Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A home that never was

I was looking for the presence of Arabic language blogs, Facebook groups from and about the UAE. I can't seem to find that many, and only a handful that are active. But I did find this group on Facebook. Although not shocking, I still found it disturbing. The very clear anti-expat sentiment among many UAE nationals makes me wonder - who's fault is that? And what, if anything, will come of this? On one hand, it's natural to feel this way when you're the minority in your own country. But on the other hand, why isn't there more interaction, communication and cultural exchange between the 2 sides? I hate to call them sides, but that's just what they are.

Expatriate communities clique together anywhere in the world, it's instinctive. But here it feels like more than just cliquing together. Growing up in Dubai, I didn't get much of a chance to socialise with UAE nationals. We went to different schools, we hung out in different places, we lived in different areas. Was it my fault I didn't look for them? My parents' fault for not actively giving us opportunities to mingle with each other? Their fault for separating themselves? Or the country's fault for the way it built things?

I'm really not sure which one it is, if any of the above. What I do know is the strength of the sentiment on that Facebook group, also echoed on a couple of Arabic radio talkshows here, is case for discomfort, potentially fear. Discomfort because I know that the hospitable nature of UAE nationals means they'll never tell me this to my face, but now I know how many of them truly feel. And fear because if this sentiment is spread more wideley than it seems, how much longer before we have to face the harsh question of: Do we belong?

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