Having lived in the MiddleEast all my life, I have often questioned my own identity. Sometimes I have to convince myself and look deeper into my roots. The Gulf countries have been our “foster” homes for decades and decades. As much as we have put into them, they have equally benefitted us. It is a foster home, but just how prepared are we, to actually accept our foster home regulations ?
I can almost never include Dubai as a part of the “rest of the middle east” region. The similarities end with the topography, geography, climate, roads, road signs, bridges, building structures, language, national dress and thats that. Dubai has been more “accepting” in nature. The local people have opened doors and opened arms to embrace us. Perhaps, more than they should. There are, however “those differences” between them and the rest, that really bothers. The difference between the rest and here, is that two most “sinful” things are permitted to be sold over here, which I patiently hope and pray would be abolished inshallah.
Some more similarities : The joys of hearing the Adhaan at every prescribed time in every corner of the country, the deserted streets at the time of Iftaar in Ramadhan, the fact that every public toilet is equipped with water for istanjah, the freedom of not having to justify being a muslim are just a few of the key points I love about being here. Dubai pampers us. Us, the expat and us the local community.
However when we came here over 2 decades back, things were not as “naked” as they are … there were’nt so many radio channels “questioning and almost mocking authority” … … .. there was genuine respect for the culture. Radio channels and tv channels, interrupted for the Adhaan break. Today, even the malls dont bother to run the adhaan audio at the prescribed times. People refrained from eating in Ramadhan becoz they cared for their muslim fellow collegues or friends. Today, lavish iftaar parties are hosted by corporates but if one of the employees keeps a beard, he is easily and totally “targetted on the hit list” as being a “fundamentalist”. People disregard “Ramadhan courtesies” ~ People conveniently eat and drink on the roads etc without any regard for the authorities. Non muslims take advantage of the short working hours, eat openly during office meetings infront of muslim fasting collegues and still, grumble that they are inconvienced by the Ramadhan routines !!!
It saddens me to see that inspite the malls displaying graphic images of proper dress code for women, still they conveniently violate rules, “baring” the skin even in winters as a common practise. Do I think, there should be some pressure from the authorities ? Absolutely.
Opening doors, does not constitute dumping our culture from the back door. Why do the visitors forget that we are “VISITORS” ?? Surely no one goes to Spain or Holland and asks them to change their laws to suit our needs ??? Why do the visitors forget that we are in a “rulership state” ~ why does shariah bother them so much ? Why do you feel democracy is the only answer ? When did Prophet Mohammed sallallahu alaiha wa salam and his believers accept democracy? Democracy is only a way of getting a bunch of people to set rules for the rest of us to follow. Who is to question them, once they are in power ? Did anyone question George Bush ? Why should rules that have been laid down from 1400 years back, become “primitive or backward or barbaric ” ?? Anyone knowing that the repercussions of rape would be death by hanging or gunfire, would think, atleast 10 times before commiting it.
It depresses me to see how westerners try to “influence” the culture here.
One of the main areas of concern to them is that, the laws are strict !!!!! If only they had been to “proper” Muslim states, they would then know just how liberal Dubai really, is.
We have noted a trend in friends who come here from Europe and Uk, initially they are super excieted and privileged with their jobs coz they benefit with their average education into cushy top notch positions. A sudden influx of luxuries follows, villas in elite properties, four wheel drives for the missus, a maid at hand, and ofcourse, nothing but the best bars and yachts for weekdays and weekends… Life is good indeed. Until, they realize that the color of skin has alot to do with their privileges rather than their qualifications. I have seen friends who suddenly turn all “thats Dubai for you” ~or ~ “Only in Dubai” ~ whether it be, the traffic on sheikh Zayed road or the road safety practises or treatment of maids etc, until, they get so accustomed to being pampered, that alittle inconvenience becomes a statement followed by “thats Dubai for you” ~ they tend to forget where they come from and accept that every place has downfalls. There is so much generalization and narrow mindedness on their part, that it is totally annoying just to read anything from them in “letter to editor” section of the newspaper especially in 7 days, which tends to add fuel to the whole attitude.
“We” make choices. Thats the choice we made to be a part of the system here. Then I fail to understand, why try to change that system ? Becoz it doesnt suit your convenience or ideals ??? In any case, you should be the one making the change coz you are the one who made the choice to stay here. Remember, there were no guns pointed at you to come here, no one really “forced” you. Its all about the choices “you” made. so while you have made the choice, it would be “ideal” for your own conscience and that of the others, that you learned to praise the candle instead of curing the dark. Learn to respect what you have, rather than constantly whining coz you have nothing else to do !!