Najet Mosbah moved to Abu Dhabi almost two decades ago from Tunisia. Her home is a cosy, comfortable and serene apartment near the Corniche. To me, home is where the heart is; it is where I was raised, went to school, made my friends and where my family members are. It is Tunisia. Sometimes I have a yearning for Morocco, for all the warm moments I used to spend during my summer holidays. Although I will soon have lived twenty years in Abu Dhabi, I still feel very attached to my country and tightly held to my roots, like an olive tree: the older it is, the stronger. However, when the day finally comes for me to leave the UAE, I am quite sure I will miss it and will look forward to visiting it again.
I was born in Morocco and first moved to Tunisia with my family when I was only six months old. My father is Tunisian and my mother Moroccan so I consider myself Moroccan by birth and Tunisian by upbringing and nationality. I spent all my childhood in my hometown of Sousse, I studied in the US and UK, returned home, and graduated from the University of Tunis followed by five years teaching English. I came to Abu Dhabi under a contract arranged by the Tunisian and UAE ministries of education.
There has surely been a change in my character and my reactions. When I first landed at Abu Dhabi International Airport I was hit by the extremely hot and humid August air. I had never experienced anything like that in my life and my heart sank, thinking that I would not live in this country for very long. But with time I became more tolerant of the summer heat. For the past eight years, I have been living in a nice apartment building located in the centre of Abu Dhabi near the old souq and not far from the Corniche. As my first job in Total ABK consisted of furnishing the company apartments, I was able to learn a lot from different nationalities and their taste in furniture and decoration. Eventually, I decorated my flat with a combination of modern furniture, rustic cabinets and ethnic frames and vases, some purchased in the UAE and others brought from countries I have travelled to such as Iran, Uzbekistan, Brunei, Malaysia, France, and of course, some silver decorative items from Tunisia and Morocco. I am a homely kind of person and it is very important to me that I feel home away from home, so the overall atmosphere in my flat is cosy, comfortable and serene.
The most pleasant surprise in the UAE, particularly in Abu Dhabi, was to see many trees and gardens in a desert region. I have never seen so many nationalities living in harmony in one place, which encouraged me to adjust to my new life and enriched me culturally. On a daily basis, I have never had an easier life. The multiple services rendered to all the residents in the UAE are abundant. Free home delivery from supermarkets, dry cleaning and restaurants, this makes me feel I am waited on and truly makes my life as a single female smooth and comfortable. In order to stay connected to my roots, I tend to socialise with my fellow nationals; we usually cook our national dishes and stay open to other nationalities as well.
I generally spend my holidays at my parents' house, mostly because I want to be with them and also to make up for the times I am away from home. Occasionally, I stay in my studio located at a tourist resort in Sousse but I always manage to have my family members, especially my parents, spend the day with me. Generally, I miss my family and not being able to witness the growth of my nephews and nieces. I keep close contact with them. At times, especially in spring, I miss my country's beautiful weather and gorgeous colours, the typical Tunisian white façades of houses, the green of the trees and the turquoise blue of the sky and sea. Luckily this autumn, I was there for two weeks when the weather was splendid, so I found nothing better than visiting interesting suburbs of Tunis such as Carthage and Sidi Bou Said.
I am not afraid of making a change in my steady life. Moving to another country is an opportunity to see things from a different angle and to adapt to a different routine. A motto I have always believed is that "variety is the spice of life". I get excited about trying different dishes, speaking a different language, observing the habits and traditions of different societies. At the end of the day, it is clear that as human beings we carry within us similar feelings and emotions; only the wrapping is different.