x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Ask Ali: Job offer pay and the right gown for a gala

Our cultural columnist on negotiating an employment contract, appropriate attire at a gala event, and tourist attractions in Umm al Quwain.

Dear Ali: I'm in the middle of negotiations with a potential employer in the Emirates and I'm not sure whether the deal being offered is the best I can get. What do you suggest? MM, France

Dear MM: It's definitely a crucial time in someone's life weighing up job options, especially if the position is with an employer overseas. Let me offer a few tips to help you decide.

Trying to find out if your salary in the Emirates is competitive is undoubtedly difficult. You don't want to ruin your chances of a job by asking for more than what the job offers but, on the other hand, on so many occasions, people have been really disillusioned when they discover they have accepted a lower salary than the ones offered to their colleagues on the same level. So firstly, ensure you are not selling yourself short. Ask as many questions as possible and obtain as much information as you can, perhaps by contacting people who work in the field, or for a similar company.

The more pertinent questions you ask and to as many people as you can, the better the picture you will get of whether or not this is the job for you.

Don't forget to ensure that everything that is verbally agreed at interview is put in writing, in your contract. I wish you a successful interview.


Dear Ali: I'm going to a gala event in an evening gown, with bare shoulders. Would wearing a shawl over my shoulders be acceptable attire? RG, Dubai

Dear RG: If there are only Westerners around, you will be fine with bare shoulders as long as you ensure that you properly cover up when going to and from the event. If it is an event with both male and female guests and some of them are expected to be Arabs and/or Muslims, I would suggest a bit more modesty, and recommend you choose an outfit that covers your shoulders and knees.

Of course, I am aware that we see pictures in glossy magazines of guests at a function wearing outfits that could not be described as modest. However, as this is a gala event - either an official or semi-official event - I would suggest a more conservative form of attire to avoid offending other guests.

As for other venues, clubs and bars are different. We tolerate them, since we know it makes expat residents and guests to our country happy. However, these are not places for Muslims to hang out. Therefore, the dress codes on these occasions can be a bit more flexible.


Dear Ali: What would be the best tour for someone planning a trip to Umm Al Quwain? HG, Al Ain

Dear HG: You could visit Al Dur, one of the first settlements, dating back to 200BC. Some of the old watchtowers are worth seeing, and along the coastline you would come across the sabkha, a flat, salty area that is quite spectacular. The Museum of Umm Al Quwain can be found in an old fort in the centre of the city and showcases the history of the area, and its shipbuilding and seafaring heritage. If you wish to venture a bit farther towards Ras Al Khaimah, you will find the Dreamland Aqua Park, one of the largest water entertainment resorts in the region. Since it might be a long drive to and from the emirate, you may want to stay overnight somewhere, such as the Flamingo Beach Resort, located at the town's lagoon. If you stay at this hotel, you can literally catch your own dinner - the crab-hunting programmes are one of the things the resort is well known for.


Language Lesson

Arabic: Allah yaateek

English: May God give you

This is said when someone asks you for money and you don't have any change. So it means "I won't or can't give to you but God will". It also makes it easy for beggars to simply move on

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50.