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 :-)