Almost 14 years ago, when I first arrived in Dubai, I recall references being made to ‘Jumeira Jane’. In my greenness, I thought this was the name of a local brand of something: perhaps clothes, shoes, beachwear….which originated by the serene coastline of Dubai known as Jumeira. As I became more enmeshed in expat life it became clear that the term or ‘JJ’ for short was actually a term bestowed upon expat-kept wives or stay-at-home mums (who did not need or wish to work) whose husbands’ professions had dictated they be sent to the ‘hardship posting’ of the desert sands, as the UAE was once considered. Fussed over by household staff, these ladies did not have to lift a finger (unless the manicurist asked them to at their weekly mani/pedi appointment), had drivers on standby and who were coiffed, preened and glammed made a full time job out of keeping up with the Jones’ all whilst keeping tabs on all the gossip, ahem, I mean expat community news.
Against the backdrop of real time these ladies of Jumeira manors were actually part of an adventurous expat cohort that helped to pave a way for future expat wives, mums, and women in general to contemplate a stint in the sandpit. And, as Dubai evolved and transformed so too did the expat community and the ‘JJ’ moniker became a tongue-in-cheek reference to those privileged ladies, many of whom lived a life (far from their homeland’s two-up-two-down) in their palatial Jumeira villas complete with the perfect ocean view.
Thanks to the vision of Sheikh Mohammed and his father before him (PBUH) the heart of Dubai gently seeped across the Emirate like the waves lapping the golden shores of Jumeira. The construction industry launched a mission and new community developments sprung up in areas that were then viewed as ‘the sticks’. Arabian Ranches was just one such community. Designed to appeal to expats, the Ranches as it is known, offered expats the rare opportunity to purchase their own slice of the desert’s oasis. Behold, out of the manicured communal landscaping emerged a new expat, ‘Ranches’ Rachael’ or ‘RR’ as she might sometimes be known. RR was similar to JJ in that the salon trips were scheduled on repeat and entertaining and socialising were still very much a mainstay of Ranches’ life. But Rachael often pushed the boundaries – often she had a job to fit around school hours or at the very least volunteered to be class rep or a member of the PTA but the non-negotiable were the jodphurs: post-school drop off canters with her four legged friend were her truly valued ‘me’ time in the increasingly fast paced life that Dubai now offered.
As time marched on, and Dubai continued to develop and open its arms to citizens from around the world, labels melted away. Life in the Emirate became more fast paced and service providers constantly sought ways to adapt to continue to offer the ‘spoiling’ to which many of us had become accustomed. Like a gladiator (albeit with the perfect manicure and a sleek, frizz-free mane) I have courageously battled against becoming ‘that’ person who can no longer do anything for themselves: how else could I survive in my home country??? I have resisted home salon services. I have resisted the delivery of home cooked meals. I have resisted nannies and drivers taking my kids to and from school and doing their projects. So much resistance.
But honestly, so much resistance can grind one down: especially during a pandemic. Used to driving anything up to 150KM a day, lockdown turned my daily road trips into my monthly average. When I was worrying about the lack of use of my car and what that would mean (all the while sitting in scorching desert temperatures), I should have been thinking about nourishing my baby so she could actually run without spluttering. It would seem the lockdown got one over on my ‘fuel’ brain and as restrictions eased, I frequently found myself yelling at the light flashing on my dashboard which indicates I only have 30KM of fuel left. I had gone from 2-3 weekly petrol fill ups to once a month and it seems my post-lockdown brain did not register that very well.
One too many near misses re: fuel and I smacked that gladiator spirit in the mouth and signed up for my latest guilty Dubai pleasure, fuel delivery. Drop a pin and you are in! Cafu – a company that comes to fill your car, wherever your location, within a two hour timeframe whether you are there or not, has been my saviour.
My name is Cafu Carren or CC for short……the new label in town!