By Ahmed Al Hashemi
The words ‘aib’ and ‘mangood’ are words you learn at a young age when you grow up in an Arab household. Roughly translated, they mean ‘shame’ or ‘shameful’ — something that society in general frowns upon. These issues range from not respecting your elders to visiting your grandma wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
One issue that is frowned upon by many, or is considered ‘aib’, is the decision of a son or daughter to live outside the family residence. This is especially true if they are unmarried, or are not working in a different city, which would logically mean that they would need to live closer to their employer as opposed to commuting for hours on end both ways. While in some societies this would be a natural choice, and seen as a good way to teach them independence and decision-making, many Arab families see it as something out of the norm. From what I have noticed, this goes for both males and females (though some may argue that females have it worse). While I can’t speak to that, I can speak about my own personal experience.
“Whenever someone finds out about my living situation, they always seem shocked and start asking questions with raised eyebrows.”
Since I was a child, I have always wanted to have my own place to live in. It did not matter how big or small it was, as long as it was someplace I could call my own. After many years of living with my family, not just during my childhood and adolescence, but also throughout my early adulthood, I decided it was time to branch out. This was not due to some familial friction or some rift between my family and me; I just felt like it was time for a change in my life.
Obviously, my parents were not happy with my decision, but they eventually learned to accept it. However, whenever someone finds out about my living situation, they always seem shocked and start asking questions with raised eyebrows. It seems like such a foreign concept to them— an adult who was living alone— even though he was not married and his whole family lived in the same city.
I think that encouraging young adults to branch out and to learn how to handle responsibilities on their own can only improve our society. They will learn how to pay bills, budget for their households and make decisions on their own without having to refer to human instruction manuals (a.k.a their parents or elders) every time.
My experience living alone has taught me to stick to my convictions even if those closest to me disagree. There were also the added experiences of furnishing the house and buying the necessary appliances. When you are responsible for your own house (as opposed to just being limited to your own room) you learn to prioritise things differently.
This is by no means a blanket statement, but there are many people who walk through life feeling entitled; they feel entitled to special treatment by everyone they interact with, they enter the workforce and end up indirectly demanding to be coddled and have their hands held throughout their careers. This can lead to impaired judgments and decision-making skills. It may seem extreme to say this, but part of the reason, in my opinion, is the way that they are treated at home. Grown adults whose responsibility is only limited to their bedrooms and personal expenses can have an underdeveloped sense of maturity and responsibility, and can be what I call ‘semi-independent’.
“I think that encouraging young adults to branch out and to learn how to handle responsibilities on their own can only improve our society.”
Sometimes, pushing your children out of their comfort zone and yours is not as bad a decision as you might think. Just because they no longer inhabit the familial nest does not necessarily mean that they are out of their loved ones’ lives.
The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees, and affiliates.
Ahmed Al Hashemi is a 35-year-old Emirati storyteller and blogger living in Abu Dhabi. He is interested in human resources and enjoys watching TV shows, travelling and making observations about life.