22 May, 2007

A Dearth of Politics in Booming Dubai

Courtesy of an anonymous commenter...
"Mohammed al-Roken, a leading human rights activist in Dubai, has been arrested twice, forced out of his job as a professor and barred from traveling abroad. (By Anthony Shadid -- The Washington Post)

"There is hardly anybody in the city who doesn't feel a bit of fear inside him, a fear of losing it all at a time when we have it all," he said. "Do you call it alienation? It's much beyond that. We live in the best of times and, in some ways, the worst of times."

For Roken, the challenge of alienation is an unusual one. He wants to embolden citizens -- a distinct minority -- to raise their voices against an authoritarian government he says caters to expatriates, the majority. The government provides Emiratis with generous housing loans, pays for schooling and ensures free health care. But Roken is more unsettled by the intangibles: entering a mall where virtually everyone is a foreigner, beaches populated by swimmers in dress he considers immodest, and wine-tasting parties at luxury hotels. Only a more democratic polity, albeit entrusted to a minority, can stanch what he sees as Dubai's more flagrant excesses."

Read more of the article here (to read the first page you must register with the site)


Anonymous said...

The British run this country, and they don't like anybody to interfere in their Johnny Walker business.

Long live "1986 Maradona"

Anonymous said...

Courtesy of the same anonymous commenter:


The readers are intelligent....

Anonymous said...


Emirati said...

What are these utterly retarted people who complain about the high number of expats in this country ?

Although the governments stance is childish, roken is a complete idiot as well.

Anonymous said...

I respect Al Roken, he is a respected man and a voice for every Emirati citizen who respect himself

Anonymous said...

Is it the first sign of some extreme right activists emergence?

Anonymous said...


Al Roken is an educated man, he's one of the very few locals that speaks the truth.

You never met the man, so how come an idiot calls other people an idiot ?

Anonymous said...

Instead of turning Dubai into Riyadh or Islamabad, why doesn't Roken just move to Riyadh or Islamabad?

Anonymous said...

^^ I guess its up to the Emiratis to decide how should Dubai turn into, not you.

The filth has been going on in this community for sometime now.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of expatriates teaching us how we should run our country. Its the United Arab Emirates and if u aren't an Emirati you have no business decide what should happen here.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Emirati:

Nobody is disputing that Emiratis run this country. It has turned out the way it has because of some very considered decisions by a few Emiratis.

There is booze, hookers and pork in the UAE because the Rulers have decreed that there shall be booze hookers and pork, not because of some expat order.

My point is that the local salafist faction that you are a member of can either try to turn this country into an Talibanic theocracy, a venture in which you will inevitably fail, or you can move to Saudi or Northern Pakistan, where they will actually get what you want with much, much less strife.

Why not take the path of least resistance for a change?

Anonymous said...

wow!some1 who actually tells it like it is! rare for an emirati!
by the way,emirati is a dork!

ArO said...

My full support and admiration for most Emiratis in this country, and especially Dubai. They managed to build a strong country and economy, an open minded society (there is still some work to be done there), all this without losing their identity. Come on, the only ones I know that did something similar (modernize and retain identity) are the Japanese. No wonder not everyone likes that.
Way to go guys. Keep it up.

PS: I am NOT saying the place is perfect, merely giving credit where it is due.
PS2: Al Roken a leading Human rights activist??? bullshit aimed to criticize the local government.

Blogger said...

Dividi et Impera

im still for this saying.

Although Roken seems to be a bit confused and even if i disagree with him, at least someone is trying to change something.

the problem is : which direction would this take?

As History has always showed us once there is a big opening to a new mentality and to a new custom, there is always a reaction against it headed by indigenouse people.

( example: France, US immigrants reacting to the government ) so if there won't be a balance between
New Influence and Tradition and Indigenouse Customs there might be a kind of racism that wont help anyone.

There might be hate due to classes:
-Very poor classes who work hard and cant improve their status
- Tourists and non muslims which dont bend to the Uae local customs and that create disorder (alcohol, bad women free of any inhibition)
-Locals very confused class

Blogger said...

althoughi have to say i noice that westerners who are new to the uae - in a quite scared attitude- seem to respect the uae customs more than any arab expat in the uae.
Thats my personal humble opinion, im open to any criticism if you provide any example that tells the opposite.

Anonymous said...

@Skeptic Al, again it is us who define the options that we want to adopt. It is not black/white situation and you cannot dictate two types of resolution as either accept an immoral sluty country or ask for a taliban type country.

We are only asking for the rule of the Emirati and not some greedy businessmen minority who prioritizes money over our identity.

Having said that liberal extremest who ask for immoral and indecency should go where it suit them, you should leave to perhaps Amsterdam?

@Blogger I generally agree that Arab Expatriate dont respect the culture but we cannot deny that the majority of western expatriates wouldn't hesitate going topless in beaches or kiss in public as a norm even though it offend the majority of us locals. You can see that on a daily bases.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, you cannot judge what u cannot understand Skeptic. So unless u start learning about the local culture I think u should spare us the moment and remain silent.

Anonymous said...

I probably know moreabout local culture than you, Mr Nameless. I have, over the past few years, made a big effort to tearn a lot about UAE and Bedu history, culture and beliefs.

I repeat, the only people calling any shots in this country are locals. Complaining about expats having any control over anything here is foolish and wrong. It's your countrymen that have made the choices and deciusions that have led to where this country is now.

If you want the whole country to be more like Sharjah, then you can forget about tourists visiting, which means that you kiss away any idea of wealth after the oil is gone.

rosh said...

"If you want the whole country to be more like Sharjah"

What's wrong with Sharjah? It is conservative, but no where close to KSA or Afghanistan. It's always been a nice place to grow up in terms of having a rather decent, crime free and innocent upbringing - and for family life.

Ofcourse we could do with better laws in most aspects. We can also do with better logic when it comes infrastructure (take some lessons from next door Dubai). However -

If you are a party animal or love to shop, enjoy the mall experience, the dating scene and fast life - head to Dubai.

If you want conservative local culture/lifestyle, peace, quite minus the crowd of Sharjah head to Abu Dhabi - if you like the crowded suburbia, stay back in Sharjah.

If you just want absolute serenity, road trips, camping - head to Khorfakkan or heavenly Fujairah.

If you want peace and moments with just your thoughts and meet simple down to earth souls, including Emaratis - head to Dibba.

.....but dear tourists please do keep your clothes on for the most part.

Anonymous said...

Emirati, at least he has the balls to stand up for his opinion, unlike you who hides behind a nickname throwing insults at everyone.

Anonymous said...

All of these discussions and time wasting....nothing will change whether secretdubai posts her BS stories/opinion or anyone else.

I wonder when she'll get caught for coming up with such names as Sheikh Mo.

Anonymous said...

@Skeptic, if u spent ur so called effort knowing about the culture then u should at least understand that what Al Roken have said is what the majority of the Emiratis want to. Until u realize that I dont think that ur in a position to lecture us about anything.

Anonymous said...

wow. the first real discussion on society, I have seen in the last 3 years.

I am a guest in this country and although I do not agree with everything I see here, I do believe that the UAE people should be able to choose what they want for their country. Now, you can argue that most probably democracy would not have allowed the "development" that has happened (especially in Dubai).

I still hear this so called "for families Sharjah is better". What is this based on? On the school children that are being watched by some perverts when they get out of the school bus? The shady "fursnished appartments" in some areas of the emirate, the ban for "bachelors" from "residential areas", the "traditional housing" with open sewerage, the spitting people (blue or white collar) walking through downtown Sharjah...I love Sharjah for all of that but please don't tell me it is family friendly because it is more conservative.

Keef said...

Anon: 'I wonder when she'll get caught for coming up with such names as Sheikh Mo.'

LOL: SD didn't invent that. This affectionate nickname has been applied to Sheikh Mohammed for as long as I've been here - almost 13 years.

Anonymous said...

Since all the developments in dubai started..the majority of us Emaratis have not benefited from it. Oil prices went up and our purchasing power is no where near where it was back then with the high inflation rates. You see all these range rover sports......well there is something called a bank loan and even raju from the grocery store can take out a bank loan to buy an audi. They say alot of job are available to us....please go to the career fair...its a joke....they pile up all our CVs and start a camp fire...or they tell you to apply online...which we all know it never worked for anybody.
Traffic is amazing....it is now normal to spend 3 hours a day in the car...but I must admit I dont like sharjah and I dont want to become anything like it

bklyn_in_dubai said...

"We are only asking for the rule of the Emirati and not some greedy businessmen minority who prioritizes money over our identity."

is it too redundant to say that EVERYTHING that happens here is as a result of planned decisions from the very top? the so-called greedy businessmen are here as a direct result of that. if preservation of local culture were an issue for the top guys, it would be preserved.

Anonymous said...

I read the article. Twice. I still don't understand what his problem is. What's the problem exactly that caused him to 'flee' the UAE? There's the human rights issue, which is all fine and dandy. But I still don't get what he's fighting for exactly.

It may as well be a serious issue, but the article is vague at best -- just about as good as any piece written by our professional journos here.

secretdubai said...

All of these discussions and time wasting....nothing will change whether secretdubai posts her BS stories/opinion or anyone else.

I didn't even post this, you thick twat.

And I certainly didn't come up with Sheikh Mo. It's been the (friendly) nickname for him for decades, even since he rose to prominence. I first heard it long before I ever came to the UAE, from some expat family friends who were telling us how they had moved from AD to Dubai, and how dynamic Dubai was because of "Sheikh Mo".

secretdubai said...

Further to the discussion: I come from a land that has had waves and waves of invasion and migration since humandkind first landed there.

And while I believe respect is due to the existing status quo to some extent, I do believe that people who move to a land and work and live and raise families there have a right to determine its future.

So just as an Emirati that lived for a certain number of years in the UK would have the right to citizenship (and their children would have this right from birth, if born there) and to receive equal healthcare, welfare and education, and to stand for parliament and even become prime minister, I believe that any expat who migrates to and settles permanently in the UAE should have this right.

Anonymous said...

^^ Yea but I bet that u'd disagree if muslims became a majority in the UK and decided to implement the Sharia

Anonymous said...

They bad mouth Arab countries and call them terrorists, and now they want citizenship too ?

Would you convert to islam to get citizenship ? That's the first thing most of the expats refuse to do.


Stop whinning and go check up on your visa expiry date before you get busted.

bklyn_in_dubai said...

anon 6:08

again, for the nth time, how many expat non-oil arabs who have been here their entire adult lives, whose children have grown up in dubai have citizenship? precious few. the granting of citizenship in the gulf has nothing to do with being arab or being muslim. it is about protecting privilege and is given on an ad hoc basis -- any pretensions any of the gulf state gov'ts give that there is a "procedure" is just that, a pretension. what's the word that comes to mind? oh yeah, wasta. which is fine i guess, so long as you're honest about it, as so many of the emirati bloggers at uaec are.

Anonymous said...

Hi all, I think that the discussion has taken wrong path As the anonymous commenter who initially posted the link to the article from the Washington post, I am a bi disappointed that the moderator has chosen only this particular paragraphs. The complete article has slightly different character.

Anonymous said...

First of all to the commentator who said Arab expats don’t respect the local culture: Would you back your statement with evidence? I, as an Arab expat, have a genuine respect for the local culture. Remember that knowing the language , the religion and the traditions enables me to understand the intricacies of the culture. Understanding yields respect.

As for Mr. Al Roken; it must be said that there are people who like to go dissent just for the fun of it, the article of Anthony Shadid doesn’t reveal much of the intellect of this guy. But in all cases he shouldn’t, in my humble opinion, bash his country on a western news paper, writers like Anthony Shadid, David Ignatios and Fouad Zachrias of the Washington post are deeply in love with such characters.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I should contact them too.

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