It has been a little bit over six months since I moved to Abu Dhabi. Aside from the neck and back issues now and then, which I really can't blame Abu Dhabi for, my stay here has gone fairly well. The heat and humidity has not really affected me as much as I expected. There were times, when my neck was bugging me, that the extreme conditions added to the misery of neck discomfort.
The positives: Work that is not as stressful as in previous positions, great living conditions, and compensation and benefits are fairly competitive. There are no expenses to speak of except for the occasional dinners and weekend meals. The completely furnished, 3-bedroom apartment is cleaned and bed linens changed every other day; towels are replaced daily; garbage cleaned out daily; bath soap, shampoo, lotion, bottled water, coffee, tea, and creamer are replenished as needed; internet service (although not the fastest) is free; and all other utilities are covered. A nice vehicle is provided free of charge, including insurance and maintenance every 3000 miles. Fuel is free if it's filled up in the base. Meals, snacks, and beverages are free in the base. The dining fare inside the base is not too bad with a host of selections of snack food, salads, soups, sandwiches, grill orders, main courses, and desserts. Dry cleaning and laundry/ironing services are also free inside the base. So my laundry duties in my apartment are only for undergarments, socks, and t-shirts. Everything else get sent in for washing and ironing. If you're frugal enough, you do not need to pay for any significant expenses except for the occasional dinners out or day trips outside Abu Dhabi.
The negatives: Since it is a small office (usually only two people) to oversee a host of projects and the contractors work six day work week, I usually put in a six day work week. Leading to the fiscal year end of 30 September, I had to work on my days off also to award new projects. Again, because it is a small office, it is difficult to find time off for vacation during the summer months.
At work, we are basically on our own. The Area Engineer works mostly at home and spends a lot of time traveling. The Resident Engineer has been reassigned to another location. So I have been acting as a Resident Engineer for our small office. I wanted to avoid this when I accepted this position. But since we are a small office and I am the only engineer, I get to do the RE duties as well as project engineer duties by default. I also do my share of construction representative duties to help out when coverage is lacking. Once in a while, they will send construction representatives from other areas to help out temporarily.
It should be a fairly slow November, December, and January, work-wise. I plan to take full advantage of this. I have a trip planned to the Philippines in late October thru early November. I will probably go to Europe during Thanksgiving week and Seattle during the Christmas holiday. In between, there are a few local holidays that I can probably take off for trips around the Middle East -- first on the list is Cairo. I have some training scheduled for DC and San Diego in the middle part of 2011. So I should be okay as far as time off and travel holidays.
I have no real problem working here a bit longer. I can easily do another 6 months, or even longer. But I am always keeping my eyes open for opportunities back in Europe and possibly in Japan or Korea. And if that opportunity is attractive, I will not hesitate go after it.