Meet Dimah (aka Juliet), a 20 twenty-year-old senior business student at the American University of Sharjah. Half Emirati and half Palestinian, she is the second youngest of five girls and grew up attending her father’s schools in Abu Dhabi. She went through the British school system until she was in high school, at which point she shifted to the American school system (“honestly, it was the easier of the two”). Eager to follow in her sisters’ footsteps, she applied and was accepted to AUS as a business major, in preparation for taking over her father’s schools someday. Like many of us, she struggled when first entering university and crawled her way back up to a 3.8 GPA after nearly flunking her first semester.
Q: So you’re a theatre minor as well, what inspired you to do that?
A: I’ve been into theatre since I was a kid and being involved in the arts is a way for me to escape away from the corporate business world. I usually am a stage manager or tech person, until this semester, whereas you know I am playing Juliet.
Q: As someone who has traveled to other parts of the world, what sets the UAE apart from the places you’ve visited?
A: The more I travel the more respect I have for the UAE, there are just things I’m not comfortable with abroad. Like for example, when I went to Russia it was so hard to change in the fitting rooms because it’s not gender segregated. Especially since I’m a hijabi now I just am not comfortable with risking a man seeing so much skin. I also appreciate how educated the country is and how so many people can speak English and it is easier for others to travel here. I also find the UAE much friendlier to tourists, people are excited to see tourists and we want to share our culture. But when we were in Paris no cabs would stop for my Mom — who wears a hijab — but everyone would stop for my sisters who didn’t wear it. All that being said, I do miss all the natural plants and beauty of Europe because all we have back here is desert and fake plants.
Q: What differences do you see between the Emirati half of your family and the Palestinian half?
A: Arab culture is generally very family oriented, and that is true to both sides of my family. The Palestinian side is more patriotic and merit focused, while my Emirati part is focused on poise and presentation, making sure I am proud of who I am. But other than that there isn’t that strong of a difference between the two.