Eid, Love, Fear and Life


I may write this late but it’s also because a lot going on at home.  The crazy wife has been on 16 hour days 7 days a week for 3 weeks, my mind is racing, the kids are bored and it’s so hot I can bake cookies on my dashboard.  But what I have to say in this post may put things in a different perspective.

Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan every year.  Its a celebration of the Holy month for Muslims and it ends the month of fasting for 30 days.

This year, during Ramadan, in Dubai it was fasting from about 4:15am and lasting until just after 7pm.  Because of how it fell, it was still during school and the school run and school pickup and normal life.  Group that with around 45 degrees (c) at the time (now its around 50) and it makes for a very interesting time but also a very self inventive one.

I continued to fast 6 days after.  My wife always says I’m trying to ‘get more points’ with Allah.  Yes, its kinda of like that but it’s like a consolidation of fasting for the entire year.  So I guess it’s like ‘points’ in  a way.  Again, she is the crazy wife.

I still go to gym and still do the whole thing. I know that sounds stupid – in fact – it sounds stupid to me, too – no water.  The kids get a bit jumbled because we aren’t going for coffee anymore (and I believe my Starbucks guy thinks I’ve been deported at this point because all of the chocolate flakes for my MochaChocolate have gone stale now).

CrazyWife is on brunch withdrawals, many of her friends have all flown back home for the summer and sitting out in the garden is like her own personal sauna (if you’ve been to Dubai in the middle of summer and humidity and you will understand why her pores are so clear).

The joy of taking my daughter to the mosque every year for Eid is something that we have always looked forward to.  It’s that time where it’s just us and we get to experience to the joy of that first day of Eid at 430 a.m. going to the Mosque.

We spent Eid in Al Ain this year because my sister and mom are there. We headed to the hotel (because my crazy wife can’t bear anything else but a pamper type hotel and she can’t bear the idea of staying with my family – long funny story there). By the way, the #AlAinRotana is about as cool as it gets!  Hit the Falaj Suite – you won’t go back.

Here becomes the challenge.

We wake up and she is happily ready and waiting to go at 4am and off we go to find the closest mosque for our first Eid prayers.

We arrive and there is, I’m sure, more than 3000 people filtering in.

We find a place and I’m not at all comfortable.

My mind, which should be free and clear at this time – it should be pure and full of love and Allah – is not.

There was a bomb that happened in Saudi Arabia in Medina which is a holy city for Muslims. And, for the first time, my time was working – overtime.

Security was in front of the mosque and checking people that carried anything- even water bottles.

I held her close to me because there were so many people.  It was the first time in my life I was seeing this and the first time in my life I worried.  This was not how I grew up or went to the mosque.  My mind was going in so many places and so many worries.

I have my daughter with me.  What do I do if something goes wrong?  I worry about her – I don’t care if I die – but I care about her fear and not knowing where she is.

I think I realised at this point about how vulnerable we are in the world. I realised that something that was so simple and pure and so real all of my life, became a threat.

For me, I’m in the house of Allah and I should be safe – this is the safe place –  I should feel safe.  My fear and all should be left at the door at that moment.

But what if something went wrong?

I looked at where we went to pray.  I looked at the walls. The walls to be closest to. The walls in case something happened and there was a stampede.  And, if she was left and I was hurt, I could only think she would be off to the side and not be hurt.  What do we do if the wall comes down that we are standing by to protect us?  How do I protect her?  I thought of her mom and her little sister.  My mind raced thinking of the fear on her little face not knowing what to do or where to go if something went wrong and the terror she would feel. My eyes are full of tears as I write this and my heart is my entire chest now.

I’m in a house of Allah and for the first time in my life I’m full of fear.  I wasn’t fearful for me but for her.  I’m her protector.  She looks to me to make sure she ok.  She is only 6.

My entire world changed and my prayers changed that day.  My thoughts were not with me then.  I felt fear.

Should I have left, I don’t know.  Should I have gone home and relayed my fears to the crazy wife (who when I did promptly checked the status of the life insurance policy for exclusions), I don’t know.

I do know that this is not the fear that I want my daughter to feel.

I want her to see the good in the world.  I want her to see how great it is to help people and not hurt them.  I want her to understand that every religion lives together in harmony as it  should.  Even intra-religion it should be safe and secure and whole.IMG-20120818-00339-1

Where we are right now, I wasn’t sure at that point.  And the decision that I made was what I made.  But it changed me as a man and as a Muslim and as a father.

We do everything we can to protect our children.  How do we protect them when things go wrong?

My life changed and I think that many lives are changing now as I write this for the very same reason.

I may be a bit serious at this point – but atleast the crazy wife has confirmed the life insurance policy status.

#Peace #Love #Compassion #Unity #OurWorld


When We Thrive, They Thrive


I have been blessed to meet many people here in Dubai that have shown me how to be a better parent and a person.  I have also met people that continue to dismiss, judge and laugh at the joy and happiness that I have being an Arab man that stays at home  with his kids.  I’m also laughed at because I share a different view about tolerance and growing as a person.

StayAtHomeDads, we are unique.  We go against the normal traditions which I really understand and respect. We also live a life full of relationships. We have a relationship with the cashier at Spinneys, the nursery head, the school parking attendant.  We have a relationship with our maintenance guy, our childs teacher, our boss, our friends, our spouse, our cleaners, our guys at Starbucks (and every person should have a wonderful relationship with the barrista because he rocks!) and yes, our children.

I met a woman, months ago, a doctor actually who runs a place called Lighthouse Arabia here in Dubai.  They help adults and kids and everyone with the changes and challenges, grief and love that comes along with living – an continuing to live. We met by accident when I saw some things they were doing on Instagram and I wanted to see what they were all about.  Yet, I might be stuck again, with another lot of the mummy Gucci Patrol (on the Jumeirah side its called the ‘Prada Patrol’ by the way).   I really takes risks!


I am lucky because I drop my girls off to school and nursery and I get the chance to have some mornings where I meet amazing people (and sometimes people that just make me laugh, worry and want to hit my car because I was playing on my phone while driving – which, by the way, after a 500AED fine and a big lecture from the #crazywife is never worthwhile).

What I have figured out, after my time in Dubai, is about how  the way I am raised and what I do may not always be what fits my kids.  After all, they are them.   They are unique.  They are special. But wow, I really want them to be what I want them to be.

THAT is not what is going to happen.

Cue in, Dr Saliha Afridi  who one day had shared with me one day at a group discussion at Lighthouse Arabia about a letter her daughter had written to her.  Her daughter is now a teenager (I bow down to all parents that have teenagers) It was a moment where I finally realised that I was not what they (my girls) were going to become.  They were going to become what I never dreamed.

This letter was written to her mother.  She was very clearly upset.  She told her that she was her own person – she wanted her own direction – she wanted to go her own way. She said that she was not going to be as perfect as her and that she had different dreams and different ideas.

When I read this long letter, among all of these women in this discussion, my eyes began to tear up.

I listened to this girl explaining to her mother, as incredible as she may be,  that she wanted to pursue what was important to her and that she was not going to be what she ‘thought’ her mother wanted her to be. She was tired of  being compared and wanted something more. It was raw.  It was pure from this girl.  It was raw for a mother to hear.

As a parent I want them to become better.  In my mind, I think I am better.  I think that what I have done is responsible and sensible and logical.  I also want them become MORE responsible – MORE sensible and MORE logical.

Side note – My CrazyWife wants them to become plastic surgeons so that they can come up with something better than botox and can make her look like a 20 year old. I kinda like her as she is but she thinks differently as I suppose we all think when it comes to our life.  And, what is botox anyway???  I’m Egyptian, we use vaseline to look young!

I want to share a few things with you about what I have learned and am doing everyday to be a better parent, husband and human.

Science says that human beings are not meant to be together physically for a lifetime but emotionally, we are in tune to lifelong connections.  This makes me think that those connections, whether its married, divorced, parental or any other, remain forever.

Children, as vulnerable, true and pure as they are, see what is in front of them and whatever relationships they form set the foundation for them, especially early on.

If they see loneliness, fearfulness, hatred, they will exhibit the same signs.

Our love for one another, in whatever way that is as a parent, guardian, couples or anything means that love needs to be evident.  It needs to show.

Our partner, in any way that is, needs attachment, closeness, someone that holds your inside securely but helps you bring it out.  Our partner needs someone that gives a sense of security and safety.

I had learned along all of this blah blah blah in reading and meetings that sometimes those really ‘educated’ people can say is that the strongest individual and the strongest couples that are deeply connected make the best mentors, parents, coaches, friends, people.   Maybe that blah blah blah wasn’t such blah blah blah.

Its those couples (and I use the term loosely because a couple can mean anything), that exhibit trust and love, seems to offer energy on everyone around them (like a really good virus that you don’t always think you want but sometimes you need to make you better), are the ones that end up lifting up everyone around them – including their kids.

When we trust each other, we get several things:

  • Confidence
  • Laughter
  • Security
  • Emotion
  • Happiness

When you have a partner, you are able to feel like there is someone to stand up for you (my CrazyWife will stand up for me- argue endlessly with them until we are on the verge of deportation and then tuck in behind me for protection )and thats her – but its also me – because I know she has my back.  I know that when I need that help, she jumps in.  I also know that when she needs me to be there for her and make her feel like she is the top of the world, I’m there.  When I am worried or happy, she stands right beside me like a partner in battle or in celebration.   Kids see that.

When we have a healthy relationship (in whatever way you think that is), it becomes physically healthier, more creative, more independent.  You feel like you can take on the world.

Can you imagine how our kids would feel with that?  Can you imagine how our children can feel seeing not only their parents or uncles/aunts/grandparents be like this but knowing that the feeling right there means that it gives them strength to persevere.  It gives them strength to be more confident, independent, opinionated, creative, curious and innovative.

We also know that with a positive relationship as their role models,  they see love, fondness, admiration, responsibility and being gentle.

The influence becomes unimaginable. They want to help solve (rather than run away).  They want to help create (rather than wait for someone else to do it).  They want to thrive (rather than falter).

When we become influencers, and only at that time, do we become people that can bring UP other people.

When we show tolerance to every nationality, every religion, every choice in lifestyle, every way of living – we get the opportunity to show our next generation what THEY are capable of – not what we were – but what THEY ARE capable of doing.

We have few chances to be real.  We have many chances to share everything with our kids. Even if your wife wants them to be plastic surgeons, lawyers or doctors or helping the environment – We get to show them a foundation of love and they go on their way.

Even if you are divorced, single, in a relationship or anything else, we get to show small ones around us the good and love that people can have for each other.

Take your shot at thriving.  See what happens when you do.

For information on Lighthouse Arabia– click the link.  They are great friends to #ArabBabaThatsMe

*This is not a paid post.

It’s Family – But it’s weird


I met my crazy wife’ father more than a year ago. We met under terrible circumstances with him just losing his only son hours before, meeting his granddaughters for the first time and needing to make a drive back because his wife (who is just about the most wonderful person ever) was having heart surgery.

I didn’t realize it at the time how important this man would be to me.

I didn’t know how to deal with him or anyone else. I didn’t know how to deal with my American family. Here I was. I was with him, his wife, my wifes mother and sister and all of that drama that comes around with people being together.

My wife and I have been together for almost 9 years. I also knew that her dad was convinced I was a terrorist in some form. I am not but I am Muslim and Arabic and for him, maybe I represented all that was wrong with the world but I was definitely not a terrorist.. He didn’t know who I was and that I am just like everyone else. On the other side, I didn’t know who he was either.

My challenge was that I had a lot to deal with.  My wife has had a challenging relationship with her father.  Maybe not estranged, but it’s separate – just not together.  Not like she has with her mom.  They don’t talk and they do these things that you are suppose to do like wish happy birthdays and stuff. Her mother is the matriarch.  Crazy Wife calls her the Queen Bee. They try to keep everything happy and comfortable. It never was until now.

Her father and mother have been divorced for about 30 years. They both moved on but I guess there is still a lot of feeling and anger and love between them. I saw that. But I also saw something different. They shared children and loss and I wasn’t sure where I would fit into this different thing.

Crazy Wife older sister is a bit more crazy than my wife. I say this because they are both full of love but they have no idea how it all works together.

Brother/Son is dead. He died last year from Multiple Sclerosis and if you read on this and don’t know it, please check.  It’s a stupid, stupid, stupid disease that changed a big mans life into pain and fear and loss for everyone around. I also know what it did to this family and it changed everything for good and for bad.

I suppose that what I write about is about family and how everything changed  and how easily it can.

Family is amazing and when you put everyone together it becomes drama and happiness all wrapped into one gift.  How you open that gift and re live that gift is different all of the time and everytime that you open it.


I spent two weeks (part of which was my wife in another city in meetings) listening to how spoiled my kids were.  I listened to them cringe at the sound of a 2 year old screaming. I listened to people telling me what I should and should not do.  I was more miserable than being there when my wifes’ brother died a year ago. That was just me. I guess it wasn’t about me.  Atleast all of that was a reason to be miserable.  But these people were not happy. They were not happy in any sense of any word. I sat for 2 weeks being patient and holding everything in. I was one of those people where I thought that being Arabic and the drama around it was not so bad.  Arabic at the least talks to everyone else about everything but this family talked fancy stuff but held everything in.

My father in law is a dynamic man.  He is full of a lot of this and that and has a lot of love for his children and grandchildren.   I had no idea how I would fit in.

CrazyWife was now tense.  He was driving up 12 hours from his home to spend time with us and his grandkids all in one place. Because my wife had meetings following this and her mind was already stressed, having her entire family in one place brought on a different element of family stress she wasn’t prepared to deal with before big meetings.

He arrived and parked his trailer (which is huge) on the property of the Queen Bee. They hoisted up this massive thing that has a full living room and bedroom and everything else you can imagine. I stood there thinking I could help and thinking how I would deal with this  man who surely didn’t like me.

Hugs and everything happened and it just proceeded for 4 days.

They talked, we talked, we cooked and bbq’d and laughed and tossed balls around (and lost them) for his dog Harley is who the most cool dog ever.  I think he is suppose to be a sheep dog but I didn’t see many sheep around. 🙂


I made them Turkish coffee in the mornings (I don’t think they liked it but they pretended and that made me happy).  I cooked Arabic food for them and they cooked home grown meat and sour dough biscuits (its like scones I think) from what they call a ‘starter’ of sour dough that is decades old.


Watching Grandpa Muddy Pants (thats what our oldest calls him) and Grandma G laugh at the girls and their cousins.  Reading and having fun and listening to how proud they were to see the articles I’ve written and just talking about everything.


Crazy Wife sat with them and talked and joked.  She said she felt more relaxed with all of them and even having the Queen Bee joining all of the time, it was like her whole family was back together. She knew that her brother was there with them because everything that meant anything to him was all in one place for the first time ever.


She even was able to download the WhatsApp for him on the phone so that they could talk more regularly which they do now. When she gets a message from her dad now, she shouts “I got a message from Dad. Thats so cool!”.  I even talk to him on WhatsApp, too.


What was a difficult two weeks was put in stone by those first 4 days.

The feeling of acceptance and family being together made me feel like I was the one that was worried.  I was the one that had the issue and that there was tolerance in so many ways.  So many quiet and unassuming ways that it just clicks in your head that we are not all that different.

I was blessed for a bit of time to realise that families everywhere are all the same.  We disagree, fight, love, like and do it all over again.


This was a gift for me to write about beause I felt like I really had developed a different bond with my American family.  That maybe I had helped my wife develop a closer relationship with her own Baba.  That they were all able to see our girls run and play and make everyone crazy.

To all of you out there – when we assume people are not going to know us or want to be a part of our lives, don’t assume.

The world is full of more tolerant people than judgemental ones.

Everyone should be so lucky to have lots of ‘moms’ and ‘dads’ and ‘family’ like I do.



Ramadan for Kids 2016 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

I was honored to be asked to contribute to the Ramadan series from my friends at MultiCulturalKidBlogs.Com – They are absolutely the best thing for worldly kids and parents.  Keep it up and check them out.  A Blessed Ramadan to all.

Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to be hosting its second annual Ramadan for Kids blog hop, where bloggers come together to share ideas for teaching kids about and honoring Ramadan. Don’t forget to check out our series from last year and follow our Ramadan board on Pinterest for even more ideas and link up your own posts below!


Welcome to Ramadan! Ramadan Kareem to everyone! As a Muslim parent, I find myself anxiously awaiting the holy month of Ramadan to celebrate with my children. It is such a wonderful time of the year for us. The meaning of Ramadan is what has always defined me as a person because of the positive energy around it. It is even more special for me now as a father, celebrating Ramadan as a family.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and lasts 29-30 days.  The sighting of the new moon (Hilal) signals the start of this wonderful and holy month for us which commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammed (p.b.u.h).

Ramadan is a time when Muslims, if able, fast from sunrise to sunset.  During this time, we focus on performing Thawab, good deeds that will be rewarded by Allah.  We find strength in our physical, emotional and spiritual state during this time which we hope to carry throughout the year. It’s as if we get a spiritual boost from celebrating Ramadan.

As a parent, the change we feel during Ramadan is even more important as I share the tradition and meaning with my girls. I also share with them the joy that during this month evil is ‘put behind bars’ and we can rejoice in community, happiness and well-being. As a result, I find that my children learn many important lessons by celebrating Ramadan that I hope they will  carry with them as they grow older.

6 Lessons Kids Learn Celebrating Ramadan as a Family

1. Sacrifice

During Ramadan we fast from sunrise to sunset.  We refrain from smoking, drinking anything (including water), eating, lying, and sinful or angry behavior. This is not easy at all.  In our part of the world, where we will have temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius with Ramadan starting in June, it can be a true test of our faith and our physical abilities depending on the length of fasting. We will fast for about 13 hours, but in some countries around the world, it can be as much as 20 hours.

2. Reflection

Ramadan is also a time when we reflect on our lives. It is a time where we aim to become as close to Allah as possible. We gather in the mosques and share this spiritual moment together.

Fasting for me, since I was 9 years old, is part of what makes me who I am because I am able to feel that I am holding onto God so much during this time. Through fasting and the reading of the entire Quran and the special prayers called Tarawih, I feel like angels come down and sit among us for the entire month.

Even my 6 year old joins me at the mosque. She was telling me just the other day that she couldn’t wait for Ramadan because she would get to go to the mosque with me again. She normally just hangs out there, but she clearly knows the intense spiritual energy that fills a mosque. This warms my heart so much. (You can also make a daily salat (prayer) chart to use with your kids).

3. Generosity

Working together as a family to perform good deeds, refrain from anger and support those less fortunate than us is something that I feel more now as a parent than I ever did before. For my girls, simply taking their coins and offering Zakat (charity) promotes generosity. Every year, when my oldest helps me prepare the Iftar bags to give out to poor people or the packets of toiletries and sweets to give to laborers, I can see this feeling deepening within her. I now understand why my own parents ensured that we continued these traditions as we were growing up. (Don’t miss this tutorial on making a good deeds jar for Ramadan).

4. Health

Ramadan, although often associated with big feasts at Iftar and Suhour (the last meal – early in the morning – before sunrise), should be a time when we become even more healthy. Teaching my own children this is important to me. Having massive amounts of food when the sun is down should not be what this is about.  It is about taking small bits and enjoying the taste, the friends, the family, the laughter, the spirit that is shared in the community.

5. Joy

The breaking of the fast (Iftar), which is done with dates and water, is one of joy, family, happiness and friends. Being in the Middle East, our Iftar and Sohour can be wonderfully tasty times – roast chicken, vegetables, rice, berries, lamb kebabs, chick-pea rice and the amazing sweets that we choose from at the end.  I definitely recommend that anyone who wants to get a taste of Ramadan come and try celebrating Ramadan with us in the Middle East.

The fun activities for children that are everywhere throughout the month make it nothing short of a miracle for me, seeing the incredible happiness that surrounds every person.  The beautiful lanterns and lights that brighten up the city anywhere in the Middle East are amazing. Even when I was living in Egypt, the streets would be empty and everyone would be in their homes breaking the fast every night. Only after the evening prayers, the streets fill up with the sound of joy and laughter as celebrations go on until the small hours of the morning.

Eid al Fitr is the celebration marking the end of Ramadan where the parties and joyfulness continue but without the fasting.

6. Tolerance

Even my crazy wife (yes, she is), who is Christian, enjoys celebrating Ramadan because this is such an important part of my life.  She even tries to fast with me the first day (not very successfully, but she does try). I also find that this shows tolerance that I want my girls to learn. We celebrate Christmas and Easter. We celebrate Ramadan and Eid al Fitr.

Religion is not something that should define us. It should be a way to be closer to God, to each other and to contribute to society through good deeds and being a better human being.  Whoever and in whatever way we celebrate God, we should all celebrate together.

For those of you who want to celebrate or take part in Ramadan and show your children the different cultures and opportunities to learn, there are always activities celebrating Ramadan within Muslim communities, no matter which country you live in.  Muslims will be more than happy to welcome you and have you take part in their festivities and joy.

When you do visit, say “Ramadan Kareem,” which is a greeting used to say “have a generous or blessed Ramadan” and can be used by anyone wanting to greet a fasting Muslim. Try it!

If anyone is interested in learning more or getting additional ideas on helping your kids with Ramadan, I’m here for you.

Ramadan Kareem to all of you. I wish you all joy and happiness.

Ramadan for Kids 2016 | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Self Employed Writer at ArabBaba.Org
I’m a proud dad to 2 beautiful and crazy little girls Saffiya and Mackenzie (and I’m married to their even more crazy mom). We live in Dubai (the luxury sandbox of the middle east!). And, I’m here to share my experiences as a stay-at-home Baba in a part of the world where it’s just not ‘the thing to do’.

Participating Blogs

ArabBaba on Multicultural Kid Blogs
All Done Monkey
Kid World Citizen
A Crafty Arab
Creative World of Varya
Crafty Moms Share
Global Advocate Jr.
Colours of Us
La Cité des Vents

كيفه التواصل العربي


مع مرور الأيام سوف نجد أطفالنا يكبرون ونحن سوف
نلاحظ ذلك ونحن لا نحمل لهم إلا الذكريات والصور وانا أؤمن كثيرا بأن قلوبنا تشتاق لرؤية هذة الصور وسترجع  الي الذكريات والي الوراء للحظات ونقول عندما نري هذة الصورة نتذكر أحداثها ومنذ كام سنه والآن مع تتطور التكنولوجيا أصبح الأمر أسهل ويسر وعندما ننظر الي أنفسنا ونقول ليت الزمان يعود بنا لكي أكون متطور أكثر من ذلك وهذا منقول بيه حاليا ونحاول الوصول إليه وتعليم أولادنا لكي يطلق عليه جيل بعد جيل ويقومون بفعل الأشياء التي كنا نسعي لتحقيقها ولكن هذة طبيعه الإنسان وانا اليوم افتخر اني مع هئيه المعرفة البشريه التي تسعي لتحقيق مستقبل مميز وأفضل خلال 10 دقائق لكل 10 أيام وبرعاية الشيخ محمد بن راشد حفظه الله وكل ما نتمناه من بعض الآباء الجلوس مع أولادهم لبعض الدقائق والمشاركه معهم والقراءة معهم لبعض الوقت لتنمية مستقبل رائع ومميز وتسميته بعام القراءة تحت رعاية سمو الشيخ محمد بن راشد حفظه الله مع توجيهات صاحب السمو الأكبر الشيخ خليفه حفظه الله وحماه وفي الحقيقه هذا اهداء مني الي جميع الأسرة والتي تعاونت معنا لتحقيق هذا القدر من التميز والنجاح وقاموا كثيرا من العائلات بوضع صور لهم مع أولادهم لكي يظهروا لنا أهمية القراءة للعالم العربي وتنمية العلاقات الأسرية وعندما أري كثيرا من الناس كيف يقومنا بالقراءة مع أولادهم أشعر بالمحبة والتقدير لهم لم يفعلونه لأجل أولادهم وليس متوقف الجلوس مع أطفالنا علي القراءة اليومية ولكن علي التحدث والمخاطبه في شتي المجالات لكي يأخذوا منا الثقه بالنفس                     ففي بعض الأوقات عندما تأتي ابنتي (صافية)  وتبلغ من العمر الست سنوات من المدرسه وتقول لي فكرة سوف نقوم لعبت المعلم والتلميذ وتقوم هي بدور شخصية المعلم وانا التلميذ وتقوم بالمزح معي في بعض الأوقات يلا سوف نقوم بجولة بجوار المنزل وغسل السيارة وبعد ذلك نذهب لشرب شاي الكرك وهو من  أفضل الشاي لدي ابي وهذا من أحب المزح لدي مع ابنتي
الاتصال العربي أن الثقافه العربية دائما تعود الي العادات والتقاليد الي استباط جانب كبير من الثقافات المختلفة وكثير من البعض لا يعرفون شيئنا  عنها لأنهم لم يتجولون بعض البلاد الآخرين هذة الثقافات عندما نقوم بمعرفتها تؤدي إلي تغير العالم العربي من حولنا والتطورات الاخري وتكوين علاقات أسرية وتفاعل أسري عظيم مع الأصدقاء وفي بعض الأحيان عندما ننظر الي أطفالنا نحب أن نشاهد كيف يقومون باستكمال شخصيتهم وبناء أنفسهم وهذا الشئ لابد انا يفتخر بيه كل الاباء وألامهات في عالمنا المميز وعندما نذهب معهم الي احدي الكافيهات مثلا لابد انا نبدأ بأخذ اراهم والتحدث معهم في شتي المجالات وأيضا عندما يعودون من المدرسه يجب علينا التحدث معهم بإلقاء بعض الاسئله عليهم وماذا كان اليوم الدراسي وماذا فعلوا من المعلمين والمعلمات ودورهم في تحسن مستوي الطلاب وكيفيه استيعاب الدروس من المعلمات والنافش معهم عندما يقومون ببعض الاسئله علي الآباء مثل ماذا تعني هذة الكلمة وما مفهومها باللغه العربية وهذا دورنا اتجاه أبنائنا لكي يتكون مجتمع أسري عظيم نفتخر بيه في جميع مجتمعنا وخاصه مجتمع دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة تحت إشراف سمو الشيخ محمد بن راشد حفظه الله .

#10Minutes10Days #khda

What to do when your wife goes on holiday (I mean work!).


My CrazyWife – I love her – but her way of scheduling things family related is something challenging (she is working on this). So, here we are for 2 weeks spring break holiday for the kids and the wife scheduled a trip to India (awhile ago) but forgetting about this important fact – Easter, Spring Break, 2 weeks of me and being entertainment for them.

This included Easter.  I’m Muslim and she is Christian and we are a culturally diversified family.  And, the fact is, I like chocolate so its always a plus.


Her work is important but I also understand that she seriously needs to find an App for “No-You-Cant-Book-Your-Trip-For-This-Week” (any ideas?).  But, I’m here and now I am tasked with creating fun and exciting and educational things for these 2 small things.

I had the luxury of putting my oldest into Sports Camp (E-sports rocks by the way) so that she could run out the energy for a few days (dodge ball was apparently a big part of her daily activity – and I apologise now for any children she assaulted with the round bouncy object at the time).  That’s only for a couple of hours.  So, here I was planning the next 2 weeks (I realise the crazy wife was only in India for a week but still – its a lifetime).

First of all, we did Easter morning on a Saturday (flight was Saturday night) so there we were – egg trails, crazy wife doing Bible stories (yes, I’m Muslim but I’m also a tolerant human being that doesn’t really care who you are if you are nice to me – I’m nice to you).

We combined this with Easter Egg colouring and a lot of dye all over everything and everyone (but I love this). The girls go crazy for this stuff.  We get some music happening and dancing and having fun.


Ok, thats day 1 and the wife hasn’t left yet.

Now, the crazy wife leaves. What do we do. The great thing is, I was calm and collected (and spent a lot of money on caffeine).  I have been doing this for 6 years but it never gets any easier with 2 very ‘active’ kids and I am definitely not getting any younger (my grey hairs are too numerous to count at this point – atleast on the beard).

After a couple of days, I call on the only other trustworthy person in my life – my sister.  She jumps in the car and heads to Dubai from Al Ain along with my awesome nephew.

My sister in all of her most wonderful self basically said, after 2 days, “We are going to Al Ain – we are heading to the zoo”.  And that was it – our direction changed and so did the rules.

We packed up our bags and we went to Al Ain Zoo.

It all started great until there was an argument about a flower and how their momma knows how to plant flowers (they clearly don’t look at our garden very often because there is nothing flowery about it).  This did not go over well and now we are on Day 4.  Im sending great pics (not this one) to the crazy wife and saying “Yay, we are having a great time don’t worry” (and she says that makes her happy and she sends me a pic of her toes peeking out of a bubble bath in some fancy hotel as I bang my head on the table).


After a few lions, some Oryx and snakes that they ran away from at the reptile house, we sought refuge in ice cream and all unnecessary sugar accessories.  This brought a few smiles and a bit of sugar high craziness.


What I found out during this time was how my oldest was understanding rules.

All of the days at the park, all of the days spending time reading together with her cousin and her sister there were some great things that we figured out together.


As parents we create rules.  We create a structure that will keep them in a few boundaries and safe and all the while trying to keep us very sane.  After all, we can’t run for the border.

We do everything we can to protect children and when you are a ‘single’ parent (even for a week or a day or on a permanent basis), trying to keep things in line is a big challenge.

She taught me something.

“Baba, why do you and momma always put rules for us?” She asked me on the way back from Al Ain?

“Why not?” I was taught a long time ago to always ask a child questions (atleast this one because she loves to answer with her own theory about life).

“What do you think if we switch and I give you the rules and you do it?”  After much thought, this is what she has thrown out there.

Hmmm…this might be an opportunity.  I truly thought that afternoon driving home that I had time to talk about this with her and understand her thinking so why not.  The crazy wife was gone, I can do what I want and lets see what happens (whats to worst that can happen? I end up eating cheerios for dinner?)

We let everyone give instructions to us all of the time – the way we drive, the way we arrive to school, the clothes we wear and who we should and shouldn’t talk to.  Why not do something different today.

I ate cheerios.  I took to exit to the next gas station because she wanted – juice (yes, just juice).  She said we should go by Burj Khalifa so we took the long way around and went that way.  She wanted to hear Hello from Lionel Richie and both of them just sang and laughed and wiggled around in their seats.

She was so happy to be able to give me a few instructions.  There weren’t so bad actually and given the choice, she did some fun stuff that I didn’t realise she would think about.

I know that we should look at children and create structure.  Sometimes its fun to just let go and give them a chance to make some rules – even just for a few minutes.  They might surprise you.

2016-03-06 21.39.50

When we arrived home and everyone was bathed and relaxed, she asked for one last rule – I was suppose to read to them. That was all I was suppose to do – read to them.

So, even though my crazy wife might be on holiday (or whatever it is that she does on these work trips), sometimes its not so bad to switch the structure around a bit.

You might be surprised what kids are going to tell you (and yes, we like Lionel Richie 🙂  ).







#10Minutes10Days – Make a Difference


Recently I had the honor of being asked to be part of the #10Minutes10Days initiative by #KHDA. And no, I’m not getting paid for this 🙂  So, If you don’t know who KHDA is, they are the Knowledge and Human Development Authority here in Dubai. Basically, they are the ‘boss’ of education here in a lot of ways.  And, when I moved from Qatar to the UAE, I was told they were the ones that determined how ‘good the schools were’ and how we determined where to place our oldest in school.  I also heard they were the big, bad boys that all of the schools were scared of.

In 2015 I began conversations with KHDA as I began my writing as a complete accident.  We kept up the relationship and worked on a lot of things together over the last 7 months. But the biggest change for me was that the perception that everyone had about them was completely wrong.  They weren’t these big, bad people.  They were these people that wanted to see education in Dubai that would make us the best in the world.  They wanted to see more involvement in the community to offer kids and parents the best choices available and also make sure that what educational institutions say they do, they do.  After all, that is what we are paying for, right?

The interesting part? These guys were fun! They weren’t big, bad auditors with a clip board and a red pen.  They wanted the best for the community.  You could actually go and just hang out at KHDA.  You could drop in and have an ice cream or relax with the team there.  Take a look at what #KhaleejTimes reported recently

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 8.32.18 PM


When I realised we were thinking the same way as me and that we mutually agreed that parental engagement was one of the most important factors in a child’s educational success then I knew that I found friends.

We began a collaboration to support HH Sheikh Mohammad’s initiative for 2016 as the Year of Reading weeks ago and the newest fun focus to the Dubai Community was the #10Minutes10Days challenge.

The idea was to get parents to start with just spending 10 minutes for 10 days reading with their child (or any important child in their life).  Then, posting that pic to Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or even just email each day.  But, the pledge parents ‘sign’ puts them in the challenge to make a difference for a child as well as a themselves. The cool part is that it also gives everyone that enters the chance to win a free book for themselves and their child for a whole year (great support from the team at #EmiratesLitFest )


All of you that know me, know that reading and helping to educate my girls in whatever way I can as a stay at home baba is the biggest priority for me.  I want them to succeed and go further than me.  I want them to know more about the world and get their imagination going.


What has become more important to me is the time that we have together.  They ask questions, they are curious and interested.  It has started more conversations with my girls than I ever thought possible.  Even my 2 year old asks why or knows her colours and shapes because we spend time with a book.


I know that everyone works or is so busy doing so many things.  My drive has been getting Babas more involved with their kids.  It’s not the mum’s job to raise our kids.  It’s not the nanny and its not a teacher.  It takes a village to raise a child and sometimes that village is resources that we, are parents, come to rely on such as here in Dubai.  Parents nowadays need ideas in small bites to help them develop a strong and lasting relationship.   So doing something like this, even for 10 minutes will change your life and the life of your child.


So no, I’m not getting paid by KHDA to do this.  I’m doing this because I believe in an important relationship between parents, children and their educators and I believe in KHDA are doing everything possible to not let people think they are the ‘bad guys’.  I most certainly don’t see governments in this part of the world wanting to make such a difference in a way that is committed to happiness and wellbeing everywhere.

Happiness starts at home but WoW, can you imagine what that will do for our children later on?

Sign up.  And, even if you don’t, take the time to make a difference.  Their happiness now and later in life is your investment.



An Expat Child Doesn’t Care About Tax-Free

Child Doesnt Care TaxFree

An Expat gets defined as one who has taken up residence in a foreign country. Many reading this are just that.  And, many reading this didn’t even leave their homeland – they simply moved far away from their family and friends. But, the same challenges can be there as someone that moves 6000 miles away.  Finances change.  Your phone rarely goes on silent at night because you don’t want to miss ‘that’ call that people can be fearful of getting at 3a.m. from home.  Roads change.  Language changes. Culture changes.  You miss stupid things from home that meant nothing then but really do now.

It all sounds depressing and hopeless.  But hey, many expats (working overseas) get the luxury of being relatively tax free.  I say this as my crazy wife goes into the US tax season with folders strewn across the desk, bed and receipts for things I have no idea what for and brandishing 3 different colors of highlighters – highlighting I don’t know what.

Now throw into the mix a kid or two.

Our girls have never lived in the country their passports say they are from.  They were born in Qatar, live in Dubai and each have 2 different passports defining their identity and entitlements.  (By the way, I am taking contributions from anyone for their future therapy that may be needed as they hit some identity crisis down the road and want to move to Greenland to ‘find themselves’.)

Herein lies the challenge that we are parents often fail to understand when we have a child abroad or pluck them out of their home and throw the family on a plane to some foreign land where they don’t speak the same language, eat the same food or wear the same clothes.

‘They’ tell us that children are resilient.  ‘They’ tell us that children adjust.  And while we are so busy ‘adjusting’ to our new jobs, lifestyle, friends, language and currency, these little ones get dropped into something that we assume they are going to be fine at because we are going through our own drama. ‘They’ don’t bother to tell us that kids really don’t care that you are making a tax free income right now.  ‘They’ don’t bother to say that they have no one around them that is ‘home’.

I think we should find out who ‘They’ are and put them on a deserted island in the South Pacific.

This came about recently and what I have written the last 6 years is definitely shortened to this.

My closest friend,  Hassen, who is my brother – not by blood – but should be, has been with me through my entire life.  We grew up together.  We lived in the same village in Egypt.  We ended up the same country (Qatar) without even realising it later on in life.  And this man has been there since both of our daughters birth and is the true meaning of ‘Omu’ (Uncle – in arabic).  And, as luck would have it, he is one of only 3  people my wife allows in the house for longer than 6 hours.

He makes trips here every few months to Dubai from Qatar to be with us and to see ‘his girls’.  Why? Are we that exciting of a family?  Well, yes, we are cool.  Especially if my wife ends up with a bottle of south african wine and decides she will do karaoke for all of us (without the karaoke machine!).

Anyway, he comes here because when we left, he felt like he lost his family.  We felt the same.  When we are together, its like everything is just where it should be – with family.

He was with us from the day our daughters were born. He stood by my side in troubled times.  He was the one that cared for our oldest for 2 days straight while my wife and I were in the hospital bringing our youngest into the world.

There is love there.


And, while all of the love and karaoke is great – there comes a time when people need to go back where they are from.  That can be whether they leave you, you return from holiday or friends finish their contract and go home.

This is the thing that kids don’t understand.  What they understand is who is around them, who loves them, who sings to them and who adores the very ground they walk on and would even build toys that take nuclear scientists hours to figure out.


Even if they have lived with it their entire lives – human connection is what binds us.  When connections are disrupted or severed, for a child, this becomes a fundamental change to how they view and cultivate relationships (‘big words’  courtesy of the crazy wife because I gave up trying to use hand gestures to explain my translation).

The picture you see at the top is a picture my wife took while Saffiya’s ‘Omu Hassen’ was headed to the airport to return ‘home’ and thought she would capture a lovely moment.

Instead, our headstrong little 6 year old had burst into tears asking him not to leave his ‘family’.  He then did the same.

Here is where my failure was, at that moment, as a parent, that I had never properly prepared her for change with people.

I had dismissed her understanding of familial relationships. I just assumed she was too young to understand why we moved countries, why had to pack up our bags, why her kitties went into boxes under the plane.

I was too busy worrying about getting my drivers license and paying a fortune in upfront school fees to think that all of those things I thought were small to her were actually huge, big, momentous things.

I was thinking for her.  I was assuming and dismissing.

That night, the change happened.

We sat, as a family and talked about family.  We talked about why we moved.  We talked about where they were from (as the 2 year old pulled the tail of those kitties).  We looked at pictures of their family both here and far away.  And, we called them.  We talked to them.  We even showed our oldest the constant Whatsapp messages we had back and forth with all of the family – sharing pictures, funny stories and saying we loved them.

Kids don’t care about tax free.  They care about having parents around them that don’t negate their feelings.  Knowing that people are around them that aren’t going anywhere and understanding that close connection between you and the family that is near or far doesn’t go away.

The next holiday you have, the next trip you make, the next boxes you pack for another move to a country or a different school, think about how big and huge and humongous that trip will be for them.  They didn’t have the choice – but we do, as parents, to show them that connection never goes away.




4 Teeth, The Sun and The Fairy


My six year old lost 4 teeth in ten days. I now began to wonder if we would have to start feeding her through a straw and seek speech therapy for this newly formed lisp (lack of front teeth).  But, aside from the drama associated from losing those 4 teeth, losing (in various ways and means) 3 of those 4 teeth between her, my crazy wife and I and the mystery of The Tooth Fairy, I felt it was high time to educate my daughter on the age old Egyptian tradition of the sun.

The wife was travelling on this particular time (#3 of 4 teeth) and The Tooth Fairy duty was passed to me with very clear guidelines and instructions on how/when/where/why to conduct the infamous tooth/money switch.  She is the creative half of our relationship.  She creatively passes the baton of her Pinterest ideas for me to execute.  But for me, I do enjoy them actually.  It’s fun seeing the girls laugh at their dad coloring Elsa and Anna with purple and pink (oh the tragedy of wrong colors!).


So as you can see, the wife has left instructions in case that tooth has come out.  This includes a pre-written note for the tooth fairy to ensure the consistency of handwriting and not to prompt the curiosity of a 6 year olds keen observations of the slightest discrepancy in her mystery (i.e. different writing).

I tuck her in and her big toothless grin full of excitement really makes me laugh and remember when my own teeth came out (and the new fact that she will now have saved 60dhs – equivalent of about $16 dollars for 3 teeth – by tomorrow morning).

I tell her the story of what we did when I was little in Egypt and what Grandma (‘Teeta’) would tell me when my teeth would come out.

The tradition was you would take your tooth and throw it to the sun and say (loosely translated), “Ya Sun Ya Sun, take my old tooth and give me the tooth of a strong fairy”.  Then, we would go to sleep and our tooth would obviously grow in big and strong.  We didn’t have some weird fairy thing that would enter our room while we slept (gives me shivers to even think about that now), reach under our pillow and ‘purchase’ our teeth.  What would she be doing with all of those teeth anyway?  The visions are scary!  And my wife insists on this?  Ugh!  Western people! J

She listens and likes the idea of throwing her tooth to the sun, but now it’s dark so she will have to settle for The Tooth Fairy (besides, she gets money out of this version).

She ventures off into another thought about the long trip to the US last year (15+ hours) and how the sun was in the sky the entire flight until we landed.   She thought it was strange because when she sleeps, the sun should go to sleep too, and it didn’t.

I had to admit it was interesting to be on a 15 hour flight and the sun shining the entire time so we started talking about the sun and she started talking to me about what she learned in school and how the earth moves in circles around the sun.

“But why doesn’t the sun rest like when we are in Dubai and we rest?”

I started really thinking about this.  It’s such a big subject and surely one that should be discussed in daylight.  But I wanted to keep going with her.

“You are right.  The sun doesn’t rest.  It never sleeps.”  I start

“No way! How does it have the energy to keep shining? And what about my brother in the USA?  Does he get the sun at the same time as me and we can see it together?  My teacher told me that when it’s dark in Dubai it’s sun in America.  Is that true?  Does my brother have sun right now?”  Her big brown eyes are big as plates and she holds tight onto her tooth fairy bag under her pillow.

“In an easy way to say it, our earth kinda moves around the sun and the moon moves around the earth.  Its kind of like juggling a bunch of balls in our universe.  The earth also turns slowly.  It takes 1 day to turn so half of the day we see the sun side and the other half we start to see the moon side.  So when it’s dark, we are on the moon side of the 24 hours and your brother is on the sun side.”  As I’m trying to remember all of the science stuff and not botch up what her teacher is trying to tell her as well.

“But then why do we live on a big ball. Earth is a big ball. Is it like a football?  Do you think God plays football with the earth?”   She’s very interested now.  I’m about rolling on the floor and contemplating telling her yes, God plays football with the earth and that’s how we get earthquakes, but I will hold that one out for now.

“And baba, what about the people on the bottom of the ball, why don’t they fall off?”

“Baba, what about the water, how is it staying on the earth?”

I kept remembering all of these same questions I had when I was her age.  I remember having a great teacher who spent so much time with me trying to explain how the universe worked and how he was one of the only teachers that didn’t make me feel stupid – but wanted me to understand a subject that he loved.  I still feel that he is the one that made me want to become a teacher in the first place.

All of these questions put us up to almost 9 p.m. on a school night.  I didn’t mind.  I really enjoyed listening and watching her little mind working.  How she was processing thoughts and thinking about things so simply but in such a big way.

I was proud of her.  I was proud that we could develop and learn together.  I was able to share traditions with her and be a part of a memory that I hope that she will carry forever.

Since then, for her Saturday Book Choice (you’ll learn more about this in the next issue of @Teach_UAE magazine) we picked up a book on the solar system.  She touches on it every few days but I did catch her with it the other night in the middle of the floor telling ‘Magic Bunny’ (her stuffed bunny) about the earth and it’s like a football.

I suppose what I got out of this little evening was the bond between my daughter and I continues to grow.  We touch on her dual heritage, traditions and her rising inquisitiveness.   I don’t want to lose this time.  I want to keep this time alive.  Before you know it, she is going to be locking herself in her room, listening to music, telling me she doesn’t like me and wearing makeup (atleast that’s what these parenting books keep telling me).  So I want to spend as much time as I can creating memories of warmth, love and stories.    I really challenge the rest of you to open up those simple conversations and see where they go.

It doesn’t take The Tooth Fairy or the Sun to create a memory – it takes you, your time and some imagination to open up a child’s mind, create curiosity and satisfy questions they may have.

It also makes for a great way to fall asleep. 🙂

11 February 2016

#Science #Teacher #Sun #Toothfairy #School #Egypt #Tradition #SolarSystem #Earth #Learning #Education #Curiosity #Imagination

Real Men Read UAE

This is such an exciting initiative to be a part of – continue to support The Year of Reading 2016 and through #RMRUAE you can show the world that RealMenRead Read on and be involved


KDSL responds with an idea to promote reading

ABU DHABI, UAE, February 14, 2016 – On March 1, Real Men Read UAE will start in the UAE. This month long reading campaign will be similar to the program from the United States. In the UAE males are encouraged to read to students at school, home or in the community. Organized by Kevin Simpson of Know.Do.Serve.Learn (KDSL), a UAE-based education company, this literacy initiative was a response to His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, declaration that 2016 is the Year of Reading in the UAE, under the guidance of Sheikh Khalifa.

Real Men Read UAE will kickoff in Dubai at Collegiate American School, an Innoventures Education school. Tammy Tusek, Head of School, stated, “Collegiate American School is proud to be promoting Real  Men Read UAE during the month…

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