16 April, 2011

The Source

When I first came to Dubai for a little look-see with my husband, a weekend break to decide if we could ever live here, we were taken around by a French Relocation Expert. This was in 2007, when Dubai was heaving in every imaginable direction - up, out, down, in. The hopes and dreams were even higher than the skyscrapers they were designing, and every man and his dog wanted their piece of the Dubai pie. The population was greater than it is now, and everyone was living in half the number of dwellings. Laborers were working 14 hours a day in 47ºC heat, then being shipped home to the labour camps in cattle trucks. House maids were being paid 500AED a month to work 16 hours, 7 days a week. Beautiful women were flying in from all over the globe to try and land themselves a Sheikh, prostituting themselves, knowing that just a small hand-out could set them up for life. Corruption was rife - the options to recieve an invitation to buy land were being sold for millions, because Cityscape product was sold out in a matter of minutes. Everyone was flipping and tripping, morals slipping, taking their turn on the harem-scarem magic carpet ride.

Nadira had told us we must "swallow our snake" to live in Dubai. I think it must be a French saying that does not translate well, but I will always remember it. She said that this was a land of golden opportunity for the ones who were already blessed with opportunity, but it was a den of iniquity for those who were not. We would love it here, but only if we walked around with our eyes closed. (She was shortly thereafter sacked, probably to blissfully return to the land of the banned burqa and 7-hour work days)

She was right. People like me would die in this environment if we did not have the luxuries we receive to prop us up. We are simply not meant to live in the desert. And so, if we decide to stay here, we must wear the guilt. First, we must accept that our environmental impact is unforgivable, but unavoidable. Halas - it is done. Second, we merge our values with the local ones - we take a maid, we stop double-taking when we see workers in the sun in mid-summer from our air-conditioned SUVs. Things will improve Insha'Allah, and it becomes something that has nothing to do with us.

I've already touched on this in my 'Despicable Me' post. Don't think for a moment that because I am a Jumeira Jane, I am walking around oblivious to the greater problems of this world, just because I blog about free range eggs and organic farmers markets. It's far from the truth. I think about my greater transgressions daily, but the more I think, the more helpless I feel, the worse I feel for doing nothing. Then my own life interrupts me. I have to pick up the kids, do the shopping, help with homework, give a swimming lesson, cook the dinner, put the kids to bed, call my mum. By the time I think about the world again, it is time for a glass of wine, and that helps me forget all about it. Snake swallowed.

A place where I can make decisions on my impact, whether it be global or local, is what food I provide my family with. And so when I was given the opportunity to visit the Abu Dhabi Organic Farm (the retail outlet is named Al Mazaraa), I excitedly packed Lion into the car for the journey. I had read this article recently, as well as having a comment from an anti-local reader on my Farmers Market post, and I wanted to see what the deal was, ask the questions, do the math, and make my own decisions. Not only that, I wanted my son to see the impact and method of farming in the desert.

read more on The Hedonista here...


Anonymous said...

why are you posting your personal stories on here, are we supposed to be interested?

nzm said...

Anon: there is no guarantee that you will like every post here - don't like it, move on.

The article pertains to relevant info on organic gardening in the U.A.E. and, as such, is a valid article to post on this blog, as per the rules of posting.

Sarah: you need to provide a link to the rest of the post. I think that you meant to do that at the bottom of the article, but it isn't there. ;.)

Sarah Walton - The Hedonista said...

Thanks NZM, I've fixed it now. I'm sorry anon - I thought this was a 'blog', not a newspaper, and so, all the posts I write are from personal experience in the UAE. Many people are interested in food miles and the environment - this is one of my more popular posts on my personal blog, and 80% of my audience is from the UAE.

Lirun said...


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