Thursday, May 19, 2005

Walk in our shoes: strangers in our own land :: 7DAYS

Read the whole thing. It's a long article written from the perspective of the Emirati women pictured below.
A few quotes:

1. "As Arab nationals we believe that many nationals, like expatriates, are enjoying the international environment that has evolved in Dubai and are prospering. However, we are also beginning to feel that not all expatriates are happy with the fact that UAE nationals are living in this cosmopolitan place called Dubai. We are increasingly coming to feel that we are being pushed out of our own land as expatriates try to make Dubai and the UAE a reflection of where they have come from."

2. "What we are growing increasingly concerned about is the attack that is taking place on our culture. Every land has culture and traditions that everyone should respect, yet in the UAE our culture seems to be treated like a doormat and ignored by the guests living here who continually try to supplant our culture and traditions with theirs. Shouldn’t everyone respect the culture and traditions of those places they visit? Isn’t it unwise to suppose that your culture is better or more correct than ours? The question we have is why some expatriates in the UAE are not treating us the way we treat them when we are guests in their countries?"

3. "One of our greatest peeves is with the actions of some expatriates in public places. Fatima Al Saadi, a Zayed University student, asks why can’t people just be decent? "For example, some people kiss in public, which for us is considered a highly offensive act. It has started happening everywhere with no limits and seems to be getting out of control. We feel very embarrassed when we see people in such acts, especially when we are with our family. I would like to emphasise that we are not comfortable with having our children see that. Children are vulnerable and they imitate what they see. This is going to distort what we teach them about the Islamic and Emirati cultural values. A little respect please." Maryam al Obaid feels that modesty starts with what we wear and maybe some expatriates need to think again about what modesty means."

4. "I no longer feel comfortable jogging around in my neighbourhood like before. I live in a mixed neighbourhood and more often than not when I pass expats exercising, like me, I am the victim of malicious sneers and comments." Maryam Al Obaid has observed similar common disrespect by expats. "It seems to have become normal to have a blonde lady served before me at a retail store even if I arrive before her. It has become very normal to be treated with a frown and the smile only appears when a Westerner enters the shop! We are being treated in a way that simply is not appropriate. We are really concerned!"


Blogger EclectEcon said...

1. Welcome to Canada. The cultural diffusion that has occurred with increased globalization and the internationalization of the media is slowly making the world, not just the U.S., into one large melting pot. It is a relief to me, living in Canada, to see that people in other countries are facing this problem, too, but it looks as if in the UAE the ex-pats are not so predominantly from the US, and so the US is not held exclusively responsible for the devolution of local cultures.

2. This increased and inevitable globalization does mean it is excusable to ignore the mores and culture of a host country when one is a guest. By the same token, I would hope that immigrants to Canada would expect to follow our laws and customs.

6:01 PM  

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