Tuesday, October 31, 2006

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!).

45 comments:

secretdubai said...

Wow - I am greatly looking forward to reading more of your blog. I have put it on my Bloglines and on the blogroll at UAE Community blog and I have also sent you a member invitation there.

ArabLady said...

Yesterday I was talking with a friend about “another friend” who decided to quit working …”the other friend” was hired immediately after graduation at one of the most prestigious places in the country ..her salary was as much as any expatriate manager would earn…blab blah

When I compare my situation with those “Locals” I feel sorry for myself!
We both studied at the same uni and I know she is not smarter than me!!

But since she is “LOCAL” she has more privileges although she doesn’t appreciate what she enjoys at all!!…as a person who was born and raised in this country, I feel that UAE is the place I belong to….but after all we are called expats..u know wut although deep inside we know how they perceive us , we still love this country…

And here we go I’m a member of the jobless club!!

Anyhow ,Nice blog…Welcome to the blogsphere!! Thx 4 visiting my blog and look forward to reading ur posts..

Keefieboy said...

This is gonna be fun!

Woke said...

Very interesting.
Looking forward to more of your posts.

nzm said...

With words like this, and the way in which you express your feelings, you are truly a person who looks into his heart to know what is right and what is just.

Keep it that way, and you won't go wrong!

The UAE needs people like you, and I pray that one day you'll be able to call this place home - not just in your heart and soul, but also by your passport and nationality status.

Welcome, fellow blogger!

marwan said...

Well done, lad. Off to a good start already.

Prometheus said...

Now Prometheus is downright jealous. Outstanding beginning, that. Keep up the great work, friend.

DG said...

Welcome to blogosphere my friend :-)

elle said...

Look forward to reading some more of your thoughts. Welcome!

BD said...

My blog will be a place where I will talk about and discuss everything and anything that is considered taboo Dubai.

Good luck on this. I wish you the best!

How can I be considered a foreigner when I have lived and contributed as much as the ‘locals’?

You've just answered your own questions. Locals don't contribute; they just receive.

Free Mind said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Free Mind said...

Join the Club of the being an expat with no identity!

I am humming Michael Jackson now - "You are not alone!" Lol - he seems to me more welcome here than me!

blogrosh said...

aha one of my fellow "species" - welcome to the blog UAEian : )

I love this post - it's the STORY OF MY LIFE!

grapeshisha said...

welcome to the blogosphere! Cant wait for your observations. You're more aunthentic than any expat or "local". 2 views in one.Amazing!

ArabLady said...

I feeeeeeeeeeeeeel jealous NOW

No body gave a damn when I started blogging!!Obvious discrimination against woman ;P

Yalaa be Happy localexpat u man add my to the u "species” list in return I’ll add u to the jobless club..no entry fees no nothing ….being handsome is a plus

Cheerz ;)

adevents said...

I am a local expat just like you, but I want to say lets just not forget this is happening all around the Arab world and even some of Europe not only the UAE and don’t forget the UAE Local population is only 20% of the total population they have to find some way to save their identity and have a privilege over the rest of the population which normal and fair , I don’t think treating expat as the same as local is the answer, but yes there is many other solutions to this but needed to be considered first

change_ling said...

wow. i like your starting post!

MD said...

Welcome! And a belated welcome to ArabLady and free_mind...so now you can't complain!

nativeinformant said...

Hi and welcome. I very much enjoyed your first post. looking forward to hearing more. This is exactly what I am here researching, so email me if you would like to talk about it further...

localexpat said...

WOW I am surprised at the response and the welcome I have recieved. I guess I thought cyberspace will also be an extension of conservative and shalow minded mentality prevalent in Dubai.
I honestly thought I would get the same response as I would when I talk to people in this city about this issue. Another thing... Do any of you guys realise how shallow and empty most poeple in Dubai are? I mean you cannot have a single intelectually stimulating conversation here( I am generalising here and including everbody)! OR is it just me?

nzm said...

LocalExpat: You've just noticed this? :-)

There are a few intelligent people willing to have a spirited discourse, but they're few and far between.

Hopefully through the blogging community, you'll be able to meet a few who will get down and dirty with meaningful dialogue!

blogrosh said...

Adventus - "UAE and don’t forget the UAE Local population is only 20% of the total population they have to find some way to save their identity and have a privilege over the rest of the population which normal and fair , I don’t think treating expat as the same as local is the answer, but yes there is many other solutions to this but needed to be considered first "

Nobody is conquering the Emirati culture. I agree 1-0-1% that Emirati culture should be preserved and the minority should be granted protectionist rights to an extent and so on.

However, by the same logic, how would you describe yourself, or folks like localexpat & I? I mean I can't call myself 100% Indian (my mom's Indian) or 100% Brit(my dad's brit) since I wasn't raised in those countries.

Even though I live in NYC and have earned a resident status (a Green card), and own a wonderful apartment on the river and am trying to make this my "home" - I can't call myself American - almost never can - cause I wasn't born or raised in the US, but in the UAE.

I can't tell people, I am from the UAE, because of the country's immigration laws and have debates to that similar expressed on localexpat's blog. Hence at my end, there is often a lack of belongingness, often I keep thinking - where are my roots? where do I belong? where is my home?

There are several factors about the US culture/lifestyle, (similarly in case of Indian or the Brit lifestyles) which I find alien or cannot agree with, when compared to the one I was raised in the UAE.


My point being, you talk about "preserving" Emirati culture & it's citizens however, let's talk about "acknowledging" souls like localexpat, you & I for a change. It doesn't have to be an Emirati citizenship or even sudden equal rights with Emirati's - however at a minimum, stop calling us "guest workers" or "expatriates" and please do away with "go home". Instead please extend a right to live permanently in a land where we were born, raised and are so attached to.

Believe me, even if you choose to make a home elsewhere, there is a strong possibility you'll be heading "home" to the UAE every Christmas holiday or on vacations. You need to know you can go "home" - home can be a dump or a palace - however being "home" is a fundamental emotion of a human being.

ss said...

The term local if you did not know the meaning is as follows, local: 2 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a particular place : not general or widespread – from the Merriam-webster dictionary.

Every culture and society has its locals. We are the locals of the emirates; you don’t like it, go home to where you can call yourselves locals. Stop bitching about locals and their ways. Get a life. Or better yet, go home and bitch there. You or your parents left there for a better life because your country of origin was not good to you or them in some way. So stop with your constant badgering of everything local and steer your boredom elsewhere, like focus on your own country and its downfalls and failures to you as a citizen.

I am so tired of all you people bitching 24/7 – you hate………. LEAVE!!!!!

localexpat said...

my dear SS.. you are so wrong. It is not due to a deep seated animosity that I say such things.. on the contrary!!!! I had a choice to leave it was simple just stay in that western country I was studying in. But I chose to come back because this is where I belong. It is through love for this place that I say what’s been on my mind for years.

And you think that if people like me leave, then that’s a good idea. You want materialistic, blood suckers to remain in this country? People you are only here for their own self interest? People using this country like a gold-digging girlfriend!

You are a local of the emirates... so am I. You would pick up a gun and fight an invading force? So would I. You would want to bring your child into this world in his/her homeland. So would I.

Read my latest post and you will get a better idea! You will see that it is through love not hatred that i say such things!

I pity poor souls like you who always repeat that line: " leave if you don't like it". If you have actually thought this through, you would realise that its the worst thing you want people to do!

blogrosh said...

Many thanks for saying it so well localexpat.

SS - not all of us "complain" or "bitch" because we HATE the UAE or EMIRATIS. Nothing and I mean NOTHING could be farther from the truth.

Before you go on and about with your barrage of insensitive remarks & insults, read the comments in context. Do you not complain or debate about your home, if you find something wrong/ unfair or negative about it and try bring about change - or do you just shut up & put up with it?

It's funny - I am laughed at when I say I shall stand up against someone who could harm or have truly insensitive remarks of the UAE. I am laughed at because, people tell me - why do I care, when the country does not care for folks like me or localexpat?

Prime example - some interesting & tenacious debates I've had with several bloggers at "thinkprogress.org" a democratic blog site in the US, when most in North America were ditching and truly bitching about Dubai and the UAE. I stood up and defended UAE. I was laughed at, labelled a "terrorists" (and a Republican) - but I stood up and defended and tried to bring awareness - because I cared and because it hurt, it hurt to hear people talk shit about my home.


Today, I am defending Dubai to a good intentional (but sadly ignorant) American born Iranian and her Caucasian husband - because they think UAE is all hype with no substance and is a playground for terrorists/gas prices gaugers/ prostitution and camel jockeys. At the end of our conversation - she asked - "given my sentiments why did I leave the UAE"?


SS - to an extent, I understand where you are coming from. However it's just plain ridiculous when you generalize across the expat community. Not all of us "bitch" because we are filled with hate or dislike. Some of us leave a place we call "home" - however sentiments/thoughts on home do not leave us.

black belt 1st dan,shotokan! said...

i prefer using the term "native" in place of local.

BuJ said...

hey.. mabrook on starting zee blog!

i look forward to reading more.

you and i have a lot of things in common.. so i will be following this space.

one thing though.. the UAE has been naturalising people since it started in 1971.. as you know a significant proportion of "locals" are not natives but come from places like Yemen and Iran.

these people have UAE citizenship.. and the UAE have now stepped up naturalisation of more long-term residents.. i read last month that there are plans to naturalise upto 10,000 people in a local english daily.

dubai's quite transparent and has opened the door to apply quite openly for those who have stayed upto 20 yrs in the emirate.

would be interesting to get the point of view of a proper local on this .. i wonder if my friend Emirati would oblige :)

BuJ said...

PS: I've kinda touched on some of these issues back in December 2005.

Please find the blog post below:

http://bujassem.blogspot.com/2005/12/reverse-culture-shock.html

blogrosh said...

"the UAE have now stepped up naturalisation of more long-term residents.. i read last month that there are plans to naturalise upto 10,000 people in a local english daily.


What? where - when - how - whom & this can't be true?

dubai's quite transparent and has opened the door to apply quite openly for those who have stayed upto 20 yrs in the emirate."


What? where - when - how - whom & is this true?

Details please details.

BuJ said...

blogrosh.. can't find the exact article.. but thise one is close enough!

http://www.metimes.com/storyview.php?StoryID=20061025-074654-1995r

things are not as bad as the most disgruntled guy claims.

localexpat said...

"plans to naturalise upto 10,000 people in a local english daily."

Buj read the article. Its only includes the 'paperless arabs'. These are people who should already be having the citizenship. This is not a naturalisation program. Its an effort to provide identity papers to NATIVE arabs. They are not being 'naturalised'. The are natives already !

"dubai's quite transparent and has opened the door to apply quite openly for those who have stayed upto 20 yrs in the emirate."
Dubai has started accepting applications for citizenships already that is true. BUT, and thats big BUT, there is no systematic protocol in place to provide citizenship. Its a very ad hoc process. You apply and with luck and WASTA you might get it after 2-15 years. I can name you 13 families that i know who are on that waiting list at the moment ( and that is approx 500 people)

You might say that is a start of some sort. But it is FAR from sufficient!

Anonymous said...

Wow where do I begin?
1. I'm in the same club as you. Been here 28+ years. Parents came here to get out of bleak conditions. Spent a long time here and went back to a changed land.

2. Me, I'm a misfit in two locations. A stranger in my "own" land and an unwanted one here.

I can't go anywhere else coz thats like being twice removed ... cue revenue for the shrinks?!

Oh most locals are born with a silver spoon in their mouth or get one handed to them from the Govt.

I work in a place where "young" freshers are given posts and money that others have to fight to earn. And they get politically promoted too. Organizations have a hidden gun pointed at their moneypot. It's like - give all privileges to the locals without them earning it or we'll tax(fee) the hell out of your finances. Yes, there are exceptions of course but for the most part it sucks.

Scar me cynical.

Anonymous said...

"
Get a life. Or better yet, go home and bitch there. You or your parents left there for a better life because your country of origin was not good to you or them in some way."

heh define local. Are these the guys who cant pay the bride here so they go to India/Pakistan and marry cheap. Are their kids "locals"
Or the rich local who goes abroad and gets a European/American wife. Are their kids truly "local"

And WTF is this with the better life here. Don't comapre the place you see now to what it was 20 years ago. Easy life my ass.

SS said...

Anonuymous writes:

“Are these the guys who cant pay the bride here so they go to India/Pakistan and marry cheap. Are their kids "locals"
Or the rich local who goes abroad and gets a European/American wife. Are their kids truly "local"

Yes their kids are local. And not all men go to different countries for their brides. The majority of them have local wives.

And WTF is this with the better life here. Don't comapre the place you see now to what it was 20 years ago. Easy life my ass.”

I can compare what ever the hell I like. Don’t demean my ideas of the expat. They came here for a better life – ask anyone who came here 20/30 years ago. They saw the potential the UAE offered them and the future for their kids. Nobody forced them to come here and no one forced you to stay here. Yes, the expat does contribute to the country….. but they are becoming a major inconvenience, not really the Arabs – but the westerners. We bring over theses westerners who are really nothing more than low grade workers in companies and give them houses, cars, high salaries, maids drivers etc….. and they go around thinking they own OUR country, they look down on anything arab. And the only person to be blamed is us locals.

Blogrosh –

You defend the UAE not because of your “patriotism” but because you defend your choice of living here or your parents choice to live here and bring you up here. You defend your choice, your parents choices etc….. I defend out of “patriotism” .

“However it's just plain ridiculous when you generalize across the expat community.”

Everyone else generalizes about locals; Im just returning the sentiment. When generalizing I am generalizing the majority – there are a minority of expats who in my opinion deserve to be locals – the respect the culture and value its tradition, they speak the language and appreciate the people.

“Today, I am defending Dubai to a good intentional (but sadly ignorant) American born Iranian and her Caucasian husband - because they think UAE is all hype with no substance and is a playground for terrorists/gas prices gaugers/ prostitution and camel jockeys.”

Don’t bother defending anything local to an Iranian – there excuse for questioning us and hating us stems back years – they hate us for being us. Maybe she should go home to IRAN and learn about her president and her people and their major problems. Since when do camel jockeys define a country? Terrorism is relative, hamas and hezballah is a terrorist in the eyes of the west, but we all know that they are just a resistance against an occupation. Ohhhhhh and please, where in the world does prostitution not exist – especially in the states????? Gas prices, well, they are as they are…….

Local expat -

“I pity poor souls like you who always repeat that line: “leave if you don't like it". If you have actually thought this through, you would realize that its the worst thing you want people to do!”

Its not the worst thing I want people to do, it’s the best thing, why live in an area you hate? With people you despise? Find somewhere else that is better than here and us…….. ohhhh, please don’t waist your time pitying me, after all im just a local.

blogrosh said...

SS - "You defend the UAE not because of your “patriotism” but because you defend your choice of living here or your parents choice to live here and bring you up here. You defend your choice, your parents choices etc….. I defend out of “patriotism” "

Sadly this is where we disconnect. Sincerely, your logic had never even crossed my mind till you said it above. You (or for that matter no one has to believe me). I defended UAE because, it 's the land:

- where I took my first breath
- where I've experienced life, and shaped me what I am today
- where I made the best friends for life
- where every memory (fondest & sad) occurred
- where I got my first drivers licence
- where my siblings were born & raised
- where my 2 year old nephew was born & is being raised
- where my dad & mom lived & worked for the past 37 years and finally owns their first HOME
- where I had a home, my garden, my pets, my neighborhood, the trees, the beach, the shawarma outlets - everything, everything I associate myself with.
- for which I shall defend given all the above

If the above does not define care, or in your words "patriotism" - am not sure what does? You are being insensitive mate, it does not require a passport to be patriotic. Patriotism is developed based on the above sentiments & experiences in our lives.

localexpat said...

To SS

"You are a local of the emirates... so am I. You would pick up a gun and fight an invading force? So would I. You would want to bring your child into this world in his/her homeland. So would I."

You think I hate this land? You think that I am 'bitching' about this place? Its called CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISIM.

I say this because I care about this country. I say this because I want it to advance. I want it to improve. If I didn't give a fuck, then I would pack my bags and leave to Canada,Australia,US or UK.

Please don't get me wrong with this: My constructive criticisms of this land is not through blind hatred but through love.

BuJ said...

localexpat ahoy!

Very interesting debate... with regards to naturalising the 10,000 or so bidouns I would like to clarify that these guys are not all Arabs. They originate from Western Africa as well as parts of Pakistan to name a few. Most are Sunni Muslims though, which seems to be a requirement by the UAE government.

Like I said, it's well known that not all "locals" are "locals".. it just depends on when you draw the line. When not where. If you go back 30 years then you get a different set of people than if you go 50 years back or 100 years.

True that the naturalisation program in the UAE is ad hoc, and true that it's a step forward and I feel it's something to be proud of. Let's not forget that Dubai is spearheading all this, and with considerable resistance from AD. Please, everyone, do not expect that with your criticisms the UAE will suddenly have the systems and transperancy of Western countries overnight! The UAE is a young country, very young in fact. The memory of our founder (Allah yir7amo) is still fresh.

As for citizinship issues again, I know a few families (less than 10) that have applied and received UAE citizenship. They are from Palestinian origin, but again they fulfil the "requirements" of being Sunni Muslim and have businesses etc... Most of the newly Emiratised in recent years have been here for 30 years or so.

Interestingly, I know also of a Palestinian Arab belonging to the Christian faith who has built his life and money in Dubai and does not consider any other place in the world as his home. He has been invited to apply for UAE citizenship (even though he's not a Muslim). However, he would have to forego his EU passport (he obtained it thru marriage not residency in the EU). Surprise surprise, he decided to decline the offer of citizenship.

Are all those people moaning and groaning about this place, if you were offered a UAE passport then would you surrender your native nationality and become an Emirati?

localexpat said...

Well said Buj and agree with you totally. its gonna take time and i expect that. I don't think you I ever said in a single part of entries that I expect change to occur overnight. No! But what i would like to see like to see it begin to move in the right direction. that is something I still don't see. A recognition that this system cannot be maintain( refer to my second entry) and that a large number of dubian's exist that need to become naturalised, for the sake of the country and individual( refer to second entry for my explanation)..

blogrosh said...

"Are all those people moaning and groaning about this place, if you were offered a UAE passport then would you surrender your native nationality and become an Emirati?"


Nice post Buj - yes you are correct, if something to the above is implemented, I think it shall filter out folks who truly feel this as home and will willingly give up any international passports.

blogrosh said...

plus perhaps, make it mandatory to enlist & train within armed forces of the country.

BuJ said...

localexpat... thank you.. actually I was aiming my comment at you in general, but the bit about "overnight change" was a pre-emptive defence sheild against would-be moaners and not meant for you (at least not yet)!

blogrosh the military is not mandatory for emiratis.. and from what i hear it does have a small proportion of non-UAE people, mainly of Arab origin.

I wonder what aethoughts thinks of the ideas tossed here...

keep up the good work localexpat

tobasco said...

Nice work Local Expat. I am unfortuntely a former local expat. I say former because I gave up and left to start a new life in UK, so I fully understand where you come from.

Anonymous said...

i am a local of the UK and from my experience when you give asians the papers they will come in large numbers and drain your country of all its resources. If this was 1950, I bet not so many people would be willing to gain UAE papers. But now things are grate then you have the whole world claiming to love UAE.

UK Boy said...

I am a UK 'local'. I have had experience of many kinds of people coming to my country and wanting to setttle down. We have had thousands of Indians, etc coming and flooding the country. Those kind of people only wish to saturate places like flies. With papers they would drain the resources of the UAE. And then they would move on. There is already too many of them here as it is. I say maintain your system as it is other.

Anonymous said...

"We have had thousands of Indians, etc coming and flooding the country. Those kind of people only wish to saturate places like flies."

This from a Brit whose ancestors robbed & plundered Indians 7 Asia for 200 plus years?

" But now things are grate then you have the whole world claiming to love UAE."

If you aren't one amongst "us" - kindly keep your silly & insensitive comments to yourself.