Ask Ali: Work, life and an Israeli passport stamp

M's advice columnist shares his favourite Arabic idioms, and answers questions about public schools, the UAE workforce, and the possible complications of an Israeli passport stamp.

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Dear Ali: Can you share some famous Arabic idioms? KWA, Fujairah

Dear KWA: There are hundreds if not thousands of Arabic idioms in various dialects. Here are four of my favourites:

Aah mennak (to a male) or Aah men-nech (to a female). Translation: "Aah, (from) you!" It's a joking complaint, and it means "Oh, God! What have you done?" or "Oh, you again". My aunt used to say it a lot when her little twins were naughty, but she would use the plural, Aah menn-kom.

Akher al anqood. Translation: "The last of the bunch of grapes". Said to the last member of the family, be it a boy or a girl, this is a term of endearment. The youngest child in the Arab family traditionally receives more attention and care than his or her older brothers and sisters.
Idha hadarat al mala'eka dhahabat al shayateen. Translation: "When angels come, devils run away". This is said as an amusing expression when someone on the way out meets someone else coming in.

Elle faat maat. Translation: "What is past is dead". This is said usually when you decide to change your position taken in an earlier argument, and you want others to ignore or not worry about your previous comment.

Dear Ali: What curriculum is used in the public schools in Abu Dhabi? LF, Abu Dhabi

Dear LF: Government schools used to have mostly an Arabic curriculum that was a mix of Egyptian, Kuwaiti and Syrian courses of study. Today they have more of an international mix.

But the education system is undergoing major reforms that include amendments to the curriculum, and the implementation of a different, didactic approach. For details, visit the website of the Abu Dhabi Education Council,

In addition to public schools Abu Dhabi has a wide choice of private schools that follow a variety of international curricula.

Dear Ali: What is the workforce like in Abu Dhabi? I live in America and am thinking about trying to find employment there. CH, Cleveland, Ohio

Dear CH: The UAE welcomes expatriates from all over the world who want to contribute their skills and knowledge to help develop our country. More than 200 nationalities live here together and the expat workforce makes up almost 80 per cent of the population.

Employment depends on your qualifications and area of expertise. There are also other opportunities, such as owning your own business.

You can find information about legal requirements and the laws governing foreign employment on the governmental portal of Abu Dhabi,

Dear Ali: Can I travel to the UAE with an Israeli stamp on my passport? JE, New York

Dear JE: Citizens of more than 30 countries, including the US, can get a visa on arrival in the UAE that will allow you to stay in the country for 30 days.

An Israeli stamp in your passport is not a problem, but other Gulf countries or Arab countries could refuse to admit you.

Language lesson

Arabic: Dahdaih

English: Quick

In the Emirati dialect, "Dahdaih, dahdaih" is like saying "Quickly, quickly" or "Hurry up, quick". When someone is doing something slowly you simply encourage him or her by saying "Dahdaih, dahdaih".