Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Just like Home: January 2, 2005

Professor Smith of Zayed University whispered, "some say this is a an Indian nation ruled by Arabs."

Before traveling to Dubai, many asked me, "What are the people like?" After being there about a week there is no real answer to that question. No its not an attempt to dodge the question but unlike most American cities Dubai is the epitome of a "melting pot." Diversity here is not the "kumbaya", black and white version but the United Nations- every flag represented kind. Despite all of this international diversity many of the same issues still arise: discrimination, oppression, lack of opportunity and political silencing. Despite the beauty of the promise structures like the Global Village (a an amusement and shopping park with pavilions from virtually every country) represent- Dubai is not all gold and glitter but the ugliness of reality rears its ugly head in the most simple situations. My first day at the college I finished eating and went to remove my tray from the table and was politely informed that Arabs didn't have to clean up after themselves but the Indian woman in the far corner was fingered and I was told she would pick my tray up. Professors from Zayed University told tales of students having their maids on campus just to carry their books from class to class or at days end maids meeting their students at the camous gate to have all of their belongings thrown in their arms. What's poignant about Dubai and about melting pots around the world is that international, racial and cultural diversity is not enough- the recipe must also include cultural literacy, opportunity, some threshold of equality and interaction in more than just servitude relationships. Sometimes Dubai is so different and exotic and other times its painful realities are just like home.


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