 2-3 weeks for your Residence Visa and Emirates ID to be processed. You will not be able to open a bank account without these documents, so make sure you have enough money.

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

I am sure that immigration in each country has similar procedures, it is very important that you remember to be patient and also that you are no longer in South Africa. Respect the country’s policies and procedures and don’t expect things to happen overnight.

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

As a teacher, I was hired through a recruitment agency. They took care of my entry visa and flight ticket. We were put up in a hotel in Abu dhabi for one week. During this week, we had to undergo a medical test which is part of the process to receiving a residency visa.

The residency visa and Emirates ID took about 2 weeks to process. After being in Abu Dhabi I was placed in Al Ain. My residency visa was issued through ADEC and Emirates ID could be collected at the Post Office.

The residency visa is valid for 3 years if you work for the government, 2 years for the private sector. Renewal is done online which is quick and simple. The medical test also needs to be done every time you renew. You go to a SEHA clinic and within 2 days you get your results.

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

This is always a hard question to answer. If you convert from dirhams to rands, it will be very expensive. As a new expat, I found myself doing the conversions a lot and it stopped me from doing the things I really wanted to. However, once you stop converting you will see that the cost of living is cheaper than back home.

One thing I love about the UAE is that there is such a big variety of food places. The high end restaurants are good for special occasions. But I suggest you find the unknown places, the ones the locals love. The food will be cheaper and so good!

You must remember that once you start earning in your new currency, that’s the currency you spending in. Make sure that you work on a budget each month. Put money aside for savings, sending money home, expenses, entertainment etc.

  1. 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 to a new country is an exciting and challenging experience. If you have the support of your family and you know this is truly what you want, then go for it. Moving to the UAE was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. I had never been away from home. But Alhamdulllilah, it has shown me strengths I never knew I had. And has given me some of the best experiences of my life. I have made life long friends who have become my family away from home.

Take a chance, remember, home is always going to be there. But who knows, you may just find your second home that you will love just as much.

This is going to be an on going series. If you would like to be part of this series you may contact us through this contact form or DM us on Instagram @halaal_travels.

Al Nabagh desert