Today was my kids' first day of school. Everything seemed to go pretty well. Because we're still in Ramadan, the school has special Ramadan hours for this week. That works out fairly well, because my wife gets a week to ease into taking the kids to school. Last year, the kids took the bus to school, but now that they're both going full days, my wife decided that we could save money by getting a second car and then she could drive them to school. I was a little unsure of how that would work out for her with traffic and parking, but today was no problem.
Of course, there was also the drama of getting their school uniforms. In the UAE there is a law saying that all schools must have a uniform. To the school's credit, they chose a simple uniform involving just just plain navy blue shorts or skirt and a polo shirt with the school's logo on it. To their lack of credit, they chose a supplier with one store in the Abu Dhabi area which is about 25 miles out of town in the middle of nowhere.
Last year when we didn't have a car, she had to take a taxi out to Al Raha mall where the store is with two kids to get them fitted. On the way back, she had to wait for over an hour for a taxi because, as I said, it's in the middle of nowhere.
This year, both of our kids outgrew their shorts / skirt so they needed new clothes. My wife, thinking ahead, drove to the store to get the uniforms about ten days before the first day of school. She bought them and was told that she would have to come back to get them adjusted because the person who adjusted them wouldn't be back until September (less than five days before school started). When she went back there the other day, she was told that the amount she wanted the clothes adjusted was too small to get them fixed, making the trip out there a complete waste of time. I should once again mention that the store is 25 miles one way.
While at the store, she ran into another mother whose son also goes to GEMS American Academy. She said that a number of mothers complained about the same things that were annoying my wife such as: cheap fabric, expensive price, lack of consistency in sizing and the remoteness of the only store that sells the uniforms. She then told my wife that while parents have no choice but to but the polo shirts from Zak's (the uniform shop), there's a shop in town that sells identical bottoms of better quality more cheaply. In fact, the store is only a block away from our apartment.
So, for you parents of students at GEMS American Academy who are looking for a place in town to buy school uniform bottoms of better quality more cheaply, go to a store above the Spinney's in Khalidiyah. It's a small store, but is much better. (Screw you, Zak's.) As for the polo shirts, Zak's comes to the school sometime in the beginning of the year and you can stock up then.