Today's Radio Interview: Comments
Today I along with Ali AlSloom (hey ali !) were interviewed on the Radio station 103.8 Dubai-Eye FM. Many thanks to the staff of Dubai Eye for having us there.
The interview was a product of the debate between local and expats on the October the 5th which was regarding two interesting points of view, local and expat. It was based on this study
The survey found that 60 percent of Emirati Nationals questioned felt a sense of isolation as their cultural identity became increasingly diluted by the influx of large numbers of expatriates, the UAE daily The National reported. This compared with 71 per cent of western expatriates who felt that the biggest threat to Emirati culture and identity was the country's "highly materialistic and consumerist society". Despite these concerns, however, 81 percent of the 628 respondents - Emirati and expatriate - said they "belonged in the UAE" with more than half saying that the country’s safety record was the main attraction, the survey conducted by the market-research company YouGov Siraj found.
High rents, traffic and inflation emerged as the three main gripes with life in the UAE. Traffic was considered the biggest problem in Sharjah, where 56 percent of those surveyed said it reduced the quality of their lives, it added.
Many interesting points of view were raised.
First, I'm going to talk about the notion of expatriates eroding the national identity and the ignorance behind this notion.
When Abu Dhabi first hit oil in the 1950s, it already had many expatriates living in it. These were mainly traders in Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain. Thus our nation or at the time Emirates had already experienced a large amount of foreigners living in it, and was very comfortable with this. Many Emiratis are of Indian, African, Iranian and other origins. We are in fact mainly a nation of Immigrants. The rest of us are origionally nomads, who roamed from the desert to the sea seasonally in order to trade, fish and graze flocks. These nomads were organized in tribes, which each swore allegiance to a ruler or Sheikh. Many of these nomads were wanderers from other countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Oman and who intermarried or joined other tribes.
So therefore we can say that a majority of Emiratis are in fact immigrants themselves. And the fact that there are little if any people who can be traced to be in the UAE from the Medieval or even Reinassance (in Europe of course) era.
So our national identity has been formed on the open spaces of the desert, the openess of the sea, the freedom of the mountains and the accepting values of Islam. If you went without invitation to a tribe in the 1950s, then you would have been treated with the famous Bedouin hospitality which the rats at so many hotels and tourism venues have completely exploited as their own.
The ideas about threats to national identity started to flow in with the discovery of oil, the influx of foreigners from other countries who preached the ideas of extremist nationalism, and the Racist Arab Nationalism movement spearheaded by the Buffoon 'Thuna2i' (or duo) of Abdel Nassir and Saddam Hussein 'respectively'.
The people lead by the Arab Nationalists descended to the Gulf in droves, infusing left wing ideas and preaching support for parties and organizations that would have liked to see nothing but the complete subjugation of the Gulf peoples in order to fill their coffers with the funds nessecary to build houses for their 8 children, 2 wives and 9 mistresses.
These people who descended on the Gulf had issues with many expatriates from other countries, as their Arab Nationalism had taught them. They therefore encouraged direct resistance and hatred of the non-Arab peoples, and that the Arab States were their friends and most reliable allies in the world. You should work for, even kill for your fellow Arabs in the name of Islam, but when your fellow muslims are starving in Africa, the money destined for them should allow Arafatass to buy a new Mercedes.
And so, the UAE, born pure, was infected by an influx of foreign ideas which had nothing to do with its values. As does the idea that we cannot accept someone who has been here for 25 years, who has done his work honestly, who has not cheated or stolen, we cannot accept him because he endangers our national identity.
What apparently doesnt threaten our local identity is the Local man who is going around Cyclone looking for prostitutes. What doesnt threaten our local identity, is the local guy who wants to go to the nightclub in a Kandoura. What doesnt threaten our local identity is the local parent who doesnt teach his children how to properly speak arabic, instead allowing them to get their lingual skills from TMZ and the FRIENDS TV show. What doesnt threaten our local identity is allowing other Arab countries to dominate our Arabic-Language media, to not encourage the learning of Emirati customs in school and to allow the spread of Extermist perversions of the Islamic faith.
No, what threatens us is the foreigner who comes here looking for work, who promises to leave when he is done and who does not break the rules.
It is our responsibility as Emiratis to maintain our national identity and to work on spreading our culture and customs. To go on the offensive, not be on the defensive and cry about us being swallowed by a big Shark. We have to be a Pirhana. We need to encourage the learning of Arabic in the EMIRATI dialect. We need to educate people on Emirati Customs, and for Allah's sakes, many foreigners have lived in the UAE and NEVER tried Emirati Food ! We need to set up cultural and civil organizations which will encourage the spread of Emirati culture and to reinforce the national identity by being proactive, not reactive.
I salute my co-guest on yesterdays show, Ali AlSloom, who actually took the intiative to set up something really great which is the Embrace Arabia group. Link here.
I encourage the government to give him full support in his buisness, and to allow others like him to thrive and to actually take its own intiative to help support and communicate the Emirati culture, this is the only way by which we will really be able to say that we are doing everything we can do to assist the Emirati National identity.