The day before I was to depart for Dubai, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a sinus infection, chest congestion, and strep throat. Stress? Maybe. I was immediately put on cough medicine full of Codeine and prescribed antibiotics. And needless to say, I felt like crap.
As my mom and dad drove me to the airport, I sat in the back seat rereading my “Mobilization Information For New Staff”. The 8th checkmark under Additional Suggestions read: Check the UAE Ministry of Health website at www.moh.gov.ae to get the latest information in relation to inoculations and the list of medications and over the counter products which may be easily purchased in your country, but be prohibited (yes, bolded) in the UAE. Many common cold and cough remedies, which you might assume to be harmless (such as Nyquil), are not allowed.
I struggled to sit up in the back seat and tell my dad, “Pull into the next drug store.”
After purchasing a travel-sized shampoo bottle, my mom carefully poured the cough medicine into it. Through my medicine-induced clouded mind, the thought came, “I am so going to jail.”
Boarding the plane, I approached a friendly looking Arab man and questioned him about my cough medicine and pills. He looked at me as if I was a paranoid American. Um, hello? “You’ll be fine,” he said, “Mafi Mushkalah.” (This I learned later was the Emirati’s reply to everything; the American equivalent to “No Problem”. More on this later; definitely more. You will be surprised at what elicits the answer of, “Mafi Mushkalah”).
I’m sure I looked a bit strange on the flight over taking shots from my shampoo bottle. Mafi Mushkalah.