Dear Ali: I have recently been invited by an Emirati man to a dinner at his majlis. We are new to the UAE and my wife is fascinated by your culture. Is it safe to assume that I can bring her to this dinner? PK, Dubai
Dear PK: Generally, majlis gatherings are restricted to people from the same gender. So if it is a men's majlis, then unfortunately your wife will not be able to tag along and she would probably feel uncomfortable being the only woman there.
What I suggest is, if your host is married or perhaps living in his parents' house, to ask him if his wife, mother or sister would host your wife at their majlis. That way she would be able to enjoy their company, learn about our culture and truly experience our Emirati hospitality.
We never say no to people who would like to visit, so it won't hurt for you to ask him. If anything, he will be happy to introduce your wife to his female relatives. And if he says no and that the invitation is just for you because he is inviting only other men, then please do not take it personally.
Dear Ali: I'm Muslim and looking to move to a Muslim country. What is the best way to find a job in the UAE and what do companies look for in prospective employees? YK, Australia
Dear YK: The fastest way to find a job is by word of mouth. Let people know you are searching for a job and don't depend a lot on postings, unless you have a unique degree or skills and a company is specifically looking for someone in your field. As I always say, the best way to find or get a job in the UAE is to first build relationships. If you already have some Emirati friends, ask them to introduce you to some people they know at local companies and organisations that would consider offering you an interview, then take it from there. The main point is to arrange face-to-face meetings, which are much more powerful than just sending your application online. When you submit your CV to a company in person you can also arrange an interview.
As in most countries, what is important to employers is your appearance, your values and point of view on certain subjects, how you respond when you are asked certain questions and how you are perceived. A good HR department will be able to determine a lot from your first meeting. But first of all, take the time to study the market so you will know where to apply and whom to contact.
Dear Ali: When a Muslim man marries two or more wives, is he required to follow the same procedures that he went through for his first wedding and throw a lavish party every time he marries a new woman? HM, Germany
Dear HM: A Muslim man can marry up to four wives if he has valid reasons and can support and treat his wives equally, but multiple marriages here in the UAE are the exception, not the norm. The formal ceremony for subsequent marriages is exactly the same: signing the contract in the presence of a religious leader and witnesses.
Parties are at the discretion of the couple, but usually second marriages aren't celebrated as much as the first. Sharia differentiates between the sexes by stating that a man can be married simultaneously to up to four wives whereas a woman can be married to only one husband at a time.
A helpful phrase to use when stopping by the HR department of a company you'd like to work for is "Ana adawer ala wadheefa", which means "I am looking for a job".