Saturday, November 24, 2007


Recently Movie Mania and CG had posts on "understanding" amongst all those you live/make up the UAE community.

Besides safety, the opportunity to understand someone from another culture, religion or background was a primary asset to those who grew up in the UAE. The ability to understand, comprehend and to an extent, accept differed ways of life is something which has helped most folks from the UAE, adapt better to foreign shores/travels.

My circle of friends comprised mostly of South Asians, Arabs and English - most of whom were Muslims & Christians and some Hindus. Often we understood the ways of life and cultures amongst our homes were "different" - however, each amongst us, learned to understand and therefore accept & respect such ways of life. Often, I'd have questions on certain aspects within my community/family as much as my Muslim/Hindu friends and in a way, we helped each other understand better.

Am not saying, we lived in perfect understanding, awareness & harmony with each other - quite honestly, most of us as children tried to do that and more, as any child growing up in such environment could. However, I've always sadly, accepted our parents lived within individual communities, for the most part.

But then, cultures always evolve - and given the prospect of having children grow up amongst a mixed community it shall give rise to a new culture of sorts, which is what I think exists in many fellow "uaeians" today. I believe Local Expat is a prime example.

Perhaps am going on a rant - the purpose for this post, was to direct some sense to disturbing comments at UAECB and SD's blog, 'cause most often it boils down to US v/s them. There is much hate & angst, and often am not sure where most of it is coming from. I don't think I've heard or felt such vibes growing up in the UAE. Most people who've lived there for many decades, still prefer living in the UAE - yes cost of living has gone up, so have traffic issues - but UAE continues to provide a safe, pleasurable place to live & raise a family. It is by no means perfect, there is much to do on several freedom aspects, equality, continued women empowerment, pollution controls, amongst much else to work on - however slow & steady things shall move towards the right direction, I believe that.

All said - nobody is perfect, a community has it's set of pros & cons. It's about taking an effort to reach out and understand one another - after all we are people, whose lives perhaps is created from the same source/creator, but born into different homes & cultures.


Inspire Your Mind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosh said...

OK thanks, IYM - but this post is not about you, per say : ) instead "all" those who make up the UAE today.

If you read my comments in piecemeal you shall take it out of context, hence not a fair reflection of this post.

Having said that, anyone/everyone who knows you, shall say, you've got more brains/balls (and I do not mean that literally) than the average man or woman - so please step in and shell out your two fils on "intent" of this post, do not "noodle" out please :)

Inspire Your Mind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rosh said...

IYM, what issues are you talking about? There isn't absolute freedoms in the UAE or in most places, everybody knows that. I am not saying it is a good thing or otherwise.

Moreover, I said "continued" empowerment of women - and I'd think, you would know, empowerment of women is an ongoing process anywhere in the world from America to Africa - hence, back to my comment, please read the post in it's entirety.

The intent of this post is to bring about continued understanding, added debate/awareness to "all" those who make up UAE today i.e. how can all foreigners, locals, uaeians and so on, learn to co-exist by understanding, respecting one another - lessen the divide/perception of US v/s them. If comments at UAECB is anything to go by, then there exists an understanding gap in the UAE more so today, compared to the days we grew up.

Yes am aware you shall not "noodle" out.

moviemania said...

Good post, rosh. I wanted to know more about your opinion on this matter.

I think there is work to be done on both sides. People should stop thinking the UAE is a utopia and recognize that there are some serious issues that need to be dealt with. Also, people should understand that it isn't such a hellhole as some make it out to be and should understand that it has come a long way from how it started out as.

Inspire Your Mind said...

Thanks Rosh for your clarification.. I didn't need that..

I'll leave the discussion field to the rest of your fellow bloggers.. I don't think I need to be part of this..

Excuse my commenting anyways..

BuJ said...

some of these things start because i feel people do abuse the power of the net and blogging and think they can get away with murder. no one takes responsiblity for their words, although some people observe reasonable self-censorship.. most people out there with half a blog say whatever they want whenever they want thus contradicting themselves and generally doing more harm than good in the long run.

i'm not an anthropologist or social scientist, so will not really pretend to be one here.. but all i know is that equilibrium has to be restored and it shall be restored.

like we were taught in college, you need to know and understand EVERYTHING before you switch on that powerful engineering software. Coz rubbish in equals rubbish out, and that my friend I'm afraid is the case with some blogs around here, and the comments on some of them.

the real nick said...


But then, cultures always evolve - and given the prospect of having children grow up amongst a mixed community it shall give rise to a new culture of sorts, which is what I think exists in many fellow "uaeians" today.

Don’t confuse the singer with the song.

On a personal level I have found life in the UAE always remarkably free of aggression. There is peaceful co-existence not only among children.

The song however, when it warbles across the UAECB and SD blogs plays a different tune. The reason is that the tolerance / indifference on the personal level is not reciprocated and ‘institutionalized’ on a formal level.
There is one culture and one religion that claims – rightfully or not, wich is another blog issue altogether – the supreme legal and moral highground over others.

Yes, we can live next to each other and our kids can play with each other and we can understand each others cultures, but then it always comes to crunchtime at one point or another when we foreigners as residents with financially and socially vested interests are denied freedoms and reminded of our unequal and temporary status.

This grates. Because we, in the ‘West’, assure equality to all indigenous and foreign residents and citizens, and should we not expect reciprocity here?

I understand the anxieties of the small indigenous population. I understand the desire to remain close to each other and guard their privileged position and original culture and resist dilution of their values.

This doesn’t mean I have to like it.

This doesn’t mean I will not continue to propagate democratic equality and rights, even at the peril of the literal annihilation of the indigenous population by immigrants.

Understanding is one thing. Respect, acceptance and love quite another.

rosh said...

MM: thank you for that. I couldn't agree more. Like in every place, UAE has it's set of issues, which need to be focused & worked on. It is not an unpleasant place by any means - all those who grew up there (and lives elsewhere today)shall vouch for that.

BuJ: I agree, just because one can blog, doesn't mean accountability goes out the door. It's horrific reading some comments from both aspects - anyone with half a pea brain, shall realize, anger/hate hurled towards one another is never productive. Blogs can truly be a productive tool if used with positive intentions, I think.

Nick - it is "different" in the UAE, am not saying that is correct or otherwise. Today, as much angst I feel over the lack of "belongingnes" on paper, I understand & accept (to a large extent) why it is done, and has to be.

Re: equality, yes, it has to be worked on - give it time, believe me we've come a long way from the 80's. Understanding, helps pave the way towards acceptance & respect. It's imperative to keep a higher degree of understanding in a progressing nation like the UAE, as oppossed to the West. There is a lot of good & heart here.

Al Sinjab said...

there exists an understanding gap in the UAE more so today, compared to the days we grew up

So just my two fils from the salty backwaters of Ras Al Khaimah.

I think a lot of the western expats who move here now are attracted by the Dubai name brand. Whereas before, a lot of them came to RAK exactly because it lacked that, because it was an unknown. And with that in mind, maybe people who move here now are less interested in cultural dialogue? RAK isn't too extreme like this, but I see it heading that way.

I also think that as a teenager people here might be more willing to put prejudices aside. Now people often assume I am just another westerner here to make bucks, which couldn't be further from the truth.

Al Sinjab said...

Not to be a negative nancy, but I do have known UAE toddlers who use words like 'hindi' and 'misri' as insults. Maybe it doesn't suit everyone to grow up here.

So sad!

The Blog Sheikh said...

Provocative post Rosh…

There is a gap between locals who have been around from very early in the UAE’s existence and remember the harsh UAE environment before the great wealth and the young locals today who are living in a multicultural Emirates.

That gap, say locals born between 1978 and 1988, remember a comfortable and wealthy UAE without the huge # of expats we see today. In other words they don’t know what the UAE used to be (harsh) and don’t know what it will become (different).

rosh said...

Sinjab - I couldn't agree more. I feel the level of understanding or ability to accommodate was more back in the days, as opposed to today. As for those insult bits, it's always been there - some folks, no matter what, just don't have that ability to understand & blend in and perhaps never shall.

blog sheikh: hello again - am not sure how it's provocative? The post wasn't about locals, but the general populace which make up UAE today. Multi-culturalism is in the increase, unfortunately understanding is on a decline, I think. I've had a few personal experiences whilst in the UAE the to support that sentiment.

That said, the gap can be addressed via dialogue and better level of understanding between communities in the UAE, it's quite possible.

I understand what you say of the gap within the local community - I suppose it's a given, especially with the sheer volume of change. It's perhaps more hard on them/you - than anyone else.

Al Sinjab said...

What about gender?

Growing up here, I had many male friends from all over. As a young women here now, I will simply not speak to men I don't know. They may be trustworthy, but so many of them aren't that I don't risk it. Some women do, but they often have bad experiences which cause them (or others) to make negative generalizations about the entire culture and no doubt it works both ways.

I will speak freely to women, but it is a lot more difficult to meet women here. By no means impossible of course, but it may take more effort.

So what about all this? [How] Can this be changed?

SevenSummits said...

Let me start by saying that I totally agree with Rosh's statement that growing up in a foreign, even better multicultural society is by far one of the biggest assets in life one could wish for. Preferably, however, if this society would assure equality and would be at least sort of free of racism. Unfortunately the UAE have always "tagged" human beings – even among themselves – and as we can all witness in blogosphere, nothing much has changed. (Funny I learned entirely new vocab on this blog – before I did not even know that there are "brown" people or "desis"?)

In this respect, I must adhere to everything Nick has already stated earlier and it would be interesting to know, how his son is perceiving /coping with the existing segregation / classification? Is there actually serious interaction with UAE nationals at his school child age? Or only with the rest of the international community? Does he get invited to Emirati houses to have maybe lunch and play? I sort of have my doubts, that Nick and his wife (or anyone else) actually get invited for a family barbecue, but somehow hope that it is different for children?

So we can obviously conclude that integration has seriously failed and segregation is still the norm. You can easily see that by locking into any coffee shop, where you will see tables full of Emis and tables nicely mixed with everyone else! How does one expect serious dialogue in this environment?

Blogs nowadays represent a pretty good reflection, of the general atmosphere within a society and they are being studied continuously by numerous scientists. People feel "uncensored" to express what they feel and therefore that junk that we read is maybe repelling, but also a serious sign of accumulated frustrations. A really good tool that none of you will have access to (I suppose - you all use your private rides?!) is a serious conversation with taxi drivers. If you want to know what is happening in any given town in the world, speak to them! In the UAE you will here even more serious frustrations that will go way beyond blogoshere.

What has gone wrong? Well, wherever integration has failed we can witness the negative results – just remember the horrible situation in Paris! Ok, fine – the UAE minority is pushed into a corner and who wouldn't bite in the same situation??? The only question is why do they keep on making "us" responsible for this situation, instead of realizing that those to blame should be searched elsewhere? It is almost like the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis – both sides are busy with searching for someone to blame for an anticipated "failed outcome", instead of trying to search for constructive solutions.
In general everything that is said about the UAE that does not fall within the "biggest, tallest, greatest" glittering imagine, is instantly labeled as UAE bashing. This can be witnessed in blogs or even in direct interaction with nationals. As soon as you raise a critical issue – let us say youth unemployment – you will instantly get a denial as in "not true" and a sulking, emotional response. (very female behavior from males?) That is usually the point where I push my colleagues in front and let them do the "dirty work"! (I am not that patient and arrogance just really infuriates me!) Yet, this behavior is very typical for extremely underdeveloped countries (and the UAE fits into this category, because your development is foreign!) and trust me that I am so fed up with hearing those excuses. Usually it is the British colonial masters that need to take the blame (no matter how many years ago), besides the fact that all those countries were much better off at their time of independence. Nobody ever gets the drift that greed, corruption and mismanagement screwed it all up! So, if anyone is coming with – "we are a young nation" – it is just a red flag for me, because with all those financial resources you could have done a lot better. Just one simple hint "city planning"! Now not everyone got a chance to start from scratch and old cities like Istanbul, now face serious challenges to get their problems figured out. Nick will be much better suited to comment on good examples, but numerous capitals where planned 30/40 years ago and none of them screwed up as badly as Dubai. (From scratch to chaos) Yet, such a statement will be considered hostile and unless I would rephrase it to "Dubai is the most beautiful city (aka construction site) in the world" we are in trouble.
Yet this does not answer the question and honestly I doubt that there has been enough sociological research into the matter (obviously not possible in the UAE) that would provide us with suitable answers. (well there has been sufficient research into the rentier mentality/ethics, but nothing yet on interaction with other cultures)

Here just a list of open questions:
- Why still the segregation? Is it maybe fear or insecurity??? (NeoNazis only operate in groups as well, so there we go!) Why so few cultural intermarriages? Why the continuous ethnic bickering among the GCC – you are almost all related, where is the problem?

- Lack of education / ability to critical thought? (something the local tertiary education system still does not provide) Very important for every developing country is the ability for students to go and study abroad!!! This will help a young person to mix, learn how to be independent and develop an open mind – still many Emiratis in the past spend an isolated time during their university years – sometimes even with the burden of a family already imposed on them. So no fun, play, getting l*** (ah, sorry you don't do that one! :P) and have a great time with endless discussions on campus - like the rest of us. But how will the new generation feel, when they go back to their restricted environment with no freedom of expression? Will that make them so angry that they will turn even more against the foreigners or maybe the opposite?

Got a few more, but this post is definitely getting too long :- ) ... sorry!

SevenSummits said...

Al Sinjab,
is that a squirrel???? Emmmh - UAE? (got lots of them in my garden and really like those little troublemakers – except in summer, when the eat all those nuts :- ) – I did not get a single one last year!)

So what about all this? [How] Can this be changed?
Was that question only related to gender? I believe that it falls into the general tag issue. Male/female relations in the UAE are also a victim of intolerance and racism. Western women are almost always labeled as cheap (no matter how religious, innocent, etc.) and I suppose that everyone else falls into some type of bracket. Moroccan, Lebanese, Egyptian, Russian, Iranian, etc. There is this ongoing discussion about female oppression and while I would argue that this has nothing to do with Islam or wearing a hijab, it is still not entirely "her choice" of how she will live her life. Society is watching and with lots of free time on their hands, they are judging, labelling and condemning. My colleague just allowed her daughter to drive in Al Ain and this alone already created a major problem. Naturally I would say that this would change, if nationals – especially women - would be more integrated into the workforce – because after working a 10 hour shift plus traffic, people stop gossiping by themselves. (too tired!) Also a higher education will have the same effect – so we will be back to the same basics.

BuJ said...

ya Seven Summits.. your comments read like a whole volume of blog posts.. i'd really be scared to imagine what your books and papers read like.

i'm afraid with my very short attention span i find it hard to focus on the very valid points that you raise. anyway just a friendly observation :)

as for the UAE.. well i don't think i have the energy to reply to this properly, but i tell you this.. the situation is very artificial in the UAE and the factors are many.. not one group of people are to blame. however in the big scheme of things, the UAE has managed to do well (compared to other countries around) in the short run. The trick now is to translate that to long-term growth etc.

For example would you like to get stuch with a UAE or a Saudi border immigration officer?

As for city planning.. well.. I think Dubai is very well-planned in general (again compared to other Arab cities, say) but that does not mean there are quite big mistakes that need sorting out.

E.g. why wasn't the metro built 10 yrs ago? why is there a big landfill near this new land that has been designated as a site for a housing project? why build 3 palms and 1 world when you can just build one and learn from it in the long term? Also i much prefer the idea of building INWARDS.. e.g. dubai marina as opposed to building outwards. the soil is more stable, the sea-shore is improved, and marine life is enhanced not destroyed, and we have almost limitless desert to fill with Gulf waters. For the record, that doesn't mean I support the idea for this new Arabian Canal just yet.

Al Sinjab said...

7S, your comments may ring very true for Dubai, which is why I was curious.

In Ras Al Khaimah, Emirati children did invite friends over to play with them and vice versa. It is probably still that way, as far as I know. In primary, secondary and tertiary schools, it is still quite normal for teachers to be invited for students birthday parties and big events (weddings, dinners).

In our one and only Starbucks you will see Emiratis sitting with a mixed group of friends. Of course there is still some segregation but no more than amongst other groups I think.

But again, this is an emirate where 40% of the population is Emirati and they represent the largest national group so it is interesting to hear the situation in other emirates.

Al Sinjab said...

Regarding gender, I don't think see it as a matter of oppression.

I guess what I am getting at is that even when people go beyond nationality the question of gender remains. Men don't seem as concerned about where I'm from as much as they are about the fact that I'm female. This is not just my experience, but that of many women from different nationalities and backgrounds.

I admit that I feel a little jealous of my male friends, who can go and have conversations without this ghost looming over them. I feel men have the ability to meet more people and cross cultures a little more often.

Granted, I could do that with women but you are less likely to meet women than men here.

Is this a Ras al Khaimah phenonmenon?

SevenSummits said...

Ah, sorry BuJ – will try to improve! My excuse is that I read hundreds of pages every day and therefore lost the sensitivity that others might feel uncomfortable with lengthy comments: :O :O ;-) :-> Scientif papers are usually limited to a certain number of pages and books usually get edited, so that they make better reading. :-) Hey, should I suffer you through a paper of a sociologist- he, he ....

I wish I had the talent of Nick to say so much in three words, as in "He's dead?", (I would have need about 550 words to say the same thing) but than only a small fraction understood his comment and it ended up getting censored for no excusable reason whatsoever.

Ah, what a question, you know me! SAUDI of course , where is the challenge with those friendly dudes that all know a few words of German in the UAE????? :- )

Al Sinjab, that was really interesting – thanks!
So we could compare contemporary RAK to Dubai maybe 30 years ago? BuJ will be able to answer that, I hope?! So your analysis will conclude that if the demographic imbalance will be sorted out - things would in theory improve? That could be correct, because in Saudi, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait things are much, much better – even AD has a friendlier atmosphere. I have been invited many times to meet my colleague's parents and their extended families in those countries – having dinner on the floor included. Just loved it and there was open and honest friendliness – well besides the fact that everyone always wants to get me married! :-(

But there could be two other variables as well:

"Development" – the development level of my colleagues in those countries is much higher, so they have interacted with foreigners for a long time. But that does not correlate with the situation in RAK!

Income disparity: That would explain RAK, but does not correlate with Saudi and Kuwait!

the real nick said...

My tuppence worth.

I was in Dubai from '97 to 2000 and when I came back five years later I picked up with the same Emirati friend like I'd never been away. If at all possible, he was even more proud of the achievements than before – and that’s a feat!

The idea seems to be to become a proper metropolis and he and other locals I have met take the rough with the smooth. I reckon that change is welcomed.

In addition, there is a severe case of 'Emperor's new clothes'- syndrome: You won't hear a local say anything critical about Dubai's rulers, even though they will complain about small side effects like traffic.
The social and peer pressure is palpable. The ol’ Arab love-hate relationship with their LEADERS - LOL!

Comparing Dubai with RAK is like comparing Arsenal with Reading FC. Same league, but worlds apart.
Over the last two years I have shared some time (and steamed sheep and Bebsi ) with members of the ruling family (as clients).

I have found the RAKians (and that's the royals) friendly yet diffident, unprofessional and simple people and a bit stubborn. Drawn between tradition and their yearning for development.

Mountain people in short, compared to the sly pearl trading Baluchi bastards.

the real nick said...


"sly pearl trading Baluchi bastards"

is of course meant to explicitly exclude members of the Highest (and tallest) High Royal Family. And any good Muslim. And anybody really who could take issue and sue me.
And BuJ, of course.

moviemania said...

7S - first of all, BuJ is right it's really hard to get through your long comments sorry about that! :)

but this caught my eye:

while I would argue that this has nothing to do with Islam or wearing a hijab, it is still not entirely "her choice" of how she will live her life. Society is watching and with lots of free time on their hands, they are judging, labelling and condemning.

I don't know about many Emirati women, but I feel this strongly. Whatever I do in Dubai I have to watch my back, I have to be careful that I'm following societies rules. From a young age the way I think and am always separated me from my other Emirati friends. I used to be in a private 99% local school and then transfered to an international school where I became a minority. But I was a lot more comfortable there.

It's not really a problem of integration in the workplace, the government is actually trying very hard to encourage women to join the workforce and give many generous grants for education and start up capital for businesses to young women. It's only the problem of society that I think (and I've seen) is primarily holding a lot of women back (not all).

the real nick - In addition, there is a severe case of 'Emperor's new clothes'- syndrome: You won't hear a local say anything critical about Dubai's rulers, even though they will complain about small side effects like traffic.

Yes, this is a huge problem. As a person I almost never trust any type of politician and seeing people almost worship the sheikhs concerns me deeply. They know almost nothing of these people and they have photos everywhere and would never dare say a word against them. It annoys me deeply when people waffle on about how great so -and-so is. I know our leaders have done a great deal, but not all of them have. Only because they're royalty doesn't mean they should all be supported.

It's frustrating, but as rosh said we've come a long way since the '80s and I'm sure things will change and improve as the days go by, it just needs time.

rosh said...

WOW, several comments - nice ! :)

Al Sinjab - re:gender, same here mate. Most friends were male, from different nationalities. Interaction with females usually occurred whilst away at school (and as a child, with kids from the neighborhood). As we grew older, female friends, declined. It's a given because we grew up in a conservative society/environment. However once you start university, career and subsequent socializing - there aren't similar restrictions (well atleast as an expat). The level of male/ female segregation & interaction (to a large extent) does not exist.

Having said that, there exists a degree of "restraint" whilst approaching strangers. As a man, women folk (from most nationalities) have asked me for directions, help with some casual labour/task, often involving grocery bags - and the like. The level of male/female interaction shall gradually ease up with time, continued exposure & interaction - for instance the level of interaction today is much different than what it was 20 years back.

rosh said...

7S: it took me a whole day to read your "thesis" : ) Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'll keep this as short as possible.

Fully realizing, in the UAE, we've got tags "from western educated" to "Indian Accountant" etc - I must add, tags exist everywhere in all sorts. So you know, brown people or desis is more a North American/Western tag, not a UAEian tag : ) Personally I think tagging is harmless if there is continued integration and used as a means of positive reference. Most friends here in the city, usually identify someone using a tag - such as "that Latin girl, English guy, German lady or a Desi dude" etc.

Re: interaction with Emi children. As a child interaction with Emis was limited to neighbourhood kids and the few who attended junior and senior high. A fundamental flaw we have, is that there are "local" , "Indian", "Pakistani", "British" and other Western schools - unfortunately, as a child this is where segregation starts and an opportunity for "understanding gap" to take place. I think it's imperative to have a UAE school system, perhaps developed with curriculum from different backgrounds - but predominantly UAE based i.e. 101 UAE history, culture, Arabic as mandatory etc.

Growing up, I have had two close Emi friends, whom I've know since childhood. Interaction with them have been no different compared to any other Arab or Asian friends - we did road trips, camping, shared secrets and sorrows etc all. As a child, I had more Emi neighbours, who would come over with food during Ramadan and mom would take over her Christmas cakes during Christmas - however, given the society as such is conservative & young, interactions were sort of limited to that, and the occasional smiles, hellos and greetings near the drive way. Subsequently - most folks moved to other neighbourhoods.

Today, there are more opportunities for continued integration - for instance my (3 year old) nephew attends kindergarten with kids from all backgrounds . Amongst his few new found friends (whom he often talks to his mom about) he has an Emi friend, Rashid & an Arab "girl" friend, Rania, whom, I think he fancies : )

UAE is a young country - and I know you hate hearing this, but this is not a lame "excuse". We all need time to develop, learn, understand and comprehend. Cultures, perceptions, thought processes cannot change like traffic lights. Have to give it time 7S, most often it's all on the correct track.

As for the last 3 paragraphs, I am not sure, I follow it well, however shall circle back with a thought or two.

rosh said...

"Male/female relations in the UAE are also a victim of intolerance and racism"

7S: assuming am reading your comment correctly, surely, you realise UAE is a conservative nation/society. To a large extent, the nation comprises of local populace, other Arabs & South Asians most of whom are from conservative cultures. Whilst in the UAE, I would/could not start a conversation with a woman with similar ease, as I would in NY - because the cultures are different. It's does not mean am racist.

Again - give it time, all cultures and people evolve with time.

rosh said...

I promise to read/respond to all other comments - working on a M&A deal, lots monies and peoples jobs involved, hence going thru some stress decisions & deadlines Please bear with me.

I quite honestly don't get capitalism, mergers & acquisitions - rich just gets richer, and the average/poorer folks, gets poorer - argh!

rosh said...

7S: "Western women are almost always labeled as cheap (no matter how religious, innocent, etc.)"

Hmmmm, not true always - there are inter-racial marriages in the UAE.

BuJ: true one group of people are to blame - in fact, I don't think anyone is to "blame". It's just the way how things have always been for some reason. I don't know why Arabs, Asians and Westerners - never sort of interacted with each other on a much broader scale. There was no restriction to speak off i.e. a law or why each society kept to itself is still not clear to me....besides, perhaps the society was largely conservative perhaps?

Re: Dubai city planning, I don't know anything about it anymore. From the looks of it, it looks & feels, quite well planned and light years ahead of other Emirates.

Sinjab: RAK has more local folks. It is also a small Emirate. SHJ used to have more local folks back in the day, it was sort of like RAK. There certainly was more interaction amongst all communities in SHJ back in the day. Today, it seems more isolated interactions, especially amongst the older generation. Mom had varied multi-cultural set of acquaintances 20-30 yrs back, than today.

Plus I don't think what you say is a RAK phenomenon - it's just that way in most Emirates and perhaps across the GCC - DXB being the exception.