Abu Dhabi Weather

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


A really odd thing happened tonight that I would imagine is not common at all. We had just sat down to dinner when the doorbell rang. I was half-expecting one of my co-workers to stop by and was surprised to see a woman dressed in Emirati clothing. I think she was as surprised to see us as we were her but she continued anyway. After finding out that we didn't speak Arabic, she continued in fairly passable English.

Apparently, she has three children and her husband is in Lebanon with heart problems. Due to her inability to express herself in English, I'm not sure of the extent of her husband's illness, but I got the feeling that she's pretty desperate. She asked us for money, food, or anything we can spare. She said she needs things like diapers, but has no job or income and no way to get anything because of her husband being in in the hospital in Lebanon. My first reaction after having been the victim of scams before was, "That serves me right for answering the door," "My tacos are getting cold," and "How am I going to get rid of her." After a little thought, I looked at her a little more closely and noticed that she seemed pretty desperate.

My wife and I regrouped in the kitchen and decided to give her some money and food. I reasoned that the bit that we gave her would make little difference to our family's well-being and in the off chance that she was scamming us, at least our conscience would be clear. In poorer countries, the hesitation with giving money to people on the street is that I will be inundated with hoards of others trying to take advantage of my magnanimous generosity. Here, however, I don't see that happening among the local population.

I would be interested in the opinions and experiences of people who have live in the UAE longer than me. I know that not every Emirati is rich, but I never expected to see people going door to door.


  1. Bizarre, it is typically a scam. It is common with "over-stayers". I give to the fellas an' gals at my work for cleaning my coffee cup/car. I give to the building watchmen. They provide a "service".

    I never give to the doorbell-ringers. She did us before/after she did you...

  2. I'm new here and it seemed odd. I kind of figured it was a scam but it was worth what we gave her for a clean conscience. I told myself if it was a recurring thing that it's probably not legit. Kudos to the woman last night for getting to me first.

  3. "My tacos are getting cold." Yeah, that's what I think every time there's a woman at my door. Seriously, though, I haven't seen this in my part of the country, but around here begging appears to be a seasonal problem associated with the high holidays. Look at it this way. You may have helped someone in genuine need, but even if it were a cynical scam, you helped yourself by practicing compassion. In that case, what did you really lose?


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.