Friday, December 29, 2006

So what defines a Local?

What would you say defines a Local? Or more specifically, What factors defines the Local identity?

Go on, I know you are answering the question as you read this. So write it down in the comments

This is not a local bashing contest so any blatantly derogatory and/or racist comments will not be tolerated.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

WOW! that is all I can say..WOW!

I have rarely seen a speach that comes from the heart like this one.

A bit too lefty-secular-anti-religion-feminist for this part of the world.....don't think she was invited to the Arab Strategy Forum held in Dubai.

And check this out. Never thought anyone could say such things against Islam. OUCH! Double OUCH!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Any one of us could have told you all that.

Hey Human Rights Watch! I could have saved you alllll that trouble of interviewing 70 odd people, talking to ministers, spending days walking the streets of dubai, countless hours of typing up the report etc. etc. You should have come to me ( or any other long term resident for that case) and I would have saved you ALLL THAT TROUBLE(800kb). :-)

Although I was already very familiar with the contents of the report, It is a MUST READ! Especially for all of you who think Dubai is all about glamour and glitz!!

The most interesting thing they have managed to do is to conceal the plight,misery and anguish of around 20% of the labour force! You can live here for years and not even notice construction workers ( let alone get a glimpse of their miserable lives).

Sunday, December 03, 2006

'20% of the population ' celebration day!

Happy belated National day to all…

The development this country has made is astonishing and unprecedented. Congratulations to all the citizens of this land( whether you have the papers to prove it or not).

I wish I could also celebrate this festive occasion…but then again how many ‘expats’ do you see waving a UAE flag, have their cars covered in the national colours or taking part in the festivities? ‘Its not your country’!

Homosexuality...its a dare you even talk about it!

Over the past few years, along with the development of the country, another hidden aspect of almost every other society is flourishing in Dubai. It seems to me that each year this subculture gets larger, bolder and more evident. A few years back it was so secretive and concealed that it was virtually non-existent to the average Joe( ‘average Jasim’ would be more relevant to this part of the world).

Homosexuality seems to be a flourishing subculture in Dubai. Their numbers and willingness to be just that extra bit noticeable is on the increase. I have personally met more gays in the past year then I have met in the past two decades combined (though I am yet to meet any lesbians in DXB)!

The most stereotypical gay people in Dubai are Filipinos. I don’t know why they have this reputation but it has reached to such an extent that as soon as you mention a Filipino hair dresser, people immediately made homophobic remarks( I am not saying all, most or a large number of Filipinos are gay so don’t start getting pissed of and save your insults for some else). There are also a number of western homosexuals that are openly expressive of their sexuality through their femineity and sense of style. I guess I have something that is exclusively innate to homosexuals: Gay-dar. Even my gay friends abroad were amazed at how as a heterosexual I have a refined, though not perfected, ability to identify a homosexual. I personally don’t know much about the gay subculture. The little information I do have is as an outside observer. So I would appreciate if you would contribute to this discussion and shed some light on this subculture.

One aspect of homosexuality which amazes and dumbfounds me is the gays/lesbians among the local population.” WHAT they exist??” Come one don’t be so naïve. Unless you just got of the boat or lived a very isolated life in Dubai you’d know what I’m on about. Throughout the years I have asked around and spoken with many of my local friends who have attended public schools here and found out that homosexual activity is rampant in schools. Boys and girls do engage in homosexual activities. These are predominantly physical relationships with hardly any being an emotional relationship as well (much less among girls). In all cases that I have heard it usually has the following form. There are always a group of macho-testosterone-pumped-aggressive-mischievous guys who pray on more femininely incline boys. Females seem to have a more emotional connection and physical interactions are less dominating character of their relationships.

However, homosexual activity and behaviour does not necessarily relate to being a homosexual. Allow me to explain.

From my observations and understandings very few of these relationships are truly of a homosexual nature. This is specially the case with purely physical relationships. It appears to be that pent-up sexual frustrations coupled with a lack of interaction with the opposite sex and an inability to sexually express themselves has forced them to use this avenue to temporarily alleviate their ‘pressure’. There is also the dominating, he-is-my-bitch factor involved. You know what I just realised? This is a social situation that is very similar to prison! A person might not be homosexual in nature but due to pent up sexual frustration he/she needs to release his/her ‘stress’. And due to the dominating nature of some individuals there will eventually be a prison-bitch to satisfy their cravings… Interesting similarities !!

I personally know very little about the homosexual subculture and most of the information I do have does not come from the horse’s mouth (unlike when I was talking about the ethnicity of the local population) rather from other people who have had a greater interaction with the gay subculture.

I would love if any homosexuals out there could shed some light on this issue.

Once again if there are any obvious fallacies in my entry please inform me of it so I may be able to correct them….

( note: i am not homophobic nor am I attempting to condemn or insult homosexuals. I would just like to learn more about this subculture in Dubai.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

There i go dreaming again!

"I have a dream that one day my four little children will grow up in a nation where they will not be judged by their ethnicity or citizenship but by their patriotism and identity." LocalExpat, 2006.

Monday, November 20, 2006

I was so naive

It has been almost five months since I got back from my spell abroad and , except for the first month, I have been actively searching for a job in my field of study. For explanation purposes lets just say that I have studied something which is highly sought after in this city.

Now the interesting thing is that I haven’t even had an interview yet, let alone finding a job. I am not about to debate my shortcomings in my search for employment but I would like to shed some light on the politics, racism, nepotisim and Wasta involved in this process.

It was a complete eye opening experience for me. Even though I have lived my whole life in this city and I have always heard people around me complaining about the situation, I never truly realised its seriousness until I personally encountered it.

I have always known Dubai is an openly discriminatory society but no amount of preparation cushions the impact of a tonne of bricks crashing down on you.

What have I realised? :

  • Some industries are run by particular nationalities and have a huge preference for their own kind. Eg. the advertising market here is predominantly run by Lebanese. HP in Dubai is full of Egyptians. Gold market is dominated by Gujratis (Indians)Etc.
  • A lot of companies do not even consider you PURELY on the fact that you hail from XXXX and they just don’t like people from that country. I had a meeting a recruitment consultant at a very reputable recruitment agency in Dubai and she mentioned how she regularly encounters HR mangers who explicitly state that they do not want Indians, Lebanese, Iranian e.t.c
  • Nepotism.
    Do I need to say more?
  • Wasta.
    If you have lived in Dubai for more than a week you will have already become very acquainted with what used to be a very foreign word. If you do not have wasta in the job market you are going to find it VERY VERY hard to get a shot at anything.
  • Acceptance of graduates.
    Unlike other major international cities, Dubai is not very acceptant of graduates. For e.g there are only 5 companies that I know of who have a graduate recruitment/placement program. The impression I get is that most companies perceive graduates to be someone who has a lack of experience and needs training. Basically an expense. In the major international city where I studied, graduates where viewed as a ‘clean slate’ that can be moulded to perfectly suit a company. Basically an asset.

I was rather naïve in thinking that I can get a job purely on my merits and abilities. I guess I was wrong.

Friday, November 17, 2006

So what do you like about Dubai?

I have decided to place a slightly more positive entry this time round.

Towards the end of my stay abroad Dubai started to make a really big name for itself. From time to time I would meet people who would ask me: “What is so great about Dubai?” Well I never managed to give one single answer nor was I able to give the same response twice. I guess what makes Dubai so special is a million little things.

  • Shawarma- only when you leave do you realise how precious it is.
  • You can hear the Azan and the music from the nightclubs- its your choice which tune you decided to groove to.
  • Hearing people speak English, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi and many other languages in a single visit to the souq.
  • Meeting people from ALL over the world in a single city. Most private schools in Dubai have students from 40+ nationalities. No matter what culture you hail from there is a good chance you will find your own kind here as well
  • Your ability to interact and immerse yourself in the abundance of different cultures representing the ethnic make up of Dubai.
  • A short car ride from Bastakiya to Sh.Zayed Rd and you are blasted from what I call Old Arabia to the Modern World.
  • The desert! My GOD if you ever feel down or just need to escape…there is no other place in the world more beautiful and serene then the desert during sunset ( I might have been a Bedouin in a previous life).

So what about you guys? What do YOU think makes Dubai so special?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Shoo? matkalem 3rabi?

Another interesting comment I hear from the local community is that expatriates don’t seem to have any interest or make an effort to learn Arabic, even though they are in an Arab country.

Well I think this is a very valid point to make. And it would be amazing if most expats could speak Arabic.

BUT, and now the problems start, it is VERY hard. Why you ask:-

1) In most private schools, although it is compulsory to teach Arabic, absolutely no emphasis is placed on teaching the subject effectively. So much so that most people I know who went to private school here have no clue about the Arabic language even after studying it for years.
This I know from personal experience and from people around me

2) The few expats who pick up the language eventually forget most of it. Why you ask? Well picture a typical day in Dubai(picture it from an expat point of view)?. Think about what you do from the time you wake up and go to sleep. How many times do you need to or actually speak Arabic? Rarely!

3) Even if you want to learn Arabic at a private institute, it is still difficult. I had a friend who attended Arabic language classes after work 3 times a week. And he said something very interesting. He is learning and speaking the language in class but once he steps out of the classroom he rarely has an opportunity to use it in his daily life. It’s like he is learning Arabic in a non-Arab city. He has to actively go out of his way to encounter situations where he will have to use Arabic. And most time when he actually starts to speak the language people easily notice that he is not a fluent speaker and start conversing in English with him.

This friend of mine eventually went to Jordan for a year to learn the language. He learnt more in a year there then in 3 years studying in Dubai. Mainly because he had to use it every single day.

4) Even my fluency of the language is deteriorating. Purely on the fact that I don’t use it that often.

I know expats who have lived here for 30 + years and still cannot speak more than few words in Arabic.

I guess what I am saying that the blame cannot be placed wholly on expats shoulders. The entire society functions this way.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Degree of Racisim is Negativly Corelated to Education Levels.

Just the other day I was talking to my friend about the lack of understanding and social segregation that exists among expatriates and locals in Dubai. And the single biggest reason that we both reached was education.

Now I don’t mean an individual’s attempt to inform themselves about the culture but a more holistic and systematic approach. I am talking about the education systems that exist in Dubai.

The present situation segregates the society by default. Locals go to public schools (there are a minority that attend private schooling along with expatriates) and expats to schools that offer their choice of curriculum. Theses children spend 12 years of their life with minimal contact with expats/locals at school. And by the time they graduate, they already have a biased opinion of expats/locals due to the misinformation they receive. And once they do come into contact with expats/locals in the workforce the biased image they have is already so deeply ingrained into their psyche that it will take another 12 years to alter that( if it even happens).

Children are least susceptible to bias and racism. If the two communities are placed in the same education system and have contact with each other from a young age a significant proportion(I am not saying all ) of the misunderstandings, malice, bias, racism and out right animosity will be cease to exist.

I mean how many of you actually have a serious social relationship with a local/expats? How many of you have been invited into a local/expats house and had a meal with them, played with their children, been on social outings with them?

I say racism is almost directly correlated with education. The more a person knows about a culture the less he will be susceptible to forming false impressions purely on what the media and society throws at us.

What you guys think… have an education system where locals and expats are attending the same classes? I am not saying it will solve the entire issue but it can help.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I knew I would have this situation!

OK I think I might have given the wrong impression to some people who have read this blog. I understand why some of you might have misinterpreted my blog to be offensive, obnoxious, rude e.t.c

Let me start by saying this:-



2) I am not a revolutionary nor do I seek to change the way society functions here. I am not interested or ever will be interested in actively entering politics or placing my self in a situation whereby I or people around me could possibly be harmed.

3) I have nothing against the ruling families other than pure and true admiration for what a miraculous achievement they have accomplished with this land in the space of 50 years.

4)What I have mentioned in this blog are only my thoughts and opinions. That is all. I do not expect anything to eventuate from it. I just like discussing it.

If you do not like what I am saying them please tell me in a respectful and mature manner. Do not throw insults at me, for I haven’t done that to you personally. And if you feel that I am talking ‘rubbish’ you are entitled to express your opinion (in a decent manner) and not read my blog again. BUT DO NOT INSULT ME PERSONALY OR ANYONE ELSE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. Vulgarity and obscenity will NOT BE TOLERTED. Discussions will be!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ethnicity of the Local community in Dubai

What I would like to discuss, and I do hope that I get some comments and feedback from UAE nationals on this, is the composition of the local community in Dubai.

Most expatriates think that all locals originate from Dubai. Well from my experience I have found this not to be the case. Locals, who make up 20% of the UAE population( check the 2006 UAE census ), are composed of basically the following ethnicities:-

1) Bedouins and native arabs

These are people who have been arab as far as their ancestry can be traced back. From my perceptions they form an actual minority within a minority

2) Iranians

There is a large and significant number of Iranian locals. A lot of people will know of the Bastakiya area in Bur Dubai. Well that name is derived from the early settlement of a large Iranian community originating from the town of Bastak in southern Iran. The Iranian locals are mainly the descendants of merchants and, thus, you will notice them running a lot of the big business in the souq. Galadari( originate from the town of Galadar in southern Iran), Bartwai( a big construction firm which was very active in the 90s), Al Gurg are three famous business families , to name a few, who originate from iran. You can also ascertain their Iranian background from their last names. The Al Awadhi name ( e.g the head of One TV ) are a community originating from the town of Awaz in southern Iran. Minavi is also another community here that originates from the town of Minab .

The Southern Iranian community has a long established commercial connection with Dubai dating back to the 40s.

3) Yemeni

From my knowledge, they also make up a significant proportion of the locals. Their mainstay is in the police force.

4) Balushi

The Balushi family name is an indicator of a local’s Baluchi origin. Baluchis are an ethnicity that is spread across the south-eastern region of Iran and south-western region of Pakistan.

5) Zanzibar

Zanzibaris originate from the region of Zanzibar in Tanzania. This region has centuries of trade relations with Gulf arab states( namely Oman and Yeman) and was ,for a period of time, ruled by the Sultan of Oman( im not sure if it was Oman of Yeman).

A lot of the dark-skinned locals with an African physical complexion are Zanzibari.

6) Palestinians and other arab countries

I personally know of two local families were Palestinian refugees who settled in this country in the early 70s and have received the citizenship.

Well that is what I know about the ethnic make up of the local community. If I have made a mistake anywhere please inform me so that I can correct it. Additionally, I would also like you to contribute to this discussion and see if there are any other ethnicities that make up the local identity.

Newspapers finnally have the balls to say it!

Well seems like I got some statistics to back up what I have been saying about discrimination in this land ( and what we dubians knew all along).

AND, I thought I would be the only one talking about constructive criticism.

Friday, November 03, 2006

And they wonder why people drive like animals here

Ok that is IT!!! i have officially had it now...and i am SOOOOO pissed off. How do you expect the country to learn how to drive properly WHEN the BLOODY POLICE HERE ARE AS BAD!
They cut you off, don't signal when changing lanes, SPEED ( and not only when their emergency lights are on), don't wear a seat belt... the list goes on! I just got cut off by a car, which is normal here, and I didn't get to me at first. But when i realised its a cop!!!!! AAHHHHHH

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Come on be realistic! You can't do that!

A further comment on the issue I introduced in my first entry ( refer below), I sincerely think that this system implemented in Dubai and the entire UAE is bound to fail. A minority’s rule over a majority has been historically proven to be a flawed ideology

Look back in history and name me a single civilisation, country, city, town, village or community that was able to sustain its existence for signification period of time without an imminent downfall. If you can, please correct me with a comment to this entry.

You currently have an entire generation of dubai residents who have grown up not knowing any other homeland. That generation is now all grown up. I am not even going to start mentioning the ‘local’ arabs who are officially not part of any country in the world. I call them paperless arabs. Yes my dear reader you read that correctly. And if you asked yourself : “ You mean there are ‘locals’ who do not have any citizenship”, then you are correct. Back to my original statement; now this generation along with its descendents will form a bigger and bigger segment of the society. A segment whose voices are not heard and rights not kept. An entire generation who are considered ‘guest’ in there own homes. Wanted, if they can keep a job and bring money into the country. Thrown out the door like a cheap whore after a lousy shag, as soon as you are not economically useful anymore.

This country has to recognise this. And its only a single, minuscule facet of the complications that will arise if this system of US and THEM, GUEST and LOCALS, LORD and MASTER is not altered. No! Allow me to rephrase that last word. DESTROYED.

The least thing that the UAE should do is have a naturalisation programme. When people talk about the fact that locals need to protect their identity and culture. YA HABIBI you think that the culture they practise now hasn’t been completely distorted from what they used to practise 40 years ago? The problem is most expatriates have no clue whatsoever about the local culture. They are just outside observers and only seeing the tip of the iceberg. There has been such an alteration, evolution, change, transformation of the local culture and identity that I think that argument is completely futile. How do I know this? Well lets just say that I have one foot placed in the expat society and the other one in the local community. Let me give you an example. Picture a stereotypical image of a local….go on think about it…… There was a time when a stereotypical local was renowned for its hospitality( just to name a few great attributes). And now.. I can bet you myright leg that a majority of you had at least one of the following characteristics in mind:-

1) Brash

2) Obnoxious

3) Driving an expensive car in an insane manner

4) Ignorant

5) Lazy ( my god how this was so not true a few decades ago !)

6) Rich

7) Egoistic

8) Self centered

9) Chase anything with two tits and a pussy

And you want to tell me that they have to maintain and protect their culture…. It has already changed my dear reader( thank money for that)

One more thing. What about the enormous benefits of officially including a whole population into your country? Let me name you just one. Do you know how many people have left Dubai to immigrate to Canada, US, UK, Australia e.t.c because they can’t cement their future in this place? How many skilled workers have left and taken their talents along with them. Why not keep them here? Why not use their talents for the betterment of this society and not somewhere else? I bet some of you are thinking well if they leave we will just get other worker to come here. But!! People will come while the money is flowing. Once an economic depression sets in ( and that is bound to happen Dubai has just been evading it for a long time) they will be the first to leave. You need to have people in this country who have more than a materialistic and financial attachment to this land.

My next topic is going to shed some light on the composition and origins of locals. Most people think that all locals originate from Dubai or the UAE. Wait and see :-)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I have a dream. Then realised that was all it was. Just a dream

"I have a dream that one day my four little children will growp up in a nation where they will not be judged by their colour of their skin but by their content and character."

How interesting to see that almost 50 years ago one of the greatest human beings to walk on the face on this earth mentioned this in an American context, only to see it equally applicable to Dubai. Just think about it for a second and you will see what I mean.

Oh and who was this person who said this? Martin Luther King

Welcome ;-)

My first entry… The world of cyberspace be warned! I wonder, can you handle my thoughts, views and emotions? Will this environment of anonymity enable me to vent out what has built up inside of me without having to suffer the repercussions? I wonder…..

Well where do I start? I guess with who I am and what I intend to write in this blog. For reasons that will become obvious, I need to maintain a sense of anonymity for my safety and the safety of others. I am a young, Middle-Eastern individual who has lived his entire life in Dubai( a whole quarter of a century). I have pursued my tertiary education in a western country and have recently returned to my home, Dubai, only to realise that a lot has changed and I wasn’t prepared for it.

My blog will be a place where I will talk about and discuss everything and anything that is considered taboo Dubai. I guess with the safety blanked of anonymity that cyberspace provides you that is what most bloggers do.

So what is my first topic?

Well here I go. I will be explicit as possible.

You live your whole life in a country and it is the only place that you know of that is home and, more importantly, feels like home. It is the only place where when you put your head on your pillow to sleep you have an inner sense of calm and security. Just like a young child when it is rocked to sleep by its mother. It is the only place where you have a sense of belonging and acceptance. It is the only place where you would like to welcome your newborn child, your own blood, into. This is what I consider home.

But Dubai’s very different. I have lived here my whole life and the entire part of it I was systematically considered and continuously reminded of my origins. In fact the whole society works like that. There is an officially set line that separates us from them. Furthermore, society does not let you down in brainwashing you into understanding, believing and accepting that you are not from this country and you never will be. So I grew up, just like every other ‘expatriate’, identifying myself with the country mentioned on my passport.

It was only when I went to study abroad that my entire identity was shattered into pieces. Why you ask? Simple let me give you an example:-

Me: Hi my name is XXX

Friend: Hi I am Sam. Are you new at this Uni?

Me: Yes. I just arrived from Dubai

Friend: Oh so you from Dubai.. that’s in the UAE right?

Me: Well no. I am from XXX but I have lived my whole life in Dubai

Friend: So have you ever lived in XXX

Me: no

Friend: so you have lived your whole life in Dubai and yet you consider yourself from XXX, even though you never lived there. That is strange? I don’t get it. I mean …..

Me: well let me explain dubai to you and how the system of expatriates and locals work…

Now this situation would repeat itself every time I would meet a new individual. Eventually it got me thinking.

I don’t feel comfortable in XXX, my so called homeland, in fact I feel like a tourist there. And even in this country I was studying I was welcomed but it just did not feel right. That feeling deep inside, that emotion inside was not aroused. Then it hit me. No it smashed into me. It smashed into me like a truck roaring ahead at breakneck speed. And it shattered my perceptions and identity. This happened on my first night back during a summer holiday in Dubai. That first night when I rested my head on my pillow to go to sleep, I felt this strange sensation.

A feeling.

An emotion that filled up a void.

An emptiness.

Created from the time I left Dubai.

I felt like a young child being rocked to sleep in its mother’s arms.

To all the people who still don’t get what I mean…let me put it this way: How can I be considered a foreigner when I have lived and contributed as much as the ‘locals’?

One more thing. I hate that word : Local. It is a title self imposed by a minority in this country that implies supremacy and authority over the minnows. In fact I would compare it to the middle ages where nobles were born into their status and wealth although they form a minority, they ruled over the rest of the peasants. It also denotes a form of segregation. NAY, apartheid! ( now I think I have pissed off enough people reading this article). The fact that one group of people are superior to another purely based on their ethnicity, allowed to own land and businesses and countless other privileges that if I start mentioning all of them it would take up a whole page.

Being a ‘local’ is not a title that is should be granted through hereditary lines. It shouldn’t even be a title in the first place. It shouldn’t be a symbolic way in which one could achieve a false sense of superiority. It should be a sign of patriotism, belonging and most of all contributing to society. I have contributed as much to the development of this country as much as a ‘local’(I hate using that term!).