Brown Mom Abroad: An Interview with an Abu Dhabi Mom

I’m so excited to begin this interview series!

While living abroad I’ve noticed that brown faces within expatriate groups and organizations are somewhat rare. Especially in the “Mommy Groups” I’ve been connected to since becoming a Mother in 2011. One of the main reasons I started Brown Mom Abroad was to show another side to expat living, a more colorful side!

Just today, I came across a Facebook comment on a photo of a group of brown woman enjoying dinner in Hong Kong (I was in the photo) that read: Ok so am I shallow enough to wonder how there’s so many black ppl. In Hong Kong lol. Comments like these are no surprise to me. Most people have no idea that the expat community is quite diverse.

In this Brown Moms Abroad Interview Series I truly hope to show the diversity of mothers and families living abroad.

Ronali, Abu Dhabi

I first met Ronali in 2009 at our first Thanksgiving dinner in Abu Dhabi. Ironically, the hosts of Thanksgiving Dinner were from Australia #expatlife. Shameless plug: Ronali loved my deviled eggs 🙂

I wouldn’t have guessed how creative, kind, thoughtful and loving she was during our first interaction. She is one of few mothers I’m happy I had the opportunity to observe prior to becoming a Mommy!

Ronali is happily married with two young daughters. She has another baby on the way and shares her apologies for her very short answers. I believe Ronali growing a child in her womb =  the ultimate 3 word answer PASS 😉

I’m excited to introduce her as the first Mom in this interview series: Brown Moms Abroad.

Ronali, Abu Dhabi

BMA: Where were you born?

Ronali: United Arab Emirates

BMA: What Languages do you speak?

Ronali: English & Singhalese

BMA: What city or country is your favorite place to visit and why?

Ronali: I don’t have a favorite, but I’ve loved visiting Australia, the UK, Bangkok and the States because we’ve got family and close friends who live there.

Ronali, Abu Dhabi

BMA: What city or country was your worst place to visit and why?

Ronali: Don’t have a worst place.

BMA: Is there any city or country that you have absolutely no desire to visit? Why?

Ronali: Perhaps a place that’s in the middle of a war?

BMA: Can you list all the places you’ve lived and how many years in each place?

Ronali: UAE 30ish years. Sri Lanka 1.5 years (straight after high school and then I returned to the UAE)

BMA: Have you experienced discrimination for being brown while traveling abroad? Can you elaborate on your experience?

Ronali: In a few countries or cities…A few Arab countries: Most Sri Lankans they know are domestic workers. Ohio, USA: Not a lot of diversity it seemed.

BMA: What made you decide to live abroad?

Ronali: God 🙂

BMA: Can you list all the cities/countries you visited?


  1. Thailand (Bangkok / Pai / Chiang Mai)
  2. India (Hyderabad / Tamil Nadu)
  3. Australia (Melbourne)
  4. UK (Birmingham / London / York)
  5. Hong Kong
  6. Philippines (Manilla)
  7. South Africa (Cape Town / Durban / Johannesburg)
  8. Kenya
  9. Tanzania
  10. Egypt
  11. Lebanon
  12. Jordan
  13. Kuwait
  14. Bahrain
  15. America (Most of the west coast / Texas / a few on the east coast)
  16. Brazil
  17. Canada
  18. Oman
  19. Hungary
  20. Sri Lanka
  21. Ethiopia

BMA: Where did you deliver your children?

Ronali: United Arab Emirates

Ronali, Abu Dhabi

BMA: What do you wish you knew before you decided to move abroad?

Ronali: I don’t really have an answer to this… (BMA: Ronali’s parents are from Sri Lanka and lived as expats in Abu Dhabi. Ronali was raised as a third culture kid. So she technically didn’t actually move abroad like most expats)

Ronali, Abu Dhabi

BMA: Did you meet your husband in your home country or while living abroad?

Ronali: Met Chris in the UAE while he was visiting his sister – who was a friend of mine. (BMA: Chris is from South Africa)

BMA: How long do/did you plan on living abroad?

Ronali: For as long as God calls us. Neither of us really have a place we call ‘home’.

Enjoyed meeting Ronali?

Follow her!

Ronali, Abu Dhabi

Ronali is THAT mother who somehow seems to be good at so many things. Items from her Rags to Riches Collection has been some of my favorite items in my home. Her creative outlet is Birds & Dandelions:

Thank you Ronali for giving us a glimpse into your life.

2 thoughts on “Brown Mom Abroad: An Interview with an Abu Dhabi Mom

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