Tuesday, October 23, 2007

oh?

Came across this post on Local Expat's blog.

It's true and funny at the same time. I relate a lot to what he says. It is strange how many newer folks are moving into the UAE today, and more strange that some think the place was perhaps uninhabited 2 decades ago :)

When I was in the UAE this past March-June on project work, every single person at work, would ask - "is this your first time to Dubai" and I'd say, "no, I was raised in the UAE". With a perplexed look, most would ask, rather inquisitively -"how long was that ago, and how old are you?". And to be honest, some are quite fascinated/happy to meet people who were born or raised in the UAE, primarily 'cause, today one hardly comes across many who've been in the UAE for more than 5 years or actually come from the UAE.

I remember this one time last Christmas, whilst at a desert safari campfire & dinner, my friends and I were introduced to some newer expats who've been in the UAE between 2-3 years, mostly from the UK, EU, India and Canada. When friends & I said we were raised in the UAE, they went - "Finally! some people who actually from this place".

The next question/phrase usually goes - "I didn't know people lived here back then, how was it here back in the days".

27 comments:

localexpat said...

LOL :-) so true

nick said...

I didn't know you had a blog!
I know some people like you who've been raised here. I am sure it was a nice cosy tranquil place.
But believe me, in the seventies also Europe was very different from today. I don't think my upbringing would have been much more 'advanced' than yours here.

Al Sinjab said...

So what do you say about "back in the day"?

SevenSummits said...

The UAE most have been so wonderful back then, I wish we could do some traveling through time .... - modernization is a wonderful thing, but not when you completely loose your cultural identity. Unfortunately, I have never been to Muscat, maybe better rush before it is too late :- (

Now compared to you and Nick, I actually grew up in a much less civilized place. :-) (you can really tell, can’t you!)

First in Lagos, which was probably comparable to your childhood days in the UAE and then we moved up north where my dad installed water treatment plants. There was absolutely nothing and my entire childhood was one huge adventure vacation. My parents bought me one of those gorgeous thoroughbred (Arabic) stallions and I spend most of my time with him in the bush chasing baboons or in muddy rivers looking for those small African crocodiles. (Didn#t want to say playing "Apache chief") My school consisted of roughly 10 kids all in different classes and there was a separate private teacher for Latin. There hardly power or water, there was not a single supermarket or restaurant, but I just loved it and didn’t miss a thing!
The best thing was that there was no racism whatsoever – the “locals” just welcomed us with open arms and we few expats were quickly fully integrated into their lifestyle. Mixed marriages did help a lot and actually made things much easier.

We did a lot of traveling on those laterite roads into even more remote areas and I remember that once we needed to stop in a small town to get something to drink. There was absolutely nothing, no water, no soft drinks, except warm Guinness – my mum was concerned, but in the end I got my first beer and slept extremely well for the rest of the trip. :P

Unfortunately, as everyone knows, things have changed and light crude oil in combination with a bunch of megalomaniacs gave the country the rest. What used to be the safest place on earth is now just something else. Armed robberies have become the norm and the situation is deteriorating on a daily basis. Despite all this, there is just such an abundance of creativity (mostly criminal :- )) and immense human capital that maybe, just maybe there will be some hope for the future. (most likely after a serious conflict)

But maybe – we should allow all Emiratis to spend a few days in Lagos, just to get the feeling of a 25 million city – maybe that would do the trick and scare them sufficiently??? Just one of those 7S thoughts ….

rosh said...

Yes LE, quite true indeed :)

Nick - welcome to my humble blog. I know, Europe was tranquil & cosy, my father says it often - he was raised near Bath, a small town west of London. Thank you for your kind words.

Al S, a few aspects I share is that, things were almost perfect minus the glam sham. Not all people were super insane rich, and not all poor either. Life was simple, most had necessities of life & more - yet worldly. I don't think people went hungry or homeless or were miserable. The place was young, peaceful, everyone was learning and in for the ride, together . It was a safe, comfortable and a worldly upbringing - and those with children, couldn't have asked for a better place to bring up their kids.

I could go on, but since you are from RAK, you'd get the jest I suppose?

rosh said...

7S: thanks for sharing those soulful memoirs. Am sure, it must have been heartbreaking to see this place of such sentimental value, be torn apart with much greed & violence. I feel your angst.

Perhaps someday, things shall begin to take a turn for the better.

BuJ said...

Lol, so very very true my friend.

Last week I had a Sri Lankan Eppco guy ask me three times if I was really an Emirati.. and he double-confirmed by asking me where I was born.. when I answered Dubai, Dubai, Dubai he looked satisfied, but I could see that little hint of scpeticism in the corner of his eye.

When I asked him how long has he been in the UAE, he said 2 yrs, and that explained a lot to me.

People do not realise that this place was inhabited back in the 1970s.. oooh.. it's like Columbus thinking America was new.. or worse still - India!

rosh said...

Oooooo the nerve eh! Mr BuJ :) Atleast he believed you. At the DXB airport immigration, some newer/younger folks look at my passport (place of birth portion) then stares at me for a second and stares back at the passport - repeats it a few times, and then with a wide smile, *stamp stamp* and says, "welcome to Dubai" :) Feels so good :)

Wish I had similar reception in NYC - well, can't have it both ways I suppose?

BuJ said...

lol, Rosh, i never get asked that question at DXB airport.. but they always take extra long checking my passport coz i look nothing like an emirati.. my typical day at the immigration desk is being escorted by a kandoora for entering the GCC queue.. after which i explain in english (to confuse the guy) then in arabic (to get thru) that it's the right queue for me.. when i arrive at the guy with the stamp.. they always ask me which airport do you come from.. i used to fly heathrow a lot, but now using birmingham.. so i have to repeat the word a few times coz they haven't heard of it.. you know.. emiratis and arabs in general think London is a country not a city.. anyway.. after the effects of adrenaline have worn off the passport kandoora they usually finish off with "good luck with your studies" or some educational line.. hehe.. at which point i'm 1/2 way across the baggage hall :)

ammaro.com said...

yes, but you have to consider a huge majority of the people in dubai arent originally from dubai, or havent lived there. i lived there between 98-03.... when i left in 03, emirates towers was pretty much the end of dubai... i went back to visit last year and emirates towers was in the MIDDLE of the city. the place has doubled in size in 3 years.

ridiculous.

rosh said...

hahaha lol, I can imagine you being approached and checked upon :) They are just doing their job - and believe me you, of all the countries I've had an opportunity to travel, I haven't been met with more understanding, painless and nicer immigration folks. The women folk usually don't say much except,the few questions and at times offer a welcoming smile, the guys - take that extra amount of scrutiny, but it's all good (touchwood!:)

End of the day they are all doing their jobs - be it in the US of A or UAE.

rosh said...

Ammar, welcome to my humble blog. Very true indeed - it's quite overwhelming, the number of people & businesses moving into the city (not necessarily into all of UAE).

I used to work with an accounting firm whilst in Dubai. Back in 2000, we had an entire floor in an office tower - today, they've occupied 3 floors plus an additional one at DIFC, and are still hiring people, given business growth. Last Christmas, I stopped by the office, and realized of the 400+ people in that office, only 7 were from my time (i.e. pre 2000).

During my days in high school, going to Safa Park was a "road trip" and practically the end of DXB - AUH was another "country" :) People now, live in AUH and work in DXB.

It's all good I suppose, just hope, that old charm & safety, of UAE/DXB etc is maintained.

SevenSummits said...

Rosh, BP sufficiently back down :-)? LOL! You did notice after all that I said “regional security” and did not make any reference to the “general security” in the UAE??? Certainly still one of the safest countries, but when you would draw a graph with a timeline, I bet that you would not like the curve that you will discover. When I actually see news like “The Dubai Court of First Instance yesterday started the trial hearings of three UAE nationals, I.M. (15), A.A. (35), and A.G. (19), who allegedly kidnapped and raped a 15-year-old boy and French national, APC, in July this year.” I do not want to believe that this is Dubai and not NY. (BTW I heard the ages are wrong, not that ot makes me feel better) Let us just hope that things will not “blow up”, but to be honest, things do not look that good. (even from Emirati analysis!)

BuJ check your email account pls.
Somehow I have trouble believing that you are Emirati myself and not because I doubt that the geographical place exited a few decades ago. :-) You come across as being very, very different – in a good way, but just not Emirati. Maybe that is why this dude had his doubts! Unfortunately I was on a mission when you put your “pianist” post on the UAECB and found it quite sad that absolutely no one commented (Rosh where the h*** were you?!) Of course people prefer to get all exiceted about negative examples, but we could at least have managed to stirr a debate on this positive impulse.

Ha and sorry guys:
I always use the GCC queue :- ) in Dubai, I will excuse this obvious indiscipline with the terrible mismanagement of Dubai’s airport and those long queue. Besides starring at all those half naked tourist in shorts and would raise my hot temper.

It works like this: In a country were people are generally shit scared of authority you just have to ooze out a combination of “you can kiss my humble b***”” / “get out of my way” attitude and nobody in such a society would ever dare to stop you.
In fact nobody even ever dared to ask and I am usually having a hell of a time playing with their psychology. Works in Kuwait as well, but queues are much shorter and only decently dressed folks so no need. (last time I was in a hurry so I tried it, just to get to meeting on time after a delayed flight)
Did you guys ever take a closer look at what those immigration champions are tying into their computers and how they fill those blanks with totally obscure information? Take a closer look next time :-)
The males are usually very friendly and polite (superb!), but the women – oh no – Rosh, either you are smashing handsome or hell I do not know how you manage to get a smile. I even managed to get a smile in Iran!!! (plus elsewhere in the world), but the UAE – no chance on this earth - only hostility (usually makes me feel like representing US/Israel/Western combined).

SevenSummits said...

Sorry, pleading forgiveness for a missed spellcheck ... pure improvisation! :-(

rosh said...

Si si, the BP's down again :) Yes, still amongst the safest places indeed.

Yes, I read this story somewhere - it's not the first, neither the last, acts of this sort. Happens everywhere - nevertheless, it makes me wanna puke.

What do you mean by "things will not blow up"? It's very unfortunate what happened, and unless strong doses of Vitamin W isn't involved, the crime shall be punished. Everyone is debating this, even Emi's on facebook, quite transparently, mind you.

"terrible mismanagement" - yalla, what in heavens 've they done to do 7S? They've always been nice to me (touchwood) and I am someone who strongly dislike airports and to an extent, immigration officers. A smile in Tehran, but not a local lady hmmmm?

Errrrr for the record, I did listen to BuJ's piano recordings and commented on them on his blog, ofcourse - and yes, Mr BuJ is quite talented, yet humble about it (just like Ms IYM, whom you scared away) see now I am starting to believe you have little talent with women 7S :)

SevenSummits said...

Rosh,

The analogy to a “time bomb which is just waiting for a spark to trigger a cascade of events” is actually from a Saudi professor in KSU. It relates to the situation in all the GCC countries to a various degree. To go into detail would be way out of this scope, but this sad incident is just one out of many that will show an observer that there are rising frustrations in a society. BTW this has nothing to do with sex whatsoever, even if it looks like it! When or what will trigger the momentum is of course is still unknown and as far as the Emiratis are concerned will also correlate with the ability or willingness of the government to uphold the current social contract. (among many other variables)

Of course better predictions and hence the ability to make suitable recommendations will always depend on local knowledge, because only they can really feel what is happening in their closed societies!!! We (foreigners) can only add the necessary knowledge and practical expertise to this – nothing else. That is also what I said in the other blog – especially in Saudi, but also in the other GCC countries there is a possibility for cooperation and joint research – unfortunately impossible in the UAE. (Unless one would wish to cooperate with a foreigner and take their input as representative for UAE society – Ouch!)

I am a huge fan of BUJs work and I already told him so! Besides I remember seeing the most romantic post in this entire blogosphere on his blog – buuuuuuh :-( - - really sad!!!!
However sometimes I wish that he would give us an Emirati view on some of these debates – nobody can try to sell the idea to me that someone that is so sensitive, cannot “feel” those vibes in Dubai? After all this is his country and why does he prefer to look away when it is slowly being destroyed? His must know that the majority of foreigners couldn’t give a damn, why should they? He must know that the environment will not cope with what is happening forever! In addition, I believe that he is religious, so all those HR violations in his country must be bothering him, since they are plus everything else a contradiction to Islamic thought??! OK, but in a way he is not different from each an every Emirati that I happen to know, because they all just conveniently “look away” in various degrees. After you put that comment about all that racism, I actually send an email to all my Emirati friends/colleagues to ask them simply, if they have noticed a progressive aggressive tendency in Dubai. You would not believe the answers I got – impossible!!! Every short term visitor is coming back with another horror story of traffic, etc. and these guys are living in a bubble? Better wait for your next visit Rosh and let us see, if you will notice some of those changes.

Dubai airport - grrr – Abu Dhabi / Sharjah (Iris scan :- )) are cool – no problem. Dubai is absolute hell – it can take you over one hour to get out. Way beyond my patience!
And hey – I can make everyone smile (so I thought!) male or female – even thou in Iran that was tough. I didn’t want to go, but since my US colleagues were not allowed, I had no options. Immigration was something else, but Iranians are just really nice and you can have a serious debate with them about their politics – no problem.

IYM – I scared her away?! Remember that she attacked me in the first place and besides it is time to grow up and learn how to express your views in a discussion forum. If we would all be acting like this Nick would have scared all of us away, but he didn’t …. Besides the only reason I did not comment on the “Dubai Cares” entry was out of respect for you Rosh – I was fuming and it just proofed my point.

rosh said...

Many shukran for all that 7S :)

Is it possible to email a portion (or all) of this "analogy to a time bomb" research you refer to please? I'd like to spend sometime and 've the privilege to read thru it.

Yes, the culture is conservative and to a large extent closed society, however, things shall change given the increased education, travels, mix of cultures etc amongst it's citizens. You can view some fellow Emi's debates within groups on Facebook. It's anything but closed and all conservative - I think it's open minded and "aware"

Re BuJ: what is sad for you from his post or music, am a bit confused what is it you are saying?

All else (you say in that paragraph) - perhaps has to come from BuJ. I'll just say, people are "aware" of what is going on. It's more complicated than saying, "turning a blind eye".

I was in the UAE last March thru to June, and shall visit again this Christmas. I am aware of the changes, yes, there are many changes, however sincerely cannot sense the "fear" which am sensing from your comments? I mean, I still love being there, despite all the changes, crowd, crazy construction etc all. In fact, so many new people I've met, really like it there, many have said, DXB will be a rocking city once the construction craze dies downs - hence am more confused (and more interested) to read this research from KSA.

Mind you, this does not mean, people are unaware of the issues in the nation - everyone is aware of these. Although I have no say/voice in it, I do have belief, things shall be sorted fairly.

There is Iris scan at the airports? this is recent/new? didn't know....

Re IYM: sadly more of misunderstanding than anything else perhaps. Doing away with all that, all I can say - if you'd both did get to know each other, 7S, you (for sure) would have been quite surprised of a rare & very different Emirati. Anyhow, water under the bridge now.

SevenSummits said...

Rosh, let me start with the easy part. Re: BuJ made a song dedication to someone and that was just so romantic and also way too sad for my taste. (when it comes to love, I prefer only Happy Endings!!! – khallas!) It was absolutely beautiful and obviously I was not the only one that thought so, but I don’t believe that BuJ would be happy, if I linked it here – so if you didn’t see it – tough luck! :P
Reminds me that Steffi did something remarkable and was all over the news in Germany – made me think of you instantly.

The rest is more difficult! When it comes to the reports there is a problem and I will try to explain: Basically everything is classified! Ok, sounds kewl I know, but let me give it another try! If for instance the Saudi Government will call in a team of international experts to convene a research in regards to social problems in some areas in Riyadh they will insist that the outcome of the study remains sealed. This is common procedure in many developing countries and should be respected within the scope of “sovereignty”. The mere fact that for instance Saudi is actually allowing this type of research is a step forward – a huge step! Another - maybe more practical - example is the work of the USGS (you know who they are I suppose?) in the UAE. All their information is classified because basically the government does not want anyone to know the real hydrological situation of the country. While of course, the question of water reserves may also be a question of security (now in this case not human vulnerability, but for a change from a “state security” point of view), the entire issue is a joke, because everyone already knows the situation and there are simply no secrets to be kept.
Trust me that it is not fear, but pure evidence that will make anyone shiver, especially for those that have seen the fatal consequences of mismanagement. Experts have advised the UAE over and over again to be careful, but you just cannot stop megalomaniacs. (The problem here is also partly the West that will play along as long as there is oil and to a lesser extend business – e.g. Halliburton)
I will try to find some information that is basically a summery of what is going on :-) and will be written for a wider audience. (a typical political science paper will be a HR violation)
In the meantime just for instance check out “desalination plants” and take a closer look at the dangers involved. Secondly take a closer look at the public health issues of the UAE (Emiratis!) and you will find a few “the greatest” here as well – it is a good indicator how they did not manage to cope with modernization. (without development! See other post!) Just too tiny variables of the greater picture!

Dubai may be rocking for a short time Rosh, but it will be the Emiratis that will eventually pay the price! Is that really fair????
Please also take a closer look at Nick’s words – behind all those cynical statements, he really knows what he is talking about and trust me that just like me he does care. (Otherwise he would not waste his time to try to get people to think on this blog and his contribution to get a debate going is just noteworthy.)

Facebook??? Isn’t it ironical that Facebook is Jewish :-))))) Well, for me being as old as SJP, I do not engage in “virtual social networking” and prefer real debates, with real people. Blogging is a little different and the UAECB does provide a lot of insides into how drastic things really are. Those intellectuals that I talk to are not representative and most scientists unfortunately forget that. Ehhh – actually when it comes to the “democracy at all costs” fraction, it is maybe the “Our Ruler is busy and HE makes things happen” crowd that they should take a closer look at. (and I bet that the poor girl had no clue why everyone wrote those vicious comments – sort of made me sad as well, because I am sure she had good intention from her own little bubble point of view)

But you are educating me as well :- ) After your comments about NY, I was zapping through my TV and just caught the end of a docu on a wedding in TriBeCa at the humble cost of 200000 USD. Her dress alone was worth 12000 USD and she looked damn ugly in it after all (what a waste!) It was all about trendsetting and God only knows what. In a way I was shocked and we honestly do not have something like this in Germany!

Finally Iris scan: Sharjah 2 years plus??? Dubai and AD not yet!
Anyhow, I don’t mind and that dude in Sharjah was so into German cars that he almost forgot to get be scanned. :-)

Al Sinjab said...

My coworkers and I all needed Iris scans when we arrived in Dubai airport last year. This must be a federal requirement, so I imagine they are in AD too. I don't think they're required for tourist visas though.

SevenSummits said...

Al Sinjab,
I only enter the UAE with a tourist visa or whatever they want to call it. So maybe it is at random, just like the application of the law?

Conclusion: Rosh does not look suspicious enough!

BuJ said...

a lot have commented b4 i have the chance to catch a bloggin breath!

so here goes..

first of all 7S.. thanks but no thanks! i'm deeply offened.. do you mean that Emiratis are not supposed to have character or culture? and if a few slip thru the net, then you should study them for the benifit of all? man.. that's so unfair on every level!

as for piano.. well.. rosh always has nice words to say about my recordings..

but piano is very private for me.. and i don't like performing but i think there's something to be won by blogging about it.. and at the end of the day i only publish about 50% of my works..

i don't consider my music to be palatable to all.. after all ppl are more likely to comment on a post if u say etisalat is shit or that shisha should not be banned.. but if u talk about cultured items u will be shunned and ignored. typical human behaviour.. that's why i guess more people read the Sun than the Guardian.

btw, 7S.. i love iran.. and when i went there i got a lot of smiles.. even from the passport guys..

but i remember when we landed in esfahan airport.. we were told to wait on the tarmac till a bus arrived.. so i took out my mobile (now most of them have cameras) and the armed policeman gave me a harsh stare, and spat some Farsi in my direction.. not understanding the spoken word i put my phone away.. coz his body was talking a very universal language.

even though it was pitch dark.. i couldn't have photographed anything except the shiny revolver he had.. but still.. rules are rules.

BuJ said...

what piano post are u referring to ya 7S? i'm interested now...

all my music has a story behind it.. and i generally give more music and less story on my blog.. but pls let me know which post u were referring to.

as for the uae, it's no utopia and i know it.. but generalising about emiratis is not constructive after all.

SevenSummits said...

BuJ,
Help, where exactly did you read in my comments that Emiratis are not supposed to have character or culture? You cannot be offended about something I never said!
Please let me know how you derived to this conclusion?
I put a very long comment on the UAECB (i* Golden days post) about your culture and the imposed foreign influence – now you are claiming that I said that you never had a culture? This does not make any sense to me!

Fact is that you (all Emiratis in this case) are watching your country being sold out to foreigners and just give me one example where just one UAE national took action. E.g. with this Bollywood dancing on Jumeirah Beach? Just talking about it is not action, doing something is. Perfect example those monks in Burma – very peaceful way of saying “it is enough.”

______________

Re. The romantic post:
Quite a while ago you dedicated an album to a lady “Dedicated to the lady in my thoughts.” and everyone just commented on exactly that, instead of the music. You answered them by saying that she was no longer with you and I found that really sad … anyhow the words you used to describe it. “…she was very much my life.”

Excuse me, but now you are claiming that you do not even remember????? A real disappointment!
Ah, Rosh you were right in what you said today: It’s time to give up believing in true love!

Now, you ruined my week – at least you could have kept the illusion that this was not just a dedication ….

Rosh, help me out here – my worldview is destroyed! –
…urgent need to wipe the dust of my Casablanca DVD and figure out why Ingrid Bergman didn’t stay with him. That is when it all started going down the drain, but I was hoping that in Khaleeji world things are still sort of smooth!

(A real contraction to the assumption that I feel that there is nothing positive about the Arab world!)

BuJ said...

hi S7.. pls excuse the short comment for the time being.. but it's my fault! i meant to sound all sarcastic and silly.. i am not accusing you of anything, so don't worry :)

unfortunately your comments cannot be answered properly with just one paragraph, so i'm going to have to return later when i am a bit more awake!

chuss

BuJ said...

to further elaborate on my last comment.. do not worry mr summits.. i guess germans are similar to americans in that they don't get sarcasm too much :)

i have to point out that there's a price to everything.. for the uae develop you will need to sacrifice things.. i wouldn't view it as "selling the uae to foreigners" coz that's not the right way to see things.. it's the same when emiratis go on about indians sending millions of dirhams back to india. they just fail to mention the flip-side of that coin, and that these people worked hard for this country and spent their time here.. and as you know, age cannot be reversed.

---------------

as for my romantic post, i remember it very well.. it was the dedication to my 10th album.. well.. as you know there's a few months' delay between recording and publishing of my music.. and in these months before the 10th album, a series of bad things happened and as thus i wanted to contribute in a positive way with my dedication. i hope she got to listen to the music, because most of them were recorded for her or in her presence anyway.

seven summits, you might not notice this (and i don't blame you) but most of my musical posts are really dedicated to her.. but i do not like to make things obvious with these things.

for that post.. the only people that actually commented were: Louis, CG, and Oya.

Anyway.. i've written more than i should have.. and i'm thinking i should include this in an e-mail rather than here.

happy days for all.

SevenSummits said...

Ehmmmm BuJ –
I really did not get the sarcasm in your post and am maybe also a little sensitive (better super emotional!) about the topic. It drives me up the wall that people rather prefer all those materialistic Westerners (or foreigners in general) that can be corrupted with cash and in return will do the sandal licking performance and produce all types of distorted evidence. (e.g. manipulating the statistics, which can so easily be done in the UAE with a huge foreign proportion) Sincerity is not exactly welcome and that is why I like Saudi so much, because they may laugh at your criticism or show you a red card, but in the end they have a lot of respect and appreciation for “honesty”. (Of course many of them – the people I deal with - are well educated and have had a lot of exposure)

Usually, I am the cynical person on this blog and now I will reserve the right to be sulking for a while.

So now you are taking the “I forgot about the dedication” thing back – ok, I didn’t have a chance to watch Casablanca yet, because Washington gave me a sincere bashing on not yet submitting a paper on urbanization/poverty alleviation. Rosh will be able to relate to the undertone of those bashings – they can put you straight back into reality.

PS: There is no difference between US citizens, Germans or other Europeans – we are all from the same background and imposed our way of being on anyone else that happened to either already hang around (as in natives) or was involuntarily imported (as in Afro-Americans). Small subcultures may still exist, but somehow we did master the assimilation process quite well.

rosh said...

7S: you raise some valid points, on assimilation, culture, my fav topic "materialistic foreigners" and yes, also Casablanca.

I have lots to share - please pardon & bear with me a few days, work commitments (and bunch of lawyers am working with) is killing me soft & slow - painfully slow. I'd like to express with a calm, collected and less cluttered mind.

I tell you people, "slavery" ain't over yet - well atleast not "corporate" slavery :)