Dubai has, what I think, the highest concentration of half-castes anywhere in the world. I do apologise if any of you got offended by the term half-caste, it was only recently that I found out that I could be considered as a derogatory term. But I have never considered to be so and in fact did not know of any other words that I could use. This is one indication of the multi-ethnic aspect of the city. This characteristic of the society is also extended to the dating scene. In school, and even now, I knew a lot of people who were dating someone who are not from a similar backgrounds, be it religion, nationality, ethnicity or a combination of them. Personally, I have never dated someone from similar scio-ethnic backgrounds.
Some end in a break up and some eventuates into a marriage. But what do you think would happen if we spice up this typical scene. What if a female emeriti were to date a Subcon. What if, they wanted to get married? I asked the same question in a previous entry but here is one response from moviemania, a female Emarit blogger, on her blog:-
.....we were just discussing this and my mom said mixed culture marriages never work.
"Well, they are difficult, but I mean.. It's easier if an Eastern person marries someone from another Eastern culture. Like, I could marry an Indian person, I don't see their culture as too different from ours." I added.
"What? No, never! I would never allow that to happen! Indian? Are you kidding! They're different!" my mom snapped back.
In fact this behaviour, albeit it a xenophobic, is not limited to one ethnic group. I have notice a similar pattern across the sociological divide in Dubai. This conflict seems to extend from the cultural gap that exists between the generations: Parents who moved here decades ago and their localexpat children. These kids, just like me, have probably attended an ethnically diverse school where in some cases you had students from over 50 nationalities attending the school. I still remember how race and ethnicity had a small influence on who you would date (or wanted to date) at school. The main factor was ‘’popularity’’ and “coolness’’, typical of most high school kids around the world ;-) Growing up in such an environment has left its mark on me even to this day. I have rarely considered race, ethnicity, skin colour or religion to be an issue when selecting my dates, friends, colleagues or any individual that I have to interact with.
Mind you, I am not ignorant of the fact that culture and background does have a significant influence on the relationship between people. But what it shouldn’t do is be the sole determinant or as one of my friends put it: The filter. The vast majority of people have a filtering system whereby they prejudicially filter people they interact into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘like’ and dislike’(also called negative stereotyping). Here is a scenario typical of numerous companies in UAE:-
- At work
Assistant 1:Hey, I just got this application for the vacancy we have in the office should I show it to the boss
Assistant 2: They meet the criteria?
Assistant 1 : To me he does.
Assistant 2: Where is he from?
Assistant 1: Syrian.
Assistant 2: Oh don’t bother. You know that the first thing he will consider is the nationality and then reject the application without even bothering with his qualifications just because he can’t stand Syrians.
As much as I recognise how ubiquitous prejudice and negative stereotyping is among all cultures of the world, I can’t help but hope and believe that this should not be the case. I believe that prejudice and negative stereotyping should not play a role in forming first impressions or relationships. I hope that this will be so.
Because even I recognise that what I am preaching is truly unattainable.