How a lively group of women in Dubai revels in esprit de corps.
It is 6 pm and the scorching summer heat of Dubai has started to subside. There is haze in the air as the humidity soars. Roads are busy with office-goers returning home. Cafés and restaurants are getting packed with customers. It is amid these end-of-the-day activities that Dubai’s parks start coming alive. Children of different age groups arrive at their neighborhood parks with water bottles, footballs, and cricket kits. Some children ride bicycles, others come on scooters.
It is common for their mothers to accompany them after an exhausting day of work at the office or running errands at home, giving them a chance to unwind quietly away from the din and rattle of daily life. Their conversations center around children, fashion trends and the best salons in the town.
Amid laughter and playfulness of children, these women, hailing from different countries including India, Pakistan, and the conflict-ridden state of Jammu and Kashmir, present an ideal example of harmony and peace. Between them, there are no boundaries or divisions, no politics or hatred. They share life, laughter, and pain.
Talking to these women, one feels how humanity can never be taken over by politics.
“We have never felt any distinction between Pakistani women and those from India, Kashmir, or any other place. Our differences don’t exist,” says 34-year-old Samar, a sales associate in Dubai. Samar hails from of India.
Every day after work, she brings her two daughters, 8 and 6, to play with other children.
“As our children enjoy playing around, I sit and chat with other moms. I can rely on each of these women like I would on my own sister,” says summer with a glint in her eyes.
Amina, 29, from Jammu and Kashmir, was anxious about interacting with the members of the group during her early days in Dubai.
“India and Pakistan have been at odds over Kashmir for many years. When I first saw women grouping and making friends together, I was astonished,” says Amina.
“Back home in Kashmir, no woman could imagine that Indian and Pakistani women could share such a close bond,” she says.
“As I joined the group and started interacting with them, I became more open-minded. It dawned on me that we are all one. Political figures make it all look dirty,” says Amina who moved to the UAE in 2016 and now works for a real estate company.
“When I told my family back home about how well all communities are connected here, they were amazed. I now buy gifts for my Indian and Pakistani friends whenever I travel to Kashmir.”
Shazia, 37, remembers her first day in Dubai seven years ago. She was missing her social life, family, and friends.
“I would stay at home all day, lonely and missing my social circle back in Kashmir. Then one day, while on my evening walk, I met a Pakistani woman who thought I was also from Pakistan,” says Shazia.
They chatted and exchanged numbers. Gradually, they enjoyed going for evening walks and talking on the phone.
“I started feeling better and would wait for evenings to meet her. She then introduced me to her group of friends. I was surprised how much I was welcomed,” she says.
These women’s friendship extends beyond their evening gatherings. They lend a helping hand to one another when in need.
“When it is needed, we babysit for each other. If anyone needs help, we will go out of our way to see what we can do. We all know we are a family here, “says Ayesha, a Pakistani.
Another member of the group is Razia who is from Afghanistan. She is popular for hosting regular parties at her home.
“We know about each other much more than our nationalities. We try each other’s recipes and dress styles. We celebrate our national days together. Our children are best friends,” chuckles 40-year-old Razia who has been raised in Dubai.
While some women in the group are working professionals, many are running small businesses. They help each other secure customers, share business ideas and help in whichever way they can.
32-year-old Aliya from Pakistan recently started her babysitting service. She gives all the credit to her Indian friend Poonam for guiding and encouraging her.
Poonam has been involved in babysitting services for 5 years.
“When I told my friends I need some extra means of income, they gave me a lot of ideas and showed so much support. And when I decided to start my babysitting business, Poonam would actually send her customers to me so I could take off,” says Aliya.
The women say they try to make each other financially independent, without harboring any jealousy.
“We try to empower each other in small ways. And this is what has kept us going so far,” they say in unison.
As for the political situation between India and Pakistan, the women say the people of both countries do not hate one another. They believe politicians sow the seeds of hatred.
“We all know that people have no fault. It is the politics that is dividing the countries and the people,” the women agree.
“Here, we all work and live together. You can’t tell the difference. This is what the world needs to see.”
Meanwhile, the air starts getting cooler as the sun begins to sink into the horizon.
The vivacious group of women and their children gather their belongings to get back home.
They hug and say goodnight wishes, only to meet again the next day for another relaxing-chatty evening together.