Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Dubai bashing" debate continues

Yet more coverage in the paper today about the recent UK press and TV coverage. Dubai British expats were quoted as saying that they didn't recognise the Dubai that was described. That's because you are probably one of the ones reported as going out partying every night getting drunk and admitting that you have never even spoken to an Emirati! These people lag me off! Also the ones who, when I return home from the UK say "I suppose you saw all the reasons why you live here now eh? " Well, actually, no. Of course there are the usual things that do get you down in the UK (and I'm sure I don't need to repeat them all) , but I also realised there were a lot of things I missed; some good lungs full of fresh air, popping over the road to the chip shop; a "greasy spoon" cafe fry up, normal driving practices; not having to repeat myself 5 times to be understood; not having a cacophony of languages blaring around me (at least not where I live in the UK) and on and on.....

Living in Mohammed bin Zayed City, where we are right next to Mussafah Commercial area and the labour camps, I can absolutely relate to the articles that have been written. I have walked through the labour camps (and I bet not many of my Dubai expat compatriots quoted today have!) and seen for myself the conditions. Many of the labourers of course really try hard to make the most of it and I'm also sure that some are treated much better than others. But even for the best of them it's not much of a life and I am sure that at it's worst in parts of Dubai, I can quite believe it is as bad as reported. For those that may have missed it in my previous posting, here's a link to some pictures I took on a Friday around the labour camps:-

Workers Day Off

I am also glad that through my work I do get to meet many Emirati people, almost on a daily basis. I enjoy this interaction, learning a little about them and their family and lifestyle (idle chit chat about family and life in general is important in business out here). Abu Dhabi has a much higher percentage population of locals than Dubai (c.20% rather than c.5% in Dubai) so you are much more aware of the local people and traditions and Abu Dhabi rightly wants to keep it that way. I, for one, hope they do and don't fall into the Duabi trap.

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Another article in the paper today (The National) was encouraging Emirati mothers to take a more active part in the upbringing of their children and not to just "dump" them on maids or nannies. This unfortunately seems to be common practice. An Emirati woman who is working on the campaign said that some local women will get their maid to pick the child up when it cries so they don't spoil their Abaya! I can well believe it! You see the maids struggling to manage the children round the malls while their parents (male and female) swan around several yards in front -the maids also have to carry the bags of purchases made by the parents too by the way! I do believe this is just downright laziness and ignorance. Even if they are treating their maids well, I agree with the article that it does jeopardise their culture if the children are not brought up by their own Emirati parents.

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