Honoring the 38th UAE National Day

The UAE has been the media spotlight – both positive (Abu Dhabi F1) and negative (Dubai World hiatus) – heralding a new era of Dubai Bashing (see my thorough how-to here) as well as justified criticism and the typical market flux a la Pelham 123 (so who made $300m now?).

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But today is the 38th UAE National Day, and these special occasions, like Eid and Thanksgiving and Christmas, are here to remind us of the greater good that we keep tucked in the shadows. For it is easy to dwell on our miseries and use them as our crutch to move forward, but it takes a movie scene, an Oprah episode or a family-feud-free-family-gathering to remind us that we have it good.

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What has the UAE given me? A good beating! Yes, and I am thankful for it. Tough love is what everyone needs, and tough is what Dubai is about. Being exposed to so many cultures (and, seriously, there are just so many nationalities here) teaches you to be tolerant and respectful to people around you. It teaches you how to collaborate and communicate effectively in teams and with individuals. It gives you pleasure when expats greet you with “Eid Mubarak” and inform you – genuinely – that their perception of Arabs has significantly changed through their stay in Dubai. And it lowers the barrier of the “them vs us” concept, when we all hold hands together for a cause, raising awareness through marathons and walkathons around town.

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On the sombre days, Dubai teaches you patience. It teaches you to network, to use your wits, to appreciate the value of money (and damn this city is expensive!). It shows you who your true friends are and how much value do you have in people’s lives, and they in yours. With Dubai’s every-changing population, and the tough competition – both on personal and career levels – it becomes quickly apparent who you should place your trust in.

But most of all, what I am truly thankful for is to be part of this “movement”, to celebrate the rise of a nation, no matter how much it stumbles on the way. When I have visitors over and show them around town, not all of them are impressed. “We have tall building in NY, so?”. Indeed, NY is a class of it’s own. But you won’t appreciate Burj Dubai unless you have seen it being built over the years, floor by floor. It’s difficult to appreciate or imagine that the 25km stretch of land between Dusit Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road and Jebel Ali was a desert only 7 years ago. It won’t make sense to an outsider as you describe how Garhoud Bridge was only three lanes, and how the 7 lane roads were 2-3 lanes only a few years back. It’s sounds ludicrous as you describe how one thing was here a few months back and now it shifted in its entirety to another location.

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Yes, Dubai functions and looks like a living being. It evolves and changes – too rapidly sometimes – but you, too, grow with it, and grow to love it. I don’t know about you, but I feel a deep sense of pride when I show someone around town or talk about the city. There is a sense of awe as I drive around town at night or take a trip on the metro just for the heck of it, to see the city from a slightly higher altitude.

 

So yes, you can bash Dubai or the UAE as you like, come up with rhythmic news titles and call yourself an expert in laughing at Dubai’s constant stumbling about, mediocre media, censorship, and the cult that is known as Etisalat.

But what has your city done or achieved in 30 years? 10 years? Last year?

Dubai Bashing Guide 101

Dubai Bashing is quite the classical rage right now, the Gone with the Wind of modern media of sorts, no pun intended. If you’re an aspiring journalist or a PMS enthusiast, here’s a small to-do list to get you started on the Dubai Bashing ride.

First, you need to be desperate. Why? There can be many reasons for you being desperate. You can be jobless and seeking out money, so a Dubai Bashing article sold to the highest bidder could be your break. If you’re lower caliber journalist seeking to join The Guardian, for instance, or a veteran with nothing better to write about, then Dubai’s fake sandy dunes are a good entry point to explore (note to idiots: the sand in Dubai is not imported. Dust storms are not sponsored by the UAE government in collaboration with the Iraqi’s). There can be a gazillion reasons to why you would want to bash Dubai. From post-getting-fired anger to your wife running away with someone else from Dubai, the list is endless. It all comes down to one thing though: You have an altered sense of perception. In layman’s terms, you need to get laid.

Second, you need a sponsor. Or more. Sure, magazines and self respecting online papers will pay you a nominal fee for your flamboyant efforts. If you’ve actually been to the UAE, the biggest sponsorship you can get is from the UAE itself. How? Ask yourself, how many years have you been living in the UAE? For what reason did you come to the UAE? Isn’t it to work, and make money, because there were no better opportunities? In your own country? And let’s be a bit frank, some of us don’t like being here except for the money, but since it’s your choice, what’s the UAE’s shimmering skyscrapers got to do with your bitterness? In any case, you’ve been here for several years, or a year with really high pay, and you got enough governmental sponsorship to bash it.

Third, you need a story. A really good one. Something out of a Bourne flick or The Sopranos or Godfather or The Simpsons. Did you row a boat by yourself – with your loot – to another country? If not, then you can merely take a bus tour of Dubai for 2 hours and you have yourself an in depth cover story with Pulitzer written all over it. Heck, if you’re that desperate, visit a labour camp and write the humanitarian crisis of the century article. Or make up anything believable. Aggregate 3000 foreigeners and send them off on a one way ticket. Make sure they all park their cars in the airport parking to make a statement. Include maxed out credit cards as well in the glove compartment. Attention to believable detail counts.

Fourth, get a thesaurus, and read as many descriptions of scenery as you can for inspiration. Everyone talks about shimmering towers, glistening whatever, empty roads that collect dust (strange, I still get stuck in traffic, and from the dust storms, everything collects dust. Try not to eat it), and most importantly do focus on the word luxury. It’s Dubai’s favorite word, and with your thesaurus, you can add -est to practically anything. Make sure to add credibility to your story. Quote Regina Filangi, Homer Simpson, and BumbleBee Shoeforts (these are all real names of real people living in their cars in Dubai because they, well, have been living a lifestyle they can’t afford, supposedly). Here’s a sample writing to get you started:

Beneath the biggest, blackest, dustiest sky in the world, where once stood tall the tallest buildings in the world, with their glamour and shimmering sparkling oddly-clean windows, lies the darkest most secretest truth of all: Dubai is nothing but a mirage, a place designed to suck you dry, chew you and spit you out from the rear. Dubai should add fakest to it’s longest line of all words ending with est, for a crapfest it is, a most crapfestest of all, er, ests.

– Aspiring Journalist with a rejected job application in Dubai

Finally, find a newspaper as desperate as you are and send it off. Wait for your paycheck. GREAT! Now use that money to buy a ticket out of Dubai. Don’t forget to park your car in the airport and stick a well crafted, most apologetic letter. Then write a followup article once you get home. And remove all the nice and fun photos of the Dubai is a Blast! album from Facebook.

Note: I am not blind. There are things that don’t make sense here, some of which decreases the life expectancy of a turtle. But there isn’t anything here that couldn’t be said about any other major city in the world. Sure, the weather is inhospitable, but it isn’t generated by the goverment. Yes, it’s expensive, but so is Paris and New York and a billion other cities. And, just like any other city in the world, if you can’t afford living in it, leave. I, myself, may leave sometime soon if I remain jobless for long.

Dear Schools: ENOUGH Bullshit!

It makes me sad to see the wasted amount of potential leaders, scientists, braniacs and people with inhuman levels intelligence.

Like Qwaider mentioned, schools have mostly become a social status – how much your family can really afford. We have grown a mentality where when someone says “I graduated from Oxford” is perceived as a God and one who says “I graduated from Damascus University” would probably be annihalated on the spot.

Lots of institutions, I am sure, do not offer an education up to par with the price tag. Here in Dubai there was a haitus over a recent (and, as usual, unexplained) price hike in one of the schools. The government eventually had to jump in and regulate price hikes the schools can get depending on their perfomance as a school – which seems fair but the means of measure might probably be flawed.

There were many truly dumb idiots in my university, and I don’t mean only academically (not smart vs intelligent) but the only reason they were on campus is because their families could afford it and they happened to pass the TOEFL test, on the third time. “Non profit organizations” feed on people with big wallets who are willing to pay anything for social recognition.

If that seems appalling, take a look at this story. This girl was thrown out of class because her mother did not have enough money to pay the fees because she is unemployed (the semester is almost over). The humiliation! To be denied education when you had nothing to do with it. I am appalled beyond measure, among with the hundred of people writing Gulf News an email right now or have commented.

In my job I got to see many people arriving, as we called them, “a package”. You get to hire someone with all sorts of three and four letter acronym certificates, but give them a task and they’d do everything written on the “Do NOT do the following” list at the end of every chapter given in the book.

So, what’s up?

Some people buy their certificates (fraud), some people buy it in the sense of paying for the education and not learning. Others pay loads of money on false promises – regardless of potential. And then you get the group of people who cannot afford education but have so much potential if given the chance. The idea of “poor people are dumb” stems from the fact that they were never given the opportunity to be educated at any age.

There’s a huge debate on whether education should be free, and whether it becomes socialism if it is, or if the quality is rendered abysmal when the government pays for it.

This is not what I am talking about here.

I am talking about the opportunity to educate people, and to have a better responsibility of selecting candidates to enroll based on their potential and wit rather than wallets. There is a social responsibility towards the community and towards education. I understand the schools have operating costs and wages to everyone working there, but come on. Throwing a girl out of class for 500 dollars? “If we allow one we should allow all” – I understand, but throwing the girl out in the middle of her class, in front of everyone, isn’t the way to solve this issue.

I would really love to see a private university or college or school dedicate a class that’s free for all, general education. If every school in the country does that, imagine how many kids would learn something new every term. Granted, they might not end up as “intelligent” as those who are paying and are getting a full education, but in the long run the average level of knowledge in the population will go up.

Or am I too utopic?

Them Imbecile Seagulls!

Smart bastards mocked me!

They have been seeing me every day on the beach, pointing this “black thing” (ie camera) in their direction… so they assumed I am attracted to them in some way.

They also know I usually carry tuna sandwiches.

So yesterday, while on the beach (another post on this coming up) they congregated upon my arrival. Baffled by their proximity and willingness to please me, I took advantage to leave my car unattended and draw in close for photos.

Meanwhile, one of them sneaky bastards flew into my car and stole the bag! ZOMG!

Then they flew while I was trying like mad to take photos of them… and then I noticed a familiar bag high in the sky O___O

I went back to my car. IMBECILES!

The thing later dropped the bag close by.

I felt ISO-certified dumb, LOL!

Hamza is a Big Fat LIAR!

Have you read the blasphemy that is his post?

Lemme clear up the fact that he is an imbecillic LIAR! He is wa7ed animal X( 

ON HIM BEING THIN

First of all :P that guy is overweight. I don’t know why he thinks he is hot. The hottest thing he is remotely close to is a semi-decomposed deceased camel. Second, I am out of the house at work for 12 hours a day. How on EARTH am I going to feed him?

See, he is SO SPOILED in Saudi that he has a tea boy who brings him a glass of water! I told him, whenever you’re hungry, just open the fridge! Granted I didn’t have a lot of stuff there, but cheeses and bread are always there, as well as other “nawashef” in the cupboards like za3tar, pancakes, all sorts of grains and tuna. He could easily make himself sandwiches and there is rice and meat and chicken in the freezer should he wish to make himself something else!

And then he expects me to come after all these hideous working hours AND cook for him AND take him out AND play with him games AND listen to his ramblings on ridiculous matters!

That and he used to go out during the day to MALLS where I am SURE there are restaurants and food outlets aplenty. So really he is to blame for not eating!

ON THE VIDEOGAME ISSUE

Ugh! Don’t get me started. Let me just sum it up as follows. The game I chose to play is a cooperative multiplayer where we blow the crap out of mad zombies. The game he chose to play made him choose – at one point – to either shoot his mom in the head or watch her being torn into two pieces by a SAW-movie-like contraption (not to mention drilling into someone’s skull). And of course the nurses with jiggly breasts and impaling the main character’s father with a giant knife. Oh, aaaaaaaaaaand he found it quite amusing! Yes, that man was sleeping in MY house!

THE AC MILAN MISHAP

You all know how I feel towards soccer/footbal/crap. I had to sit and watch them baboons hop around the field, and of course it being a friendly they didn’t even play at 20% efficiency. They didn’t even pretend to play well – which all “pro” soccer players should be able to. It was simply for publicity and money. A yawn-inducing match.

Now Hamza is quite the selfish self centered dope, so I thought if I showed him how he should help other people in his community, he would feel good about himself. Granted, I failed miserably at helping the poor chap stuck in the sand, but like I attempted to help, others attempted to help me out, and got me out, and we collaborately helped the other dude (but also failed). It is this collaborative-community work that I wanted to show Hamza but he missed the point completely. Instead he swore he would never help anyone ever again. Which is why when we eventually played the multiplayer game, he refused to use his med kits on me when I needed them.

7aywan.

Oh and did I mention he almost killed Peter?

CONCLUSION

So given the circumstances I say I was a pretty good host. Which is why I treated myself to a haircut using the money he gave me to buy the AC Milan signed jersey NOT the Gaza money he donated as he claimed :P

Wa7ed ma3tooh mota5allef. Ana bafarjeek ya animal el marra el jayeh!

(PS: this post is not set as a warning to those of you who wish to visit me :P )