Mentioning race is not off limits here.


This is a remarkably “can do” kind of place. In forty years Dubai has managed to house an international populace embracing over 200 nationalities, the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest golf course, and me. Yes, I’m Dubai’s latest attraction, having just spent the last year in Thailand.

In Thailand,  I was amazed to see want ads that read “Attractive, slim 25-year-old female sought for office manager position.” Routinely, university teaching positions were only open to people under the age of fifty-five. But Dubai has taken racism, sexism and ageism to new heights. Here you can’t even rent an apartment if you’re the wrong race, gender or religion.

Emirati’s, the Arabs who are actually from Dubai, run the place. Filipinos, Pakistanis and Indians do most of the service work for them. There is a tight-knit fraternity of Indian multi-millionaires who are important to the UAE economy, but the real power in this country is held by Emirati’s.

Recently, the government admitted that twenty percent of the young Emirati’s applying for marriage licenses were planning to marry their first cousins! As Sly and the Family Stone sang, “It’s a family affair.”
News articles omit actually naming the individuals concerned, but instead report their ethnicity.  Last week I read “Two Tunisian men were sentenced to three years in prison each for taunting an Emirati policeman who was taking a shower on the beach. They accused him of being gay and cursed God.”

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Religion in Your Face (or Ears)


 

 

It’s five in the morning and I hear the call for prayer outside my window. I’ve gotten used to it, sort of, the way I got used to the Buddhist monks chanting over loudspeakers from the nearby temple in Thailand or Burma.  In Mexico I had to get used to church bells. It still amazes me that people in most parts of the world don’t think anyone has an aural right to privacy. And in most places, there is a state religion. It wouldn’t occur to them that it shouldn’t be so. Only in America do we assume that religion should be a matter of choice. We do, however, not tax religions, which, in effect, is a direct subsidy. I’m content to keep my opinions to myself on that one. I wish others would keep their religious chanting to themselves or at least stay away from microphones and loudspeakers when they do it.

Dubai is a Truly International City


In the three weeks I’ve been here, I’ve probably run into twenty different nationalities. Russians, Indians, Filipinos and Arabs mostly, but not all Arabs are from the same place, and Iranians aren’t Arabs, and there’s just a big world out there that we don’t see represented in the same numbers back in the Midwest. Thailand was full of expatriates too, but most of them weren’t there trying to make a living. You get the idea that most people here are trying to get ahead financially. That’s why they’re here in the first place. It’s not cheap to live here, and although massage and prostitution exist, they’re not affordable by geezers on a pension. So it’s a different scene entirely than I’m used to. In my travel experience, I’ve never run into anything quite like this. Nicaragua is mostly full of Nicaraguans, and Argentina, Argentinians.  But foreigners outnumber Arabs here 11 to 1. 

Life in a desert


And I’m not exaggerating. I don’t know what people did here before they discovered oil and were able to afford air conditioning, but for this recent immigrant, having come from a year in Thailand, which was plenty hot, it’s impossible to imagine life here without air conditioned cars and buildings. The desert is vast, and at least from my perspective, flat as a pancake. I understand there are some places a few hours away that feature hills, but I won’t be able to find them until I buy a car. Fortunately, cars and gas are cheap. Most of the locals drive around in very large, brand new SUV’s. People drive fast here. The rich Emerati young men drive muscle cars.  Nobody’s worried about being “green.” They sell bicycles in some shops, but I don’t know how you’d use one here. You’d be killed if you took it onto a major road. Half the year it’s too hot to even imagine riding a considerable distance on a bicycle. And nobody walks.

 

My morning and afternoon commute to and from work.


OK, I know I’ve been crowing about the joys of being retired, but I got offered a job that seemed promising,

and so I’m back teaching at a University. This week we move into our new apartment, which is in a vast, mostly vacant apartment complex called University View Apartments. The Universities they view are all housed in a complex called “Academic City, which is directly across from our building. Just cross twenty acres of sand and there you are. Of course, if I were to stumble and fall, I might be  a bundle of bleached bones before anyone discovered me, as I’m the only person who walks to work in this area.