Monday, 23 March 2009

The Dubai Post

I debated heatedly with myself before finally deciding to go ahead and write a post about Dubai. People who've never been here are putting in their 2 fils' worth. So having been born and raised here (and no, I'm not 17), I probably have more insight.

I mean, Sara, you grew up here too. We've both complained about the city being 'plastic', 'fake' and 'souless'. It's not until you grow up a bit that you actually recognize that you are witnessing the growth, the development and the creation of this city. Dubai will probably become one of the historic phenomena of the 21st century in history books in the future. No, no, I'm not exaggerating. Think about it. What civilisations or ancient cities do schools teach about today? Rome? Athens? Egypt? Why wouldn't people learn about Dubai? What it achieved, how it achieved, the stumbles, the mistakes, the fall, the rise, the culture mix, the influx of expats, the exodus of expats.

And now we come to this accusation of being 'souless' and 'uncultured' .I wonder if the people using these words even know what they mean. What, no theatre? Er, yes there is. I've met people who've been in Dubai for over three years and didn't even know the Madinat Theatre existed. And the labour laws, the inefficiencies, consumerism, the driving habits, the press, freedom of speech... and the list of complaints goes on. Errr...pretty much like with any major city in the world. Except maybe Lichtenstein (which is a country but still comparable, I find).

It is regrettable that one doesn't feel entirely secure , even though this is the only home I know. But I also understand that the UAE Government can't just go around offering citizenship to everyone who's been here more than 25 years. It simply makes no sense.

The Dubai I was born in, grew up in and went to school in, is very different from the city I now work in. And I've enjoyed being part of the change. And I look forward to being part of the next inflection point, which I think we're experiencing right now.

So if you've been laid off, sorry. If you're still here, open your eyes.


  1. Well said Mai, whatever anyone says about the UAE and or Dubai, for people who have lived here and raised kids in the last 10 years, there are very few places on this planet which are better than here.


  2. wow! didn't see this coming from you! Very well said indeed!

  3. Loved your post Mai, I really don’t think that it is fair that lots of people are trying to take a shot at the UAE lately. I have only been here for 2 years but I have seen and experienced several things that are admirable. This country might not be heaven but it is not hell either. It is simply a country like any other one in the world with good and bad things to experience, nice and bad people to meet and rules and laws that should be respected.

  4. Love it!!
    I’ve been in this country now for around 20 years, although I hear a lot of shit and complain from friends and people I know, and myself …but still I think the UAE is a good place to live in & yes as any place it has its positves & negatives.

  5. I've been living and working in Dubai for a little over two years now and I love every moment of being here!

    Love your post. Have a great day :)

  6. The issue of soulessness and a lack of culture is directly linked to the inability to obtain citizenship I believe.
    Dubai may have the Madinat and Abu Dhabi may have the Louvre etc but that doesnt equate to somewhere that is cultured. A cultured society develops from the ground up and not from the top down. You cannot simply import culture and expect a city to become cultured. Only when people feel that they have some ownership on the future of Dubai through citizenship will interesting naturally developing cultures and subcultures grow. Its from this that a city with soul will emerge.

  7. Dubai isn't very cultured, but then I'm not sure that was the intention. Dubai doesn't really have much soul or character in the new parts. But the old districts are brimming with it.

    Personally I would say Dubai does have very little soul, or very little culture...however that does not mean it does not have any merit.

    The problem with the current crop of critics comes from judging the city by Western standards of culture, freedom, ideals etc.

    It might be boring, soulless and lacking to an educated, middle class Englishman...but to a poor Pakistani, or a self-starting Arab escaping an oppressive regime...Dubai is a place where dreams can come true, where people can live in safety. An oasis of (relative) calm in a turbulent part of the world.

    Every place has its faults, and I'm usually one of Dubai's most vociferous critics.

  8. I must say, I work with many self-starting young Arab's escaping repressive regimes and yes, they are properly thankful to have the chance to live and work here - even if they do wish they could aspire to living and working in the safe, enlightened, culturally and financially superior environment that Adam comes from.

  9. Very nice blog post. I definitely love this website.
    Keep writing!

    my weblog; openbox s10 hd wifi