An Ending Begins

We have 8 days left in the UAE.

The last week has gone by in a blur as I zipped from place to place after invigilation (which ought instead to be called supervised cheating) at school. But it’s Friday, the weekend is upon us, and I’m ensconced in the Hili Rayhaan hotel, comfortably in a king-sized bed, having spent the morning at a leisurely breakfast and then in the pool. There was even a nap this afternoon. Things are looking up.

Here is what happens at the end of working for ADEC. Unsurprisingly, the resignation procedure is much the same as the arrival procedure, only reversed.

The steps are: wait wait wait wait wait for your resignation (which you submitted in the online system well within the official window of time) to be approved, then wait wait wait wait wait wait some more.

Then with about a month of work left, it’s approved and things start moving quickly.

If you’re me, you print a form that you obtained from someone not your principal (who is supposed to have received said form in his email, but may not be aware of it, or perhaps he was just not at work on the day it was sent). You fill this form out, and then you have to collect about seven signatures from various departments at ADEC headquarters (called “The Zone” around here).

You make a trip to The Zone to get the next couple of signatures, because they’re mostly a formality.

Then you wait a bit, because you’re hung up getting clearance forms (haven’t you heard of those? They’re forms which officially show that you’ve paid your bills and haven’t got any outstanding balance) from the combined power and water company (Al Ain Distribution Company). This requires a visit to one of the AADC places in town. I’d suggest the Al Ain Mall one, or perhaps the Hili Mall one (which is never busy). If you go to the big headquarters near The Zone, you’ll probably wait forever and a half day. Anyway, the process takes a couple of days. You request a final meter reading and clearance certificate, AADC sends you a text message as acknowledgement, and then, if things go correctly, you get a second message to say you’re all set. From prior experience, I can tell you if that message doesn’t come after two days, go visit an AADC office and ask for an update. This all means getting the AADC clearance takes a couple days. Then you’ll need an Etisalat (phone and internet) clearance form, too, and that company forces you to visit the large, crowded, slow office in Sanaiya to get a clearance letter, although it bears noting that you can get service cancelled at several other locations (such as Bawadi Mall). Again, the clearance from takes a couple of days or more. If you’re me, you make no less than eight trips to Etisalat to get this done, and you still have to go collect the form another time.

After you have your AADC clearance form, you can get your apartment inspected. We pay 180 AED to the apartment manager because one of our screens has a dime-sized hole in it (and it might indeed be our fault, so no problem), then he prints a letter declaring that you’re all set, but in iffier English than that. You take this letter down to The Zone and collect another signature.

By now, you’ve dropped off and then collected, a couple days later, your dependents’ passports at the Infinity Services window in ADEC so they can type up visa cancellation forms for you (saving a few bucks), and you take these passports a few buildings over to immigration and have them cancel the visas. You need to show your own original passport, Emirates ID, and work visa there. The guy in a kandora behind the counter glances at your stuff, then stamps the dependents’ pink visas with red ink which seems to read “cancelled” in Arabic. He also collects their Emirates IDs. A couple moments later a text message arrives from the Ministry of the Interior notifying you of the cancelations. This means your cleared for the next step: having your own visa cancelled. This means I turn in my Emirates ID (bye, little card!) and passport for a day.

The next day, I collect my passport, and the guys older guy sitting in his chair takes a box of passports with paperwork attached to them from a locked cabinet. He looks at my picture carefully, at me, back at the picture, and is smiling and the other guy is laughing.  Then they tell me how somebody else who looked kind of like me picked it up earlier in the day. “Same name,” they said, but I’d be floored if there’s a second Shon Rand running around Al Ain. Regardless, my passport is in my hand, and I can collect another signature on my all-important form. So I do.

And I proceed to housing, where I need another signature. That’s fairly easy. He directs me to hand over another copy of my AADC clearance, and then take copies to the Abu Dhabi Commercial Properties building downtown to get my housing deposit back. I notice it’s almost 3 o’clock, and it’s Thursday, and figure I won’t find anyone there if I go now, so I decide to wait until Sunday for that.

As it turns out, I need to make another trip to ADEC anyway, because I need that Etisalat clearance form which I haven’t got yet in order to submit my super-duper important form to the last people–payroll, who will calculate up my End of Service (EOS) payment.

Thus, over the period of about 9 days, an ending has begun. There is very little left to be done, and hopefully it will all be knocked out on Sunday. There has been a bit of stress, like there was in the beginning, but it’s been tempered by knowledge that things move slowly here, especially when you hope they’ll go fast. We have only 8 days left in the UAE. Wow.

Authentication Revisited

Part of the deal with working here in the UAE was getting a whole slew of documents authenticated.  The authentication process is annoying and overcomplicated, but it is necessary.  So I bit the bullet and did it.

If you go through a company like Teach Away, they’ll help walk you through the process.  It’s not really all that difficult, in truth, just annoying.

Teach Away recommends ProEx Courier Service to deliver and pickup documents from the Embassy in DC.  I used them and had no issues at all; they were fast and efficient.

As far as the individual documents go that you’ll need authenticated, that depends on where you’re from and whether you’re married, have children, etc.  We needed our marriage certificate done, my highest diploma, and a couple other things.  I covered all that before, so I won’t go into it in detail.  The irritating part is doing it at three levels, which is where ProEx enters the scene–they’ll deliver documents from the Department of State in DC to the UAE Embassy there, saving you a long trip and a few days in between.

Do the authentication early so it’ll be stress-free, and then just wait.

Once arriving in the UAE, you have to get those authenticated documents translated into Arabic.  Bargain, or ask around for the best rate.  The place that ADEC uses (Infinity Services) actually increases their fee for ADEC teachers.  If you arrive in Abu Dhabi and take documents to them, be sure not to tell them you’re with ADEC.  If you do, they’ll say, “Special price!”  Yeah, special, alright.  We have “sucker” written all over us.  It shouldn’t cost more than 60 AED for documents to be interpreted, so be aware.  There are plenty of “typing offices” that will interpret for the price I mentioned.

When you get your documents interpreted in the UAE, also have your driver’s license done.  If you’ve got any special endorsements, such as motorcycle, be sure to note that and ask that they include that in the translation, or else you won’t get that endorsement on your UAE license (which is good for a full 10 years, by the way).

Flexible Pricing and Cheap Translation

Flexible pricing is one of the odd things to be aware of here in Abu Dhabi.  Even big, shiny, reputable looking companies do it.  Case in point: the company that we were recommended (Let’s call them IfS; the name has been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty alike). They don’t have prices for some of their services posted anywhere. I have, like several others, paid 110 dirhams per document for translation services. I also paid 200 dirhams to have my marriage certificate attested. Yesterday I left my driver’s license with them to get it interpreted, again paying 110 dirhams, which is what I paid for the marriage certificate translation.

I have since discovered that there are also several people who got things translated for 60 dirhams and attested for 150 by the very same folks in the very same establishment. That’s a considerable difference in pricing, with no difference in service or explanation for the discrepancy.

IfS is also not the most affordable place around (at least not when they decide to charge folks the higher prices). There is talk about a place on Hamdan Street behind the Etisalat building (that would be the one with the golf ball on top, if you know AD) which translates for 75 dirhams per document. Other folks tell about getting a quantity discount because they went in a group. A reliable source tells me that the driver’s license facility actually will translate it while you wait for 60 dirhams.


Here’s the moral of the story, kids: ask around about pricing for services, and insist on the lower prices if you hear of a place which, like IfS, has flexible pricing. Sadly for me, I didn’t know that other folks were having things done more cheaply until I’d already paid up front for the service.

As a sort of footnote, don’t underestimate the helpfulness of the hotel concierge, either. The concierge can give advice on a wide range of things. It’s very possible that the concierge could have recommended a place that would be reliable and more affordable for these services. One of my colleagues got a laptop fixed very cheaply because the concierge steered him in the best direction.

When it comes down to it, the 420 dirhams ($114.50) that I’ve paid for having my license translated and marriage certificate both attested and interpreted isn’t just totally outrageous. I mean, Jenia is worth that much to me and then some, and I’ve got to have this stuff done in order to get her here. But if you make this journey, bear my words in mind, because you might save some hard-earned cash if you are a bit more savvy than me.

How to Bring Your Wife to the Emirates, Part I

It costs a little money.  Not a lot, but enough that you should plan on it.  Basically, Jenia needs all the things that I needed–passport photos, copies of her passport, and a couple of other documents.  Here’s how to go about it if you’re an ADEC teacher and your spouse is following you.

1) Have the marriage certificate that you got authenticated in the USA attested and translated.  Infinity Services, in the Marina Mall in Dubai (and other places) is a good reputable place.  It costs 210 dirhams for the attestation and 100 for the translation.

2) Follow the instructions that ADEC provides.  If you’re unaware of those, the gist is this: fill out an application online, then, after that is approved, provide original documents to ADEC.  They’ll get a visa prepared.

3) The last step is a medical exam, followed by submitting your spouse’s passport to ADEC so that they can put the final visa in it.

The prevailing wisdom is to get #1 done right away, since it might not take very long for us to get our passports back, and if step #1 is already complete, the rest is pretty easy (or at least so I’m told).

I’ll write another entry after I get to experience more of the process.

Infinity Services is found on the Lower Basement level of the Marina Mall, below the Paris Gallery.


Thursday’s List: Important Documents

Teach Away tells us that we’re to take our authenticated documents (the cause of much hair-pulling, sleep-losing stress for many folks) with us when we head to the Emirates in August.  They also tell us to take original documents, because the originals will be needed, which makes me wonder why we go through all the hassle of authenticating anything, really.  But I’m sure there’s a reason, even if it’s just making money for the various agencies the documents must go through.  In my case, the list of documents to take looks like this:

1) Authenticated teaching certificate

2) Authenticated Master’s degree

3) Authenticated original marriage certificate

4) Original teaching certificate

5) Original Master’s degree

6) Original marriage certificate

7) Letter from Board of Education stating that I did, in fact, work for the school I claim to have worked for

Besides these documents, I am to take a bunch of passport sized photos which will be used for a variety of things in the UAE.

8) At least eight passport sized photos

So I’ll put all these things in a heavy cardboard envelope and carry them with me.  But let’s stop and talk about item number 5 for a moment.  The Master’s degree.  What a minor pain.  See, it’s hanging on my office wall. Hanging there in a nice frame, I might add, professionally matted, quite costly.  It looks nice.  And I really don’t want to take the backing off and dismantle the frame in order to take it out.

Now I have a funny story about my other degree–my BA from Emmanuel College.  It’s also framed and hanging on the wall, and looks very nice, too.  It says, among other things, that I “satisfactorily completed the course of study….Summa Cum Laude.”  The funny part is that EC actually had a typo in a number of diplomas.  Mine was one of them.  Shortly after receiving it, a buddy of mine named Mike asked me if I found the problem with it.  I scanned it, seeing nothing.  “Really?” He said. “You’re an English major.  I figured you’d spot it right away.”  He pointed to the word “satisfactorily.”  Only then did I notice that the word was missing a letter.  According to my degree, and his, and probably everyone else’s, I’d “satifactorily completed” my course work.  He was on the way to get the registrar to reprint his degree without any spelling mistakes.  I joined him.  The registrar was and is a wonderful, sweet woman, and she was very apologetic, and murmured something about how many of these had been printed that way.  Right after Mike had his reprinted, she stuck a piece of classy looking paper in the printer, ran off a new diploma with the spelling fixed, affixed a couple of snazzy golden stickers to it, and handed it to me.  “Do you want to keep the old one?” She said.  I grinned.  “Sure,” I said.  I’ve still got the old one, and I get a grin out of it whenever I open up the filing cabinet and come across it.  Now, this story is made funnier when I tell you that I graduated Magna Cum Laude, with a 3.9 average.  I missed Summa by a hair.  It wasn’t until I returned home that I noticed my new corrected diploma indicated a higher degree of honor than I actually obtained.  More laughing.  Maybe Mike was a better student than I was, and he’d graduated Summa, and the lady forgot to change that when she printed mine.  I don’t know.  Anyway, “I’m not going to go back and have her fix this,” I told my mom. “Who’s going to worry about it?”  To this day, hardly anyone has even commented that it says Summa Cum Laude in the first place.  Everything is spelled properly, anyway.

So bearing in mind my EC experience with the ease of printing a new diploma, I figured I’d contact Piedmont College and ask whether I could obtain a replacement diploma.  I got a friendly girl named Megan when I called the registrar’s office yesterday.

“I’m moving to the middle east to work, and they need me to take my original diploma,” I explained.

“Did you lose yours, or was it destroyed somehow?” She asked.

“Actually, heh, it’s hanging on my office wall in a frame that cost a hundred and some-odd dollars,” I told her.  “I really don’t want to take it out, so I thought I might just get another one, if that’s even possible.”  I know it’s possible, and I know, based on my EC experience, that it takes about two minutes.  Actually, considering that my PC diploma is rather plain next to the EC one (no stickers!), it might take even less time than that.  But I don’t know how willing colleges are to do this simple task for folks who didn’t have theirs printed with a mistake, or perhaps burned in a house fire, or eaten by somebody doing bath salts.

“Let me go talk to the registrar and see what we can do,” she said, obligingly.  In a moment she was back on the line.  “We can print you a new one.  What you’ll have to do is send a letter explaining why you need it, with your signature.  And,” she paused, then continued apologetically, “Include a check for a hundred dollars.”

I laughed and she did, too.

“That’s about what I paid for the framing,” I said.

“I know,” she replied.

“Let me talk to the wife and we’ll figure out what to do,” I told her. “Thanks for your help.”

$100?  Really?  Guess we can’t have people running around with too many duplicate copies of their degrees, now, can we?  Maybe I’d be willing to cough up $50 or so, just to avoid the hassle of tearing the framed one out and having to re-frame it later.  But $100? Heck, a hundred bucks isn’t that much compared to tuition (not by a long shot!).  But it seems like rather a lot for a piece of paper that doesn’t even have the snazzy golden seals that my EC diploma has.

Oh, well.  The wife and I agree: let’s see if we can get the one on the wall out of the frame.