Interview with Mahnaz Hamesh, an Iranian woman who lives in Abu Dhabi, on her experience living in another country and how this has changed her.

Isabel Esteban:  How was it living in Iran?


Mahnaz Hamesh:

I had a lot of fun as well as difficult times. I enjoyed my childhood and teen age as well as college years more or less like any other person on the other side of the world. But the war (Iran/Iraq) and the sanctions had made our lives difficult at some point. Besides, the current regime has made some rules and regulations, which to my opinion are not fair. Dealing with those obstacles is sometimes hectic.


Isabel Esteban:  As a woman in Iran, was it difficult to go to college and to be taken seriously in your area of study?


Mahnaz Hamesh:

Not at all! Iran is very open about women education and career. We have the same number of female students as male. Iranians are not like some Arab countries in which women they don’t have some basic rights!


Isabel Esteban:  Why did you want to go to Abu Dhabi?


Mahnaz Hamesh:

I would love to experience the life away from my country. Besides there are so many social and political corruptions going on in Iran, would not allow me to live the life I want.


Isabel Esteban: How different is Iran and Abu Dhabi?


Mahnaz Hamesh:

UAE is a very small, usually warm and humid country, with less population. Iran is a big country, with very different climates and is very populated. Tehran (the capital, where I used to live) is a big city full of life and of course traffic and pollution is the side effect of it. Abu Dhabi is a small city, much calmer.


Isabel Esteban: Since you left Iran, in your point of view, has it changed in any way the roll of women in society?


Mahnaz Hamesh:

I think women are getting to know better how to ask for their rights all over the world these days and my country is not an exception. In terms of career, they have always been allowed to work outside of the house, obviously with the difficult economic situation more women tend to work outside the house these days to help the family.


Isabel Esteban: If you had a chance to live in Iran would you go?


Mahnaz Hamesh:




Isbael Esteban: Has it been difficult to live in Abu Dhabi?


Mahnaz Hamesh:

Yes, I have been through a lot of ups and downs here.


Isabel Esteban: If you had a chance to live in any part of the world where would it be? Why?


Mahnaz Hamesh:

UAE is a very nice place to live in for so many reasons, but there is always a huge discrimination in terms of social or career opportunities among different nationalities. Besides, as an expat you never get a permanent residency or nationality here even if you lived all your life here. If I had a stronger passport I would have loved to live here for good.



Isabel Esteban: What difference can you see between living in Iran and living in Abu Dhabi?


Mahnaz Hamesh:

There is more social freedom here. Life is not as hectic as Tehran as here is a more quiet, relaxed country.  But Tehran is a four-season city; we see proper spring, summer, and fall and winter weather. Here it hardly rains and it is hot and humid for most of the year. In Iran, you have more options of travelling and doing lots of outdoor recreation. This is very limited in the UAE.


by: Isabel Elena Esteban


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