The Good Girls of Al Noor
Linda Keteyian, author
Meet Maha. She’s small, she’s cute and she’ll steal your heart right before she gets you fired for not helping her to like science. No need to go straight into a panic, eleven-year-old Mariam S. will affirm your efforts to Miss Shaima, the social worker and Maha’s ninth-grade sister, both of whom wield equal power. Your Arabic doesn’t need to be great, probably better if it’s not, you don’t really want to know what the girls are shouting at you. This is a grade six classroom in Abu Dhabi, and we do things differently in the sand box. “The Good Girls of Al Noor”, tells the story of a group of women learning to navigate the emotional challenges of a servant culture, one that remains a mystery to most in the West. I’ll take you into the captivating world of The United Arab Emirates where the tea is spiced with flakes of real gold and a middle-class teacher can share the road with Bentley’s driven by princes. The UAE is a place of contradictions where a westerner can wear a bikini on the beach but get arrested for swearing in public. Based on my experience as a teacher in the UAE, it is a memoir of a moment in time. In this place my friends and I depended on each other like family and often behaved as family in ways both good and, well, not so good. I have changed most of the names to protect the privacy of those who remain in the Emirates. Our lives were a battle to rationalize our desire to enjoy the jet setting lifestyle afforded us by lucrative teaching contracts without losing our sense of western principals. The choice was always whether or not to succumb to the lure of self-indulgence while turning a blind eye to the suffering of those deemed less important by Emirati standards. Is it really so wrong to just have a little fun? Who would we be once this journey was over and we returned to our home countries? It is my hope that as you read you will feel a part of this experience, it was just too life changing to keep to myself. Join these unique women as they find their way with a little grace, a few tears and a lot of humor.