She was raised on South Huron Street on Wheeling Island as a member of the Chaney family, reared as a Roman Catholic, and is a graduate of Blessed Trinity, but she failed to see much to keep her in the Upper Ohio Valley after her 1991 commencement from Wheeling Park High School.
So Trishia Misk left the same as did many other high school graduates, but instead of reaching west to Columbus, east to Pittsburgh, or south for Charlotte or Myrtle Beach, Misk moved to Palm Beach, Fla., for one year before landing in the Middle East nine years before the 9/11 terror attacks changed opinions about that part of the world forever.
“In February 1992, I packed up all I could take on the plane and flew back to Wheeling to say goodbye to my family, and on Feb. 28, 1992, at the age of 20 years old, I left America to start a new life for myself,” she recalled. “I was offered a job in United Arab Emirates, and I was happy to make the move even though I knew next to nothing about life there. All I knew was that they spoke Arabic, and the religion was Islam. That was all I knew.”
And since then Misk found employment in a few different industries, but then she met her husband, Mohammad, a little more than a decade ago, and the couple now are parents to three children, and they operate a yacht charter company.
“I even ran a maternity clothing shop,” she said. “For the past six years my husband, and I have been providing anything from 35-foot boat for deep sea fishing trips to 121-foot luxury yacht cruises.
“The best thing I love about this country is it’s an amazing place to raise children. Yes, it’s a bit expensive, but the experience is well worth the money,” Misk insisted. “They have a wide variety of schools that can fit to any lifestyle as long as you have the money because all schools for expats are private.”
Her husband is Jordanian and was born and raised in Dubai, speaks English and Arabic, and his mother was an English teacher for 35 years. Their children, Ayah (8), Maya (6), and Moussa (3) were born in a hospital Misk believes to be superior to what is offered her in America.
“The girls attend a British-structured school that boasts Islamic values. I’m very proud of them; they are bilingual and can read and write in both English and Arabic,” she explained. “However, English is their first language, but for me being in a Muslim country is easy. We are not a strict religious family, but we have strong Muslim values and practices. My husband has memorized most of the Quran, and eldest daughter has memorized several chapters. That makes me proud. I’ve attended Islamic classes for seven years while living here, and it was the most uplifting experience.”
Misk understands that to most Americans living life in the Middle East seems daunting if not threatening for someone with western roots. That, though, is far from the truth she has discovered in Dubai.
“Since first coming to this part of the world, I’ve traveled to different Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, and Bahrain, and I’ve felt welcomed and safe in all of them,” she explained. “I did, however, feel a bit stressed once while in Lebanon in 1992, while I was staying in the south, and troops from Israel would do daily sweeps of gunfire in the open fields at to borders. But I quickly learned that was a common thing for people there.
“But the UAE is extremely welcoming and kind. We have people from all countries and religions living happily together,” Misk continued. “And everyone has mutual respect for one another. It’s not uncommon to see Catholic priests and nuns walking around in their religious attire. Honestly, it warms my heart.”
There are similarities and there are definitely differences, too, between her homeland and her adopted region of the world.
“In all except Kuwait and Saudi Arabia alcohol is permitted in certain establishments and, just like in America, open bottles in public are not allowed. Plus, there is no drinking and driving and everyone must act responsibly or that’s when they get in trouble,” Misk said. “People here are very into high fashion, but most still maintain modesty when in or around houses of worship. While on the beach or at the many hotel pools, it’s very common to see women in bikinis next to a woman fully covered. Their kids play together while the mums chat.
“Here in Dubai, as a woman, I’ve never been disrespected. In fact, it’s been just the opposite, and I feel safe and protected. I can go anywhere a man can go,” she explained. “Women are welcomed to work in any field the wish. The ruler of Dubai (his Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum) has a daughter that is now a commercial pilot. I can go out any time of day or night and feel safe.”
As an American, Misk has been questioned by her current colleagues about the country’s new presidents and the functions of the U.S. government.
“But most educated people know very well that in America the common person is different than the American government,” she said. “Americans are liked very much here because, as far as government policies, they know they do not speak for all Americans.
“I do, however, have to reassure people that living in America is not like the movies,” Misk said. “I tell them that, for the most part, Americans are hardworking and family-oriented people that have a strong sense of family values.”
She does miss her hometown although she opted to leave the Friendly City for an unknown adventure that transplanted Misk to a land that is more than 15 hours away via airplane, and nine hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. She continues to dream about buying the Wheeling Island house in which she spent her grade school years before her parents moved the family to the Elm Grove neighborhood, but she is pleased that family friend now owns it.
“When I was growing up there in Wheeling, I felt safe and loved, but as an adult it would be very different to raise my kids there,” she said. “Where I live now, we’ve not had to lock our doors ever, and we sleep peaceful all night long. I think it would be hard for my husband and kids to get used to the safety issues in America.
“The big thing I do miss is Di Carlo’s Pizza,” she said with a laugh. “I used to go back to Wheeling and Palm Beach a few times a year when I first moved here, and my family would come visit me here in Dubai, but over the years the trips get less and less. Now, it’s been nine years since my last trip home because, during those nine years I’ve had three children which makes it a bit of a long trip for the five of us,” she explained. “We often go to Thailand because the flying time is half and it’s our personal paradise, but now that my youngest has turned 3 years old, we’ve started planning to take a family trip to America very soon.
“It will be their first time, so I want the trip to make a good first impression,” Misk added. “From what I’ve been hearing about Wheeling lately, I believe they will be impressed with my hometown.”
(Photos provided by the Misk family)