This morning passport in hand I accompanied Kevin on one more step towards settling down to normal life in Dubai, getting me a cash card for our bank account. Only its not quite as simple as all that. I am here because my husband sponsors me to be here. Images of slavery, servitude, apprenticeship or to use a good old English phrase "goods and chattels" come to mind. So we arrive at the branch of a well known four lettered bank down at Gate 2 for the port of Jebel Ali, a short drive from home (it's located there as its in the free zone and therefore I think, not subject to quite the same legal requirements as an Emirati bank).
This being Dubai, it is not going to be a bank appointment quite like any other I've experienced. Having checked in at reception, a middle aged Indian tea-boy offers us coffee and we settle down in their comfy tub chairs with our tiny paper cups and today's Gulf News, a copy apiece. After twenty minutes or so a smiling young lady in abaya and headscarf greets us and leads us to her office. Kevin explains his two pieces of business and she talks to him a in the manner of a doctor conversing with the relatives of a sick patient - I'm present but can not be involved. I definitely feel like a second-class citizen and it is not a good sensation. A matter simple form filling and signing changes the credit card payments to 100% each month, Kevin doesn't even have to complete all of the fields in the form as they "have the details on record sir", just sign and date with the relevant box ticked.
I cannot though it transpires, have a cash card for Kevin's current account nor can that account become a joint one. In order to sort this conundrum out a new joint account must be opened that is subservient to his current account. Her face showed her thoughts when Kevin turned to me and said "no worries you can access the internet banking so can transfer money to it easily anyway". The form for opening a joint account is proffered for him to complete "just your wife's details sir". She is even more dismayed when he pushes it along the desk for me to complete with the excuse that my handwriting is better than his! I duely start to work my way through the multi-paged form sticking to the second account holder column. No employer? In that case I am a "house wife" as per my residency, the rebel in me was tempted to write "D. Eng. (rtd)" (if you don't know what this means you are probably male!).
It is permitted to supply my own mobile phone number and physical address as well as Dell's PO Box. I tick the box for a cash card then both of us sign and date the form. In a rare acknowledgement of my presence in Dubai the company the handles the distribution of the cards will apparently call me to arrange delivery at some unspecified point in the future. And, it appears that when I use said card both Kevin and I will get an SMS detailing the transaction which I suppose is a step forward on our credit card that only informs Kevin when I use it!