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Ruba Abed-Hameed Bdour, a pharmacist in Dubai, eats nearly all her meals at home.
Randi Sokoloff Staff
Ruba Abed-Hameed Bdour, a pharmacist in Dubai, eats nearly all her meals at home.

'It's difficult to say how often I go to the mall'

Pharmacy manager admits her greatest indulgence is clothing.

I moved to Dubai from Jordan three years ago in pursuit of a better life. So far, I can say that I have a better life than in Amman, but it's not as good as I would like it to be. I would like to improve my financial situation more and also be able to afford a better quality of life so that I can enjoy a better social life. Currently, I work at Ghazal Jumeirah pharmacy in Satwa. We're part of the larger Al Iman Group, but each pharmacy operates as an independent unit.

I'm very fortunate to have a relatively stress-free job as I also enjoy flexibility and relative freedom. My work timings are from 9am to 1.30pm, and from 5pm to 8.30pm. I take Fridays off. I'm the manager of the pharmacy and have a staff of four men. We're a good team and also quite lucky to be located in the busy Satwa district - very close to two medical clinics - so we're always serving customers.

As we are located next to clinics, we rarely have customers come to us without a prescription. Staff members at our pharmacy get a good discount on medication. It can be useful, but I prefer not to fall sick just because we have a cheap price. As I'm single, I make sure that I try and eat at home as much as possible. More than the economics, I feel it's healthier and more hygienic. I have control over what goes into my food. I'm not a regular weekly shopper as I like my vegetables and meat to be fresh, I go daily. On a monthly basis I would say that my grocery expense is between Dh2,000 and Dh3,000. Most of my meals are at home as I have a long lunch break and end up going home.

I cook Arabic food and my favourite is the Jordanian dish, Mansaf, which is a mix of meat, dried yoghurt and rice. I live on Al Wasl Road, in Jumeirah 3. It's a lovely two -bedroom apartment and in terms of rent is quite steep. I pay Dh10,000 every month. But, I have lots of extended family from Jordan and the US, who visit regularly. They stay with me instead of a hotel and pitch in with the rent and other home-related expenses.

I've recently bought a new car - a 2009 Nissan Altima. My outgoings on the car loan every month is Dh2,000 per month and a monthly petrol fill-up costs about Dh500. I do go out on weekends with friends but rarely drive when in a group. I think a big amount of my money goes in paying traffic fines. I don't consider myself a bad driver, but have found some fines in the system that couldn't possibly belong to me.

Apparently mistakes happen, but I have to pay them off first before I can dispute them. On an average I'd say about Dh300 every month is spent on paying fines. I'm making a more conscious effort to drive better because of the black point system. Gaining black points scares me more than losing money. Although I work in Satwa I don't have a problem finding parking. I know the streets quite well and have also discovered a free car park, which I prefer not to be made public.

Living in Dubai I think has made it a bit difficult to be more prudent in spending. I enjoy shopping and with the number of malls and brands available, it's difficult not to get carried away. I like to spend money on clothes, shoes and bags - I think most women do. I also find that it's a characteristic that is typical of Arab women, maybe varying in degree from one culture to another. I visit the salon two or three times a month and each time I get my hair and nails done. A single visit will cost me Dh200. My greatest indulgence is clothes and accessories.

It's difficult to say how often I go to the mall. Maybe once or twice a week - more if I have friends or relatives in town. If I like a dress and if I had to economise to buy it, I would. In total I own 25 pairs of shoes, 12 bags and lots of dresses. However they are accumulated over a period of time and not in the past three years alone. Also, some of my expensive bags are gifts. I have a weakness for high heels especially Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, but now have been told not to wear them often as I have a back problem.

I would not starve for fashion, but I would eat more at home and socialise less so that I can meet the expenses. Where would I draw the line for personal indulgences? I would never take a bank loan to fulfil my extravagances. I'd rather take a loan to buy a home, which is not something I've been able to do, so there's definitely room for financial improvement. I don't think it will in the immediate future, but I'm thankful that I have a job and quite content for now. * As told to Vinita Bharadwaj

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