Habibi and I are not noted for our forward planning, but after over a decade here in Dubai even we thought some sort of exit strategy might be called for, so we scratched our heads and came up with - a date! Impressive, huh?
Habibi does that 24/7 thing that they don’t warn you about at entrepreneur school; but I make up for this with a frivolous part-time occupation called teaching, which, as everybody knows, is all about the holidays. So I picked 07.07.07, or about twenty minutes after the end of the next academic year. Habibi liked it, and thus was born the beginning of The Plan.
Next question: where should we go? Having been disappointed in his hopes of being a kept man by the age of forty two (I have no idea where this came from, but he claims I promised. See what he has to put up with? A dilettante and a fibber!) anyway - Habibibi wanted to move somewhere with a sufficiently developed economy to guarantee demand for his finely honed skills in developing and delivering fab websites on time and within budget (Did I cover everything, honey? – oh –) with proper support and other stuff… (OK - that will have to do….) and where 24/7 actually pays. I wanted to go to Oz and be a permaculture Earth Gardener in a strawbale house with solar power; grow fruit trees, fruit bushes, vegetables and flowers sustained by mulch, green compost, stored rainwater and recycled domestic water; and have chooks, duckies and a house cow. Habibi liked this too because he’s got secret hippy leanings and actually got involved with Liverpool's Rice Lane City Farm, and later with an experimental housing project long before I’d heard of such things. (This article about reduced funding for the farm explains its importance to the local community.)
So: Australia. I liked the look of the area around Adelaide, with its lively arts and sports scene, varied geography and vineyards. Habibi thought we’d do better in Perth or Sydney. Habibibaba didn’t mind because he was growing up fast, and the world would soon be the mollusc of his choice. We were getting quite excited; and then I went online at one of those evaluation sites, and discovered (at the age of forty-four-and-a-bit) that if you’re over 45 you get nul points on the immigration grid unless you’ve got Ozzie blood relatives, or more money than we have, and/or intend to employ more Oztrelians than we’re going to. So that sort of fizzled out.
Still, Oz is even further than the UAE from everyone we love, and distance has been a source of much sadness over the years, so part of me had no problem with the inozpitality of Oz. And Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Baz Luhrmann, Heath Ledger, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue, and all those sportsmen with the funny shaped balls, dreams of ashes etc. etc. have come out to play Up Top; and I can still get the excellent permaculture and sustainable-living books and magazines online, and apply them someplace else. We’ll get over it!