x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Setting up two homes halves stress

Yasmin Dahleh has taken to splitting her time between Dubai and Abu Dhabi because of the pain of commuting.

ABU DHABI // Yasmin Dahleh buys two of everything.

If she finds a suit she likes or shoes that are appropriate for work, or shirts that are suitable for the office and don't need pressing, Ms Dahleh, 30, buys two.

The same with toiletries: two toothbrushes, two tubes of toothpaste and two bottles of cologne.

"I feel like I have two homes," the Jordanian national said.

"Half of my stuff is at my home in Dubai and the other half is in Abu Dhabi, wherever I happen to be staying. That's not counting the entire wardrobe of work-appropriate clothes I have in the back seat of my car."

Ms Dahleh, a project and IT consultant, recently began work on a project in Abu Dhabi, which demanded that she commute daily from her apartment in Dubai Marina.

"At first I thought the drive would be no big deal," she said. "Hundreds of people do it daily, especially considering how much cheaper rent is in Dubai."

For the first month, Ms Dahleh would set out at 7am to ensure she was in the office by 8.30.

"I could never guarantee I would get to work on time because sometimes there is more traffic than usual, or an accident would bring traffic to a standstill," she said.

Despite trying to break the monotony of the daily drive with music and a travel mug of coffee, the commute never felt easy. Driving in her restrictive suits and work attire added to the discomfort.

"My lower back started hurting me after just one week of the commute," Ms Dahleh said.

Slipping off her high heels and driving in sandals made little difference. She began stopping on her commute to stretch at a petrol station and exercise her stiff back and shoulders.

"I began to spend a night or two a week in Abu Dhabi, at a friend's place or in a hotel, because my back would hurt too much for me to head back to Dubai."

And although that provided some relief, Ms Dahleh said sleeping on different mattresses and using different pillows made things worse.

She began to book massages once or twice a month for her lower back.

"The massages helped, and I adjusted my seat in the car to the most comfortable position and experimented with having a small cushion behind me when I drive," she said.

"I think it's a combination of sitting at a desk all day, which makes my arms and shoulders ache, together with being in a car for a minimum of three hours a day. Too much for me, really."

Now Ms Dahleh spends most of her week in Abu Dhabi and heads to Dubai on Thursday for the weekend.

"I miss my friends and home in Dubai during the week, but this way it's much easier on my back," she said.