14 March, 2006

The War

You know, there seems to be a lot of angry people in Dubai, and I was wondering what it is all about. For those privileged expats, in Jumierah, the Greens, Springs, Lakes, they are living in the lap of luxury. Far better, then their hometowns, I am sure, else, they wouldn't be here. Still, it seems that a lot of them, are they types who would pinch Santa and expect a bag of gifts.

Is it the seemingly over-indulged locals that makes Jane and Tarzan speak so much evil?

9 comments:

J. Edward Tremlett said...

Well, speaking as someone who lived a good lifestyle as a dubai expat for 7 years...

I think people forget where they are and who they're dealing with. It's really easy to get mad at congested roads, bad drivers and poor service, and forget that it's a part of so many different cultures all trying to intermingle with one another, and make it from payday to payday.

There were times when I was angry with people in general. There were times when I loved the whole world. And once I learned to love it, I never stopped loving Dubai.

J

sandsOfTime said...

I think the problem is that many expats develop an idealized image of their home countries while they are in Dubai; exaggerating the good and diminishing the bad. Reality tends to hit hard when they go back. As for locals, I have generally noticed that expats treat us locals like a passing natural event (Oh look there is a local, notice the white clothes, the flowing head gear, must belong so species Y) instead of people. True some of us flaunt wealth in a vulgar way, but the grand majority are trying to eke a living to feed our families and are no different than more middle classes. Inevitable when we only make up 15% of the population.

secretdubai said...

I think it's more the fact that many people have experienced a dramatic downturn in living standards since coming here, and/or the inability to save money, which is very often people's motive for working overseas (fair enough, given one can't permanently migrate here). Areas of disillusionment:

1. Soaring rents

2. Stagnant salaries in a plummeting US dollar-pegged dirham (when I came here it was 5 dirhams=1 sterling, now it's 7 dirhams=1 sterling)

3. Traffic that is now so bad it has negatively affected most people's work and social lives. For example: I go out at night socially only a couple of times a month, if that. I stay at home instead, fearing the traffic.

4. Property sales - homes bought have been delayed, built to shoddy standards, rates/service charges are escalating, and there is no compensation or even proper response from developers. The UAE made expats stakeholders in the economy here by allowing "freehold" sales, then effectively shat on them from a great height.

There are a lot of things here that people don't notice or put up with when the going is good. Such as expensive alcohol, censorship, a lack of green "countryside" (not blaming the UAE for this, but it's something people miss!), bureaucracy, and many other things both major and minor.

When the comfort buffer is eroded, these things start to prick and jar much more.

It's not to say that the UAE isn't still a great place to live, nor is it to say that people's home countries are any better/worse. And yes, memories of home may be unfairly rose-coloured.

But it is undeniable that the UAE is not quite as pleasant, or certainly lucrative, a place to live in as five or ten years ago.

Axonsax said...

Just want to add weight behind Secret Dubai's observations on this one.
Life is getting harder and harder out here in Dubai for the so called “privileged” Western expats, and yes the only reason that they are here is to provide a better life for themselves and loved ones. The very same reason that the labour workforce from the sub continent descend on Dubai.

With static salaries and the rising cost of living Dubai is in danger of loosing the “middle management” expertise and small business entrepreneur.

In ten years time Dubai is in danger of being left with just two classes of resident:

The VERY well off and the extremely poor.

John B. Chilton said...

Secret,

You seem to come from the Yogi Berra School (Yogi is a baseball manager who is something of an icon of man-on-the-street philosophy).

Yogi said, "nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."

I am more in the j. edward tremlett camp on this one: Learn to love Dubai. There's a whole lot to love.

Is the UAE about to lose its Western "middle"? I doubt it. More are coming, not fewer. Evidently there's enough to attract them in terms of wages, price and lifestyle.

Yes, that is putting the squeeze on those who came early and enjoyed higher wages, lower prices, and a sleepier pace. The irony is that the early comers are arguing - implicitely - for barriers to further immigration.

Maybe the revolving door of expats coming and going is spinning faster? If so, I don't see it from where I sit.

Of course you may wish to discount all I say since:
a) My housing is provided
b) My utilities are provided
c) I have a 5 minute walk to work along tree lined streets with little traffic and none of it going above 25 kph.
d) My compound contains a grocery, Starbucks, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, a bowling alley, etc. Oh, and some other food outlets that at least begin to approximate less western fare.
e) I leave campus maybe 8 times in a month. When I do it is take in one of the great opportunities the UAE offers for world class music, sporting competitions, or ex pat activities like hobby groups or black tie dinners.

I'm on top of the world. It's all a matter of perspective.

Keefieboy said...

John: now we're all jealous!

Tainted Female said...

It may very well also have to do with the social lifestyle people live here. (Those who aren’t studying anymore, that is)

Dubai is a transition place. Foreigners come, make money for a few years and then leave. Those of us who stick around usually end up pretty lonely. (I’ve been here 10 years, always had a HUGE social circle, but realized recently I can count my friends left on one hand). It’s not very often that you find westerners & locals socializing. So this could be another reason people seem so angry; maybe they’re just depressed?

And John… Enjoy it while it lasts. Say Mashallah!

BD said...

Things are changing with the freehold phenomenon. We're only at the start of it so it's hard to see. People will start to make their homes here and stay 10, 20 years. Dubai is in the midst of a great transformation so of course its uncomfortable, and there are teething problems.

But that's a reasonable price to pay for a community that will in a few years have dozens more highways and by-ways, trains and built up developments for everyone's taste. People are rather unrealistic wanting things to be all set-up and smooth without accepting that it takes some time to get there.

When was the last time the city or place you come from built 10 new highways, a train network, hundreds of towers and thousands of new homes in a span of five years?

It seems incredibly short-sighted when people complain about how terrible the traffic is, for example, when it's obvious that some of the congestion comes from the fact that new roads are being built to address that very problem.

azucenamaryam said...

Thanks everyone for your opinons!!!

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