01 June, 2006

Booming Dubai alienating natives

Aljazeera.Net - Booming Dubai alienating natives

Suhail al-Awadhi, 37, a senior municipal official, says he "was living three years ago in Hamria, but it was invaded by Indians, Pakistanis and bachelors, so I moved out".

Al-Awadhi was referring to an area in Dubai's historic centre.

Like all Emiratis, those in Mizher received free plots of land from the government plus interest-free loans or grants ranging from 500,000 dirhams ($137,000) to one million dirhams to build homes, according to Awadhi.
. . .
In his new book My Vision, Sheikh Mohammed explains his aim to develop Dubai as a fusion of Middle Eastern and Western values and a melting pot of creeds and nationalities, comparing the city to Cordoba, the seat of the Islamic caliphate in Spain in the 10th century.

But areas like Mizher are proof the fusion is not there yet. Plus, some Emiratis do not share the vision.

Not our country

Ibtisam Suhail, a political science professor at the UAE University in Al-Ain says "many people oppose this hyper-development and wonder who are we building all these projects for".

"You feel this is not your country anymore. There is a great feeling of alienation among Emiratis," added Suhail, also a resident of Mizher.

Suhail, in her 40s, believes not much thought has been given to the social consequences of fast development or the fragile demographic position of Emiratis.
. . .
"Citizens have been sidelined in the decision-making process. People have not been asked whether they want this," she said.


BD said...

The rulers in the country have definately set things in motion, like a high-speed train. It is up to the individual whether local or expat to take advantage of the opportunities that come his or her way. The country, I would argue, has been on this path for the last 30 or 40 years. For those who want a quiet, traditional life, this option is still available to them, even if it requires getting up and resettling to a different part of the country.

Why not move to some of the quiet villages in Abu Dhabi, Fujairah or Ras Al Khaimah, especially if the government offers money to assist you? Better yet, why not become a player in the new economy and try to put your own imprint on it.

People do have options in this new economy. No one should complain about that.

marwan said...


Mohammed UK said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mohammed UK said...

I can't see any comparison between Cordoba C10th and Dubai C21st.

The biggest libraries, universities. Philosophers, thinkers. Science and the arts.

The biggest malls, trade and business. A new economy (as you say, bd) and Knowledge Village.

I do hope that what has been "set in motion" will achieve a modern civilisation comparable to the former...

MamaDuck said...

Mohammed UK: Civilisations have generally begun to evolve when either ruling classes, having established themselves by superior force; or city states, having established themselves through trade and commerce; have had the leisure, wealth and will to patronise the arts to confirm their pre-eminence, or fitness to rule.

It's taken a lot of prize money and investment to put Dubai on the sporting map; and the recent very expensive and widely reported party at Cannes demonstrates similar tactics on the arts front.

Sheikh Mohammed has established Nabati poetry competitions; and Sharjah has really set out to develop and promote Arab culture, arts and artists, and worked with embassies to bring in foreign singers and performers. In Dubai, The Children's Orchestra, the Concert Committee, the Camel Caravan et seq, the Jazz Festival, the Film Festival and the Shopping Festival (and probably other things that I haven't heard about!) have evolved through a variety of partnerships between government, patrons,sponsors, professional promoters and arts practitioners.

In the private sector, we have increasing numbers of galleries, cinemas, theatres and bookshops, and there are frequent newspaper features profiling artists exhibiting here. In addition, Streetwise Fringe and Madinat Jumeirah bring out plays, and various promoters and venues bring out singers, bands and comedians. Then there are the amateur organisations and the schools.

The Arts are undervalued in the modern world: if it don't make a profit,it don't get the exposure!

So the UAE Arts scene, having started almost from scratch, is actually developing strongly. Conservatism and increasing overheads threaten creative endeavour and encourage sure-fire commercial work, but it still contributes to a groundswell of grassroots art activity and appreciation.

If anywhere can do instant culture, Dubai is the place. Don't forget, Cordoba represented the pinnacle of Moorish achievement over centuries, transplanted to Iberia by an expat ruler!

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