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FNC Expects Support on Culture Test

Adel Arafah? (KT Exclusive)
Filed on July 12, 2009

DUBAI - Speaker of the UAE Federal National Council said he expects a proposal, to raise awareness of local culture among expatriates, would receive strong support from the government and understanding by residents.

Abdul Aziz Abdullah Al Ghurair, in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, said expatriates must understand the way of life in the UAE if they want to become a part of it.

The Council’s First Deputy Speaker Ahmed Shabeeb Al Dhahiri told Khaleej Times last week that the Council had moved a proposal to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development that includes a cultural awareness test as part of mandatory procedures to get a residency visa.

“The expatriates (residency visa seekers) need to understand the lifestyle in the UAE to become a part of the community,” Al Ghurair said.

The committee, comprising representatives of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior, when it is established in October will design the test.

“I expect there will be a good response and the ministries need to take the first steps required in order to give the residence visa seekers the opportunity to know the UAE culture, customs and traditions,” Al Ghurair said.

The committee also plans to develop a guide to the traditions and values of the country.

Al Ghurair said many expatriates had lived in the UAE for years but were largely unaware of aspects of UAE culture.

Emiratis that Khaleej Times spoke to on Saturday said the expatriate community’s general lack of knowledge about the country’s way of life was whittling away at their national identity.

Al Ghurair said the issue of national identity was a common point of concern that was often raised at sittings of the Federal National Council.

However, occasions have arisen when ministers, who regularly take questions from the Council, have turned down requests to discuss national identity.

Al Ghurair said the constitution did provide some allowance for ministers to refuse to answer questions. He said the ministers had given reasons for not answering questions and both the Council and the ministers worked towards what was in the national interest.

Email: adel@khaleejtimes.com

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