22 March, 2007

My hopeless vision

I hate commercialism but love culture and value.
I hate copying in haste (like before an exam) but love organically grown traditions.
I hate change (when it is quick and rash) but love planned progress.

With that out of the way I'd like to propose a new Dubai. Well really it will be an old Dubai but as a re-incarnation. An ode to Dubai. I realised that I missed my old Dubai of the 1970s and 1980s (to some extent the 1990s) when Dubai was a land of culture, traditions and values. People used to actually care, and would often use the language of Arabic when greeting you. We used to be a proud and happy city, part of a happy young country called the UAE. When we greeted our guests we would greet them in English only to be asked by them to use Arabic and teach them Arabic too. Our guests would want to see the desert, the dunes, the nature, and above all the sea.

Today's Dubai has become an inverted mirror-image. We seek everything new. We forget our roots. We embrace things we don't understand just because others are. We are extremely competitive, especially when it doesn't matter. We don't care. We would rather die than be caught outdoors instead of in-malls.

I want this new Dubai to be a place where the values of the old matter, and where although it's not immediately evident but progress is important only if it's planned. I want people to feel they are at home. Et cetera.

I can go on for ages, but if you don't get the point by now you never will or you're probably falling asleep/closing your browser.

Who wants to create (or re-create) this Dubai with me?


Hot Lemon& Honey said...

I relate to this post so much, I am constantly home sick in my own country. We have changed and "developed" so fast.
This was my first post on my blog:)
I would love to create/recreate the old Dubai. Count me in.

True Arab said...

Now what Arabic are you talking about that I can't learn off the side of a juice can? I really hope you mean the classical one. For your sake and mine.

As it is, most Arabs (Emiratis included) have helped Arabic lose its essence.

The Image Village said...

Dubai had out-done Hollywood on the Fake Scale. I can't stand it. I'll help. (Can expats help?)

A world of Symphony said...

You beat me to this one BuJ. I, as an expat was working on a post along similar lines.

I'm sure yours is an open invite, so I'm in!

rosh said...

Buj - this is a lovely post man - straight from the heart, and I hear you well mate. Couldn't agree more with your sentiments - count me in, shall add value in any small way I can.

Welcome back HLH - and yes, your first post on the UAE/Dubai is so soulful - I "borrowed" that post and sent it to all my friends in North America, so they at least have a chance to know the soulful ways of lives prior to all the glam sham : )

EyeOnDubai said...


I'm in too. I'm fortunate to have encountered some of your 'old' Dubai - it does still exist, and the values do endure. I think too many here are too quick to criticise, beliving that the only Dubai is the modern, commercialised version. Not so. There is real beauty, grace, wisdom, humility, vision, compassion and enterprise, if you will but look.

Still wish there were more opportunities for an expat to learn basic arabic though...

CG said...

I am in. How is this possible though?


Mubarak said...

Yet, you are writing in English!! I wonder if you have an arabic Blog?

If the answer is yes, I would love to visit it, give me the link to it.

If the answer is no... what a contradiction????

Fahad Al Mahmood said...

When I was living in the US (10 years) I was telling everybody that I'm looking forward to the day I return back home. I've told my family and friends that when I come back home, I don't want to travel anywhere for a really long time.

Now that I'm back, I see a country with no identity. I see a country created for tourists. I picture the UAE now as fake buildings and cities like what you see when you enter Disney Land or Universal Studios.

The UAE now is a great place to spend your vacation but NOT to live in. I realized this now and I'm sorry to say that I'm feeling homesick again but for the US!

In the US, I used to live near a mosque where many muslims from many parts of the world come to pray and socialize in. I used to have friends from different nationalities and the same goes for my wife. I saw there Muslims who are proud to be muslims and they communicate with others as muslims.

Unlike here in UAE, we are becoming like native indians in America. I'm really homesick ...

rosh said...

"Yet, you are writing in English!! "

There - right there lays your limitation in "limiting" the spread of a concept or culture.

As a start, perhaps using a more universal language (especially in a foreign dominated place such as the UAE) helps convey the initial introduction of an infant culture.

Point being, he got the message across - in order to get the ball rolling towards a common objective, which btw perhaps you share as well.

rosh said...

"In the US, I used to live near a mosque where many muslims from many parts of the world come to pray and socialize in. I used to have friends from different nationalities and the same goes for my wife. I saw there Muslims who are proud to be muslims and they communicate with others as muslims."

Fahad - perhaps therein lays the fact, why some folks have an issue with you at the community blog? You post something to the extent of "Open doors, open minds" – yet it seems clearly cannot see beyond Muslim souls? The post implies - you see different nationalities but not people from different religions?

Before you imply I am picking on you – so you know, my family is made up of Christians and Muslims –and we are people first - who happen to grow up in the UAE.

BuJ said...

Hi guys.. thanks for your supportive comments... such as:

HL&H: ahlan wa sahlan.. seeing as we're from the same generation and touched by al ghurba then i'm glad we share these thoughts. I didn't expect this to be so popular. I might have to devise an "entrance exam" lol.

true arab: Of course the classical one, but also the emirati one as it's the language of the land + it sounds so good!

the image village: Of course!

AWOS: Hello bud, of course tis an open invite.. why else would i post on the community blog? Of course all are welcome, but only those who want a taste of the old Dubai, and a bit of culture etc.

rosh: You're welcome dude. I knew you'd find this interesting.

Rosh but I don't get your 2nd comment about English. I think Dubai like any city cannot be entirely made of Arabs, or Emiratis.. and you cannot have just one language spoken. We need diversity, but all in a rational way not over-the-top sensless copying.

eyeondubai: Welcome. I know the old still exists, but it's eroding, fast. My fav is when I visit the houses of my emirati friends.. it's the best.. it's like time stands still there (ignoring the PS2, flat screen, and sattelite phone) :)
The culture is still the same, it's lovely!

CG Thanks. The hint lies in the title.

Mubarak 7ayyak.. my Arabic blog is here. It's a community blog (you're free to join) but I don't post too often, especially after blogger2 came up, and I cannot get in!

The reason I use English is because I'm better in writing it. However I am better in spoken Arabic as it's my first language, but 9 years in the UK takes its toll.

Fahad: Ahlan.. perhaps you will find my short post here interesting. It's about reverse culture shock, which I expect I will be getting very soon, and by the looks of it, so did you!

rosh said...

"I think Dubai like any city cannot be entirely made of Arabs, or Emiratis.. and you cannot have just one language spoken"

Sah sah - that's what am saying :)

May I inquire on the nature of contributions? Perhaps am slow - but the title isn't giving me a hint? Here's a thought - a blog or a dedicated webpage perhaps? made up of pictures of UAE from earlier decades, know how on the Emi culture, experiences and individual personal thoughts accumulated living here in the earlier decades, across the various Emirates?

....two cents worth random thoughts..

Dana said...

I still remember Dubai in the 90s..yeeee5 this post is going to make me cry!

count me in!


Ash said...

Boy, what I wouldn't give for that. Fascinating!

Ash reporting for duty, Buj! :)

Fahad Al Mahmood said...


I mentioned in my last comment that Muslims in the US are socializing with others as Muslims so they are not closed on each other like here in the UAE.

I encourage communication between different religions without compromising. Here in the UAE, we open the doors of western freedom neglecting the fact that we are still a Muslim country and we should respect our religion in order to gain respect of others.

That was my point ...

Anonymous said...

Finally someone who is is not bewitched by the illusion of the modern world. I wish you all the best May God give you success. - Trapped Expat

Hatem said...

Buj, let me also join, I don’t want to repeat the nice words of the above friends for not being boring, but I just want to say: most (if not all) countries are having yesterday better than today, but still, we shouldn’t lose the enthusiasm or the hope to improve tomorrow of our home lands. I still see many things in this life as 'sine waves'. Cheer up! :)

Stained said...

me in....born & brought up here...I call this my home even though my passport says a different story.....

pEtals said...


petals said...

By the way change ur title from HOPELESS VISION to OUR HOPEFULL VISION...spread the positivity and lets get started... :-)

BuJ said...

Wow guys.. I'm truly overwhelmed by your positivity!

I wrote this when I was feeling especially down after hearing about the beach closing.. then reading about tribalism from that recent GN article from a high-ranking official.

I didn't have much in mind when I wrote this more than nostalgia and scepticism knowing that not all that glitters is gold. Especially in the City of Gold.

Interesting comments from Dana! Probably the youngest blogger I've come across. If you feel aliented given your young age, imagine how much has changed? Imagine how older people feel. Someone has mentioned (I think it was HL&H) in her post about different people having different ideas of the "Old Dubai" and an example of that was given between her dad's thoughts and hers.

Hatem you amuse me! It's one of the very rare times when I've seen it written as "sine waves". Most people write it incorrectly as a "sin" and making it appear all haram and wrong!

All the others, thanks, sincerely, for your kind words... Petals, Stained, and Dr Ash :)

Ibn Battuta said...

I wish I had a memory and a taste of the old/real Dubai! I have no doubt there are very rich cultural traditions to be uncovered and more importantly, real human beings! I've been stifled by the facade and the insipidness of the "new" Dubai! In my own blog I wrote recently on cultural amnesia in the UAE....

It's touching to see the power of nostalgia and so many wanting to "return", yet we are the ones careening down SZR at 180+ zipping through traffic from our glitzy Marina view apartments or stiffenly boorish faux suburban homes in the Springs and Meadows or our garishly lavish marbled villas to Burjuman, City Center, or any of the 100s of other malls to wither away our lives....

Harsha said...

Very interesting and touching post, I'd love to be a part of whatever it takes to achieve this vision.

My question is.. is there anything besides blogging that we can do to achieve it?

marwan said...

I remember a Sharjah where a Emirati would come to the park and buy ice cream for all the single men sitting alone.

I remember an Abu Dhabi where expatriates did not constantly squabble over money and power, but lived for weekends and holidays when their kids could play together and the only controversial topic was the match score.

I remember a Dubai where no one talked about the roads. Ever.

I remember a UAE where everyone treated each other with respect and love for this great country we were building. I remember a place where no one had time for the past, because the future was so bright.

No matter what befalls this country or myself, I will always remember that place - and that time.

tobasco said...

I was brought up in Abu Dhabi and loved my trips to Dubai. The old dubai still exists though but its harder to see.

When I last visited(2006), I was in shock as the last time before that was around 1999. I just can't describe the changes and shock but I guess everyone here knows by what I mean

Stained said...

I walk around dubai trying to see the old dubai....behind all those big building you can still find it...
I have, alot of times.... :D

Anonymous said...

Lovely post, at last someone trying to be positive. That's gotta be a good thing. But you will NEVER get the old Dubai back, its in the past, gone, finished and wishing it were back is a waste of time and energy. Lets instead put the energy into what is good about the NOW Dubai. Its a simple fact that what you focus on is what grows, if people spent less time whining about what is wrong with Dubai and its various residents, and more time celebrating what is right, then the good stuff will grow. Try it for a week, for example instead of complaining about the dangerous drivers, be grateful to the safe ones. There is good and bad everywhere, you can choose to look at the bad and be miserable, or you can choose to focus on the good and be happy. Its a choice, simple. Do you want the good to grow or the bad?

Anonymous said...

Our voice is measured by our wallets. Our wallets is the influence we have over here. So unless you all have very fat wallets then I suggest you go to bed and sleep it off

Waseem said...

I totally agree and I have got so bored of the usual Dubai stuff I actually stopped blogging. But I wrote what I felt after reading this on my Blog.


It is very cold and made up in Dubai

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