Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Insolence of Prosperity

Happy National Day!!!

Almost 39 years ago, our forefathers (I don't mean only genetically) drew out the first sketches of the union of states that is now the United Arab Emirates. Things pretty much went up for us from then. I know because I am a child of such a union as I was born a few years after the union. The federation was a win-win for all the states involved and was the only logical thing for us to do after the British left the region (for now, they have since returned, but this is not the post for that). I might be biased, but out of all the Gulf states, both Arab and Persian, I believe the UAE enjoyed the most benefits from this. The fact that we're starting to be noticed regionally and to an extent internationally is a proud testament of that.

I grew up in an Emirates of needs and wants. We needed so much and let's be honest, we didn't have much. They named one of the main squares in Sharjah the Kuwait Square as a thank you to the people and government of Kuwait for their help to build the UAE Educational system. When they launched Emirates, the first flight was actually to Pakistan back in 1985. Now when we think of Pakistan we think of something stupid and racist or we think of cricket or political instability. Many people still refer to construction works as "Indians". How rude! And if you ask an Emarati grandfather, he will surely refer to the local currency in the UAE as the rupee, even though the UAE Dirham has been in circulation for many many decades. What better testament to how much we owe to our brothers from the Indian subcontinent.

In fact, prosperous families used to send their children to India or Kuwait to be able to finish high school because not so long ago, most schools in the UAE were only available until a primary level or only taught the Koran. In a few decades I was lucky to be born in the UAE, to be educated in its schools, and that was to such a level that I found it easy to continue my studies at Harvard and Oxford. Bravo to the UAE.

Cars were a luxury. In fact they were an oddity. Healthcare was patchy to say the least. Airconditioning was no where to be found. The main airport was in Sharjah (see here King Abdul Aziz Street used to be the runway on the old Sharjah Airport ). Dubai's runway was still new, and was very much a dusty place.
Et cetera, et cetera...

I know this blog has become an old and dusty place too, but I have meant to write this post for some time. Not so much to remember the past, but to voice my condolences perhaps to our present, and to pray to our future, and the future of this country after we leave it for our children.

What have we become now? A nation of fat, slow people. A Nation of smokers. Diabetes and heart disease are so common even though we have amazing and cheap healthcare. We would fight over a parking slot nearest to the mall door when our fathers wouldn't have known what a mall is. We pay millions for a small number plate, even more for a phone number.

So here is what happens in today's UAE. I bet you Sheikh Zayed would not be happy, I know for a fact that Sheikh Rashed would NOT BE HAPPY at all. This is not the UAE he left. I remember the day Sheikh Rashed died like it was yesterday. I felt a deep sense of loss and that was shared by everyone, from the oldest Emarati to the Indian dude that has heard of the UAE and is spending his first few days here, and even the odd palm tree felt sad. Sheikh Rashed, may Allah bless his soul, was the true architect of the union, and many of you young guys do not realise this.

Driving down the roads is not only dangerous, but it makes you liable to being abused and cut against. I had to drive my family to Sharjah yesterday and I was checking my mirror briefly towards the left only to find that the small gap I left between me and the car in front was now occupied by a dumb fuck who took the modest safe distance as an invitation to cut me. I braked suddenly to avoid a collision and the idiot son of an idiot soon changed lanes. This doesn't happen back 20 yrs ago or so... people used to be polite when driving. Here, we've become a nation of speed freaks. You don't buy your car depending on your budget or the utility, but you look at two things.. you look for cars that people will respect and fear you in, and you also look for cars that can be the most agressive (e.g. loud exhaust or blinding high beam). I bet if you stop the random idiot on today's roads they will tell you that the high beams are purely for flashing and overtaking rather than driving at night on unlit streets.

Oh my lord...

What about the workplace? Ok, so we have more women at work, but they are learning the bad habits of men. Answering phones or e-mails here is rare, so you have to actually visit all the places you have business with personally in order to get the service you need.

Speaking about service, why is it normal for someone to cut in front of you when you're trying to ask a salesman something? Why will the new person always get priority? Why do people give priority in situations when they are meeting face to face and then the fone rings and they can't wait to answer it quickly. Of course if they were alone they would just let it ring.

I can go on, but you get the idea.

Is this the UAE that our fathers dreamt of? I bet it isn't the UAE that most expats come to dream of. I know almost all visitors come here thinking they will learn or at least hear some Arabic, but the only Arabic you'll hear is swear words on the street. Let me stay away from our language problems, coz that needs a whole other post!

Past prime concerns were getting enough food and medicine, or even education. Current concerns are getting enough fatty foods and smoke and a good movie to watch when we want. Even exercise has been abused. Gyms now offer free access to a DVD library if you sign up. (pointless?!?!). Most guys go there to check out girls, rather than to work out. What's going on...

We have to properly reassess our future in order to survive and in order to become a quality city and country. We cannot allow ourselves to be led by the whims and fashions of the dumb, rich, and weak. Above all...we must not tolerate the insolence of prosperity.


Susan said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again! Buj for President!!!

Al-ain Rose said...

this post just transfers what on my mind into words, buj.

so true, People are so losing their manners these days. it's a sad fact.

Dave said...

Sad but true. I would like to think that the next generation of young Emirati's would show the same respect and attitudes of their forefathers but there is little evidence to suggest they will. Unfortunately I fear that the future of the Emirates is not as bright and rosy as everyone believes it is...... it takes more than money to create a world class city.......

Paraglider said...

Greetings BuJ - Qatar is no different, I'm afraid. No doubt city centre modernisation must happen, but very little respect is afforded to the small businessmen who have been the life of the city for twenty years. With money comes arrogance, all too often. Very sad.

Ema said...

Hello, Happy National day although its bit late now, but mainly i was dropping by to say Hi Hello its been a long time.

Cynical Hippie said...

Awesome post Buj.

I really enjoyed it.

BuJ said...

Hi guys.. thanks for passing by and sorry for z delays!

SUSAN>> Thanks for the endorsement! Would I fit better with the GOP or the so called "democrats"?

AL AIN ROSE>>> Good to see you!!! How ru doing?!!?!!?! I don't like writing this crap but really life over here is very limited by the arrogance and stupidity of the people and systems. Where are the days that we used to be the most welcoming and mo7taraming people?

DAVE>> Couldn't say it better.. "takes more than money to create a world class city"... actually was in a mall last night and was absolutely scared by the young emarati girls.. they are not more than 45kg in weight, and very short too.. wearing full black and very dark makeup (loads of it) .. wearing handbags that are more than an indian driver's annual salary and the scariest thing is:
1- they have this very arrogant look
2- they don't know how expensive what they are wearing is, and they will probably never have to work for that.

PARAGLIDER>>> Welcome welcome! How do you feel about 2022?!?! i bet ur frigging proud! hope it doesn't make them and us broke in the end!
I used to work with the guys that made the Heart of Doha happen.. then the crisis happened!

EMA>> Happy national day :)
it's never too late!

CYNICAL HIPPIE>> Welcome!! Can't say i remember you, but welcome :)
love the name!

rosh said...

I agree with just about everything that's written here. I'd just like to add, often, it's a two way street. No matter where you come from, people need to be considerate, understanding and patient with each other. IMHO, this town needs a mental make over. It would help have open dialogue between all communities that make up this place. I wish people would stop milking the cow, and think / feel a little beyond. I wish the powers that be, extent people that atmosphere / freedom to do so. It helps everybody, because, despite the shortcomings, there are a lot of positives here, some, of which, just need to polished up.

And hell yeah, BuJ for president!