The Emiratis’ world

The majority should be willing to socialise with the locals

By Mohamed Al Marzooqi (At Home)

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Published: Mon 21 Apr 2014, 8:34 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:35 PM

One of my foreign friends told me that he finds it difficult to communicate with the local community and understand it. He feels that we, as Emiratis, keep to ourselves and are difficult to communicate with. We are for him like a closed box; I heard this sentence more than once and from different nationalities; and the local community is always blamed for it because it is the one, in their point of view, that needs to open and socialise with others. But is this really the truth? Is it only the responsibility of the local community or is it a shared responsibility between the two parties, the newcomers and the local; especially that the Emirati matter in this subject is more complicated than the rest of the societies!

The fact upon which we don’t disagree is that the Emiratis constitute today only 10 per cent of the state’s total population; they are becoming a minority in regards to the rest of the other communities in the UAE. Therefore, it is very normal in this case for this minority to come together and keep to itself against this strange situation for many reasons, the most important are language, religion and traditions. This minority is starting to feel threatened for the disappearance of its identity and culture especially in the era of globalisation, which is preparing progressively to dissolve forcibly the differences between the entire world’s populations in the future, in order for them to live a similar life regardless of their area of residence. It is our right today as Emiratis to clarify to the newcomers especially the non-Arab what we really want from them and what we wish from them in order to close this gap between them and the minority of citizens. The openness must come from them first because of the situation currently reversed in the country. You would never expect from the minority to open to others and mingle with them because it will melt in this huge sea of strangers. Therefore, it is our right to ask them what have you done to close this gap and are you serious in getting to know the local community, or is it just an excuse you used for so long and without a good reason?

At first, we want you to read a little about our community, our customs and traditions; and the most important of all is to accept them as they are without criticising or nagging because this is the required tax from you in order to stay in any new homeland. Do not try to impose any change on our customs and traditions because our community evolves spontaneously through stages that are commensurate with the course and the evolution of life in it. We do not want to jump over some of these stages only because you think it is the right way, we know that he who will try to impose a sudden change in a fast but unstudied way in any society will cause a lot of chaos, which will require a lot of time and effort to fix it later.

At work, we do not want you to see the citizen as a threat to your existence and your job because the state’s economy is so big that it can absorb all of us. When we opened the doors to you, we were hoping that you would transfer your experiences to us and that we would learn from you the best and modern ways applied in your mother country. But keeping to yourselves in isolated communities and pushing away the citizen would only create a big question regarding the extent of the value you bring to the state and its citizens; that is if your expertise would still be monopolised by only you!

The Emirati community is like any other community, it has some negative aspects so there is no need to amplify them and talk about them in an exaggerated way in social media and external media; and take advantage of every incident to distort the reputation of the state and its citizens. The reality says that considering the age of our little country, what has been accomplished on its land thanks to everyone, citizens and newcomers, is a pride for the entire world. We are not proud of our country because of what has been accomplished recently; a big part of our pride goes back to the era of our ancestors and their struggle with the hard life in this area long before the advent of oil.

Because of our existence as a minority, it has become essential for us to demand from the newcomers who constitute the majority to take the initiative to be more open, welcoming and willing to socialise with the locals.

In some of the First World countries, laws were imposed to protect the existence of minorities and guarantee their full rights. We didn’t go in this extreme direction because we wish that this would happen as a natural reaction from your part and as a gesture of gratitude towards a country that welcomed you with its citizens through the past 40 years with all amiability and respect. Would this be accomplished? I leave the answer to you.

Mohamed Al Marzooqi is an Emirati writer

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