For many married expat men, working in the United Arab Emirates over the summer months can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand they have a new found freedom and on the other, it can be downright lonely.
Every summer from July onwards many of the stay-at-home wives and children of Dubai’s expatriate population head home to Europe or further afield, to dodge the 40-50 degree heat and skip the onset of Ramadan, a holy period where eating and drinking in public is prohibited before sunset. That gives the UAE’s foreign married men the chance to let loose in Dubai’s bars and clubs or sometimes just order more pizza or get cooked for by the maid.
This year, though, the bachelor partying will be cut short as Ramadan comes early, starting at the beginning of August. While alcohol is still served in some spots, the music is switched off or turned down.
But for many of the married men who think they’ll enjoy their freedom by testing their flirting skills on other women, it doesn’t always go to plan.
“There I am thinking this is guy’s time, I’m going to go out clubbing, we went out with a group of girls and we just ended up leaving them there. Going dancing without your partner just isn’t as much fun,” says Riad Gohar, a 30-year old real estate broker whose wife and son have gone off to Montreal for the summer.
While most expatriate men stay behind, many Emiratis leave the country, heading for cooler pastures in the UK, Germany and Switzerland, and making the occasional headline by getting into scrapes with their outlandishly expensive cars.
With the departure of the Emiratis and other Gulf nationals, business slows, and volumes on the region’s stock markets slump. Deals are put on hold until things pick up after Ramadan and the national holidays that follow.
At Rattlesnake, one of Dubai’s famous haunts for single men on the prowl, there are usually more men during the summer weekends. “We do get extra guys coming at the weekends, they’re probably just trying to enjoy themselves when they’re single and no one is there to bother them,” says one employee at the hotel that hosts the popular nightspot.
Rattlesnake won’t have much luck this summer as the bar turns into a restaurant for Ramadan.
Jamie Brooks, a 31-year old sales director at Avtrade, an aviation services company, feels similarly about the toss up between loneliness and getting some time to himself.
“I feel lonely mostly and the house is very quiet but I have to admit a bit of ‘me time’ is great,” Mr Brooks says. ”I have friends in the same scenario as myself and yes, they behave themselves but they probably eat too much, have later nights, eat more junk food and drink too much beer and tequila!”
So, it’s a case of can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Amongst all the thrown away delivery boxes and smelly socks one gets the feeling that the wives don’t need to worry, these guys aren’t going anywhere.
Plight of the summer bachelor, Khaleej Times
The lonely summer bachelor, gulfnews.com
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