Thursday, April 9, 2009

Open Mind

I realized that my last blog did not explain much about the culture here in the UAE so this blog is intended to do just that. As many of you know, the UAE is a rich country. It has made its wealth through oil. With that has come a segment of the population that is very privileged. And like many countries there is a large gap between the rich and the poor. There is really no middle class to speak of.Many of the rich do not need to work so they hire others to do it for them. The UAE has become the temporary home to many foreign national workers from all over the world, particularly the poorer nations. These people work for pennies on the dollar. Now, for some people this is the land of opportunity; while for others, it is the land of discrimination, segregation, and racism. It is not uncommon for a rich Emirati to go off on a foreign national because they attempted to put the "cheap" gas in their Bentley (a scene I witnessed just the other day) or for a foreign national to be stopped by an Emirati in a fit of road rage (another scene I have witnessed).Although these scenarios are frustrating, there are many things I appreciate about the UAE and it's people. For example, they are very prudent about demonstrating any type of physical violence in public or through the media. This country also has a very low incidence of crime. There are few problems with firearms or theft. I can go walking at 10:00 pm and feel safe. I can also leave my car running in front of a store without fear that it will be stolen or broken into. Women here are also allowed more freedoms than those in most other Arab nations. They are able to hold positions of power, work, drive, and decide their own choice of dress. These are all freedoms we take for granted. The other day I was informed that my husband will have to write a letter of permission in order for me to get my driver's license here. This was and still is irritating to me.Additionally, women wear the traditional dress and face coverings only if they choose to. Emirati's are also very family oriented. They pride themselves on participating in recreational activities. The city contains many well-kept parks and beach facilities and encourages people to use them.Many of us can also learn a lesson from the dedication they possess in practicing their religion. They pray 5 times each day. Each time the call to prayer is broadcast throughout the city as a reminder. Although I continue to be surprised by the daily events I witness here, I am maintaining an open mind. It is easy for any of us to judge something if it is different from what we are accustomed to. I am thankful that our daughter will spend the first few years of her life in a safe environment, however I know there will be many things I will have to explain to her. Despite the fact that she is a woman, she is still entitled to the same privileges men are. Although she is not a rich Emirati, she does not deserve to be looked down upon or talked down to.
I can only imagine what could be accomplished here with an anti-biased curriculum. Children should be taught from a young age that there is value in everyone. So, teacher any of you want to come start an anti-biased education movement in the UAE????


  1. You are so awesome Alysha! The world needs more people as open-minded and culture-sensitive as you! Miss you all!

  2. I truly enjoy reading about your views on the culture. I think even more than that, I love that it's all gramatically correct! You're a great writer Alysha!!

  3. ps - I vote Caylan to follow you over and teach there, haha!