Sunday, August 27, 2006

For the Love of UAE

For the Love of UAE

Watching the UAE change as rapidly as it is, is disheartening for many of us who have been here a little longer than a few years. Though there are many positive aspects to these changes, the negative ones tend to engrave deeper emotions in our hearts and more profound thoughts in our minds.

It’s getting harder and harder for me to defend the UAE as whole-heartedly as I found myself able not so long ago. I don’t blame the influence of negative blogs or media for this as much as I do my personal experiences, lately.

The most common ‘bad’ that get highlighted regularly are traffic woes, inefficiency of so many different areas in this country, incompetence with things that should be first rules like customer service, racial discrimination and censorship. In the midst of all these ‘bad’ the ‘good’ that still exist from way back when, or that are transferring to ‘good’ from ‘bad’ go unheard of. I decided to outline some of those goods that I see (partially influenced by a suggestion I received via email the other day):

Good from the past that still exist:


  • In the UAE if you sit in any coffee shop and watch any table of people regardless of nationality or religion, you will still be sure to see more people arguing that they are the ones to pay the bill and not the company they’ve enjoyed their coffee with. For many of us here, paying the bill is a way of showing you’ve enjoyed your time with your friends, and this generosity still exists today as it did when I first came. There is a stark difference to the common ways back home of ‘going Dutch’ – or only paying for what you yourself have eaten and the way the UAE society pays bills, or arguing that it's not your turn to pay.

  • You will not often find people eating or drinking alone, either at their homes or in public restaurants. If there is company, more often than not it’s considered down right out rude to quench thirst or hunger while your companions aren’t offered (sometimes even forced) to enjoy the same. I have never been to a home in the UAE, that I can remember where I wasn’t offered a drink almost immediately upon sitting down, and again this is regardless of the nationality of the host(ess).

  • It’s often that personal tragedies, accidents or medical issues that can not be financially afforded by the victim are brought to the public’s attention through the media. Just as often, you’ll notice that the UAE public manages almost every time to provide the needed charity that specific person is in dire need of.

  • It’s very rare that I lend out my car and it’s not returned with more petrol in it (and often even professionally washed) than it had when I offered the keys in the first place.

  • Not once have I been asked to pay a quarter for a bummed cigarette, and not once have I asked someone to make the same exchange while bumming one of mine.

These are just some of the things that come to mind when I think about the over all generous nature of the UAE society. People aren’t forced to behave this way. And contrary to arguments I’m assuming will arise because of these comments, people here are not as well off financially as many foreigners would like to think, and many new expats here still believe. Simply read any local newspaper’s letters to the editor, or follow any UAE based blogs and you’ll see that thanks to the rapidly increasing cost of living, many of us are suffering financially.

Women’s Rights:
In many ways, the women in the UAE have more rights than they do in the west. I can hear the screams from many already for this one, but…

  • There are women-only salon’s and days at public parks and beaches. For many Muslim women and many non-Muslim women alike, these places and days become a blessing when we’d like to go out without wanting to deal with being hit on by strangers of the opposite sex. In addition, for modest or Muslim women who don’t like people seeing us in any state of undress, the women’s day at the beaches or clubs, allow us to still enjoy sunbathing, swimming and/or jogging while being comfortably dressed for the activity.

  • From my experience and what my lawyers have told me, it’s virtually impossible for a father to win custody of a young child during divorce, unless one of three or four major sins can be proven beyond doubt – all of which would prove the mother unsuitable to raise children under any circumstance(s). Since my ex husband tried just about everything during the nastiest time of my divorce proceedings, from accusing me of committing adultery to accusing me of theft in a bid to win custody and I still won, I’m confident that this is the truth. I’m sure beyond doubt about this. I am aware that UAE laws states the child will be given to the grandmother on the mother’s side if the mother remarries and the father insists, and to the father once the child reaches a certain age. But I’ve also been informed that at that certain age, the decision is left up to the child and not the law alone. At the end of the day, if the father and mother can work things out while being civil with one another, the law isn’t going to stop them.

  • Alimony and child-support aren’t an option when it comes to payment. From what I know, an ex refusing or failing to pay either, will end up in jail. Refusal to make such payments and not suffering any consequences is far too common back home.


  • Taxes. I can hear the woes about this one now too, but the fact is we’re not paying taxes on every item we purchase from a supermarket or store as we do with GST & PST in Canada. We’re not having our salaries deducted by the government with each pay-check as is done in so many other countries around the globe. No resident of the UAE has to do annual income taxes that I know of, according to UAE law. I personally don’t think the arguments that hidden payments or fees required for this government service or that one are the same as tax. If you own a company and need government documents, you need to pay for those services. Those of us, who don’t own a company here, don’t have to pay for your services. Tax to me is the Canadian law that states even though I’m not a resident there, I still need to pay annual taxes on everything I make here to support free education, road works, health care, etc. that people back home take advantage of while I use none of the same.

Anyway, these are just some of the things that come to mind just now. I was intending to write a bit about the ‘bad’ that have changed for ‘good’ and vice-versa but I think this entry is long enough now. Maybe I’ll get to that another day.


Blogger Al Nims Media said...

very interesting thoughts, a few holds good for the neighbouring Muscat as well.

4:10 PM, August 27, 2006  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

Kishor welcome...

And thanks. Yes, Muscat is a beautiful place (or was when I was there last) and I'm sure it's still got some of the wonderful positive aspects that the UAE has lost due to it's rapid changing...

7:30 PM, August 27, 2006  
Blogger adevents said...

yub tainted you r right about the good things and the most bad thing here is racial discrimination as u also mentioned, plus the UAE law is not clear and defined in some cases and I can add the fact that of no law of citizenship whatever even if u born here or lived for 50 yrs which I think is not fair

9:25 AM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

TF: It's nice what you've addressed in this post. Make me think.

Of course, there's good and bad every where. It serves as a balance.

Hopefully, one day at a time, things will improve in this country for the common people, like you and I and so many others out there.

Here's hoping & wishing for Better Days Ahead for one & all!


10:46 AM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Tainted Female said...


I agree with you about many of the negatives you've mentioned. But it's not impossible to get UAE citizenship; it's damn hard but not impossible. I think it was something like 30-years working and you can apply. But I remember someone mentioning a while back that this law had changed - I'm not really sure about it, now. I do know I've met a couple of people who have obtained UAE nationality and not through marriage. But they were far and few between, I think I've met 3 in the whole 10 years I've been here. Hopefully that will change soon enough, because I agree it's not really fair, is it?

Symphony, this place is changing so much and so rapidly, the question is really, will it change for the better or the worse? And according to who's standards?

12:12 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

'This place is changing so much and so rapidly, the question is really, will it change for the better or the worse? And according to who's standards?'

TF: I agree with this statement 100% but at the same we ought not to forget that we're a guest in this country. We're not here to impose any change, at least I know I'm not. As for 'better or worse & standards' are concerned, I reckon it's upto the citizens to determine that level and to whom they apply, be it themselves or whomsoever lives here.

8:37 PM, August 28, 2006  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

’As for 'better or worse & standards' are concerned, I reckon it's upto the citizens to determine that level and to whom they apply, be it themselves or whomsoever lives here.’

And I couldn’t agree with you more!

6:52 AM, August 29, 2006  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

That Charity I was on about

11:49 AM, August 30, 2006  

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