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Dubai Aquarium, Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Beach Walk — Did I Mention How Uber-Rich Everyone Is?

Nduku has three sisters, each with at least one child. Najwa has a total of seven first cousins if you include my brother’s three children. She has dozens more second and distant cousins since Nduku has 20+ aunts and uncles. Family tree? Najwa has a family forest!

Of all the first cousins though, Alexander is the first one she met. Not that either of them will remember this moment, but it was good to introduce Najwa to her first first cousin. When we landed in Dubai around midnight, Alexander was asleep. The next morning when the cousins met, let’s just say they weren’t as excited to meet as we were for them to meet.

First Impressions

I was upstairs, shaking off jet lag, when I heard two impossibly loud explosions, two screaming children, two ear-piercing shrieks of two cousins who have no idea who the other was. We had no idea why they were yelling. We had even less of an idea how to calm them down. We gave up and separated them before child services showed up.

It was hilarious, to me. We had to get crafty in distracting them from each other, but they both wanted the same toys, the same spot in the house, the same undivided attention. When we got one to calm down, the other would whimper, then the other would cry, then the other would scream, then the other would explode…

Eventually, they got used to each other. Or ran out of energy to keep crying. We sure did run out of energy trying to soothe them!

Cousins in Dubai


But the calm didn’t always last. Nduku changed Najwa’s clothes, getting her ready for the day but when they came back downstairs, the cousins started competing in who can make the neighbors hear them first again! And they compete hard and loud. I had to take Najwa outside and work on my jet lag later.

Najwa at the Manjai Residence


One of Najwa’s favorite things to do was also one that was kind of unnerving. Back in Washington, DC, we don’t have stairs in our home. And the floors are either carpeted or hardwood floors which has a little give when she falls. In Dubai, not only do they have stairs, the stairs and floors are made of marble. There is no give with marble. But this morning, it was either let Najwa climb the stairs or look for some earplugs.

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