Tuesday, November 22, 2005

But on the other hand .....

Following on from my previous post ...

On the other hand - There is a patriotic spirit here that most countries would wish their citizens had - flags fly proudly on buildings, bicycles, cars, trucks, even overhead cranes. Pictures and photos and mozaics of sheiks, past and present, are literally on every corner and in stores, houses and cars.

On the other hand - The Moslem people have such a strong belief that they staunchly uphold their customs through ridicule, ignorance, uncomfortable praying positions, early morning rising, fasting, temptations from those with less moral fibre.

On the other hand - Abu Dhabi goes to enormous lengths to beautify main roads and gathering places. Trees, shrubs, grass and pot plants are laboriously planted out by hand and nurtured daily - some of the most beautiful and lush sidewalks I have seen in the world - here in the baking desert!

On the other hand - I love the fact that you can watch tv without having to sit through hours of inane adverts for anything from washing powder to airlines. (But the number of adverts seems to be creeping up daily - pity!)

On the other hand - It is a dream come true not to have continuous power cuts - with the ever increasing demand, they seem to have got the supply/demand conundrum solved.

On the other hand - What a pleasure to drive without spotting (a) dozens of dazed and lost pets and (b) dozens of squashed and dead pets on the road. (I'm not sure how they solve this, and I am not sure I WANT to know - a case of out of sight etc.)

On the other hand - I am shocked and embarassed by the way some non-Locals dress in public, treat others, get drunk etc. So I am not surprised at a certain amount of resentment and disgust - they disgust ME too!

On the other hand - I am constantly in awe at the amazing things that have been created here, with or without expat expertise! I know that if this oil had been found in Africa, the profits would have been selfishly sucked up by those in power, with no thought of spreading the wealth amongst the people. Here, it seems, everyone gets a share.

On the other hand - Surprise, surprise, we've come to love our new home - it has its faults - what country doesn't - but good outweighs bad so far, and one day when we leave, a little bit of our hearts will be left here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

My reply to your replies

Just gotta say :

Yup, I am white, I am South African and I am quite broad too - good guess!!

So you are telling me :

When you walk in the street, people smile, look you in the eyes and greet you (well they DO in some parts of the world) ....

When you (as an expat) sit all alone in a cafe or on the beach or at a club, other expats smile at you and ask if you would like to join them .... (The only expat I know who has done this, is ME!)

That furry long tailed rodent I saw trying to get up the steps was a .......???
Those brown scuttling insects that stream over the pavements are NOT cockroaches??

That schooling is cheap, housing is cheaper and you are saving as much as you thought you would? Please let me know your secret ...

That people here allow you to go first out of a door, or, if not, they hold it open until you have passed through... yeah right! That, if YOU hold the door for THEM, they say thank you ... yeah right!

And, finally, that you found things here just as you thought- If you did, then you must have had someone telling you things like : "It's a beautiful country, but ..." or "The Locals might seem distant at first, but ..." or "What seems barbaric to one person may seem normal to others and will take time to get used to" ................... and THAT is all I ask - be proud of your country and what you have achieved, but also have the guts to be honest and help others be more prepared for reality, then they won't feel so disappointed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Warning : This post contains negative obsrvations which be harmful to sensitive viewers. And if you have any intention of telling me to pi** off back to my own country - a bit of advice - DON'T BOTHER.

I think I have been here long enough, and have experienced enough to be qualified to start being honest about life in this giant sandpit. I wish someone had been honest enough before I came out, to stop looking at life here through sugar-coated, palm fronded glasses, maybe then, when reality bit, I would have been a bit more prepared.

Let's be honest : The European(ish) expats are not friendly and encouraging and helpful and dying to include you in their little cliques. They actually wish you (and your newbie enthusiasm) would leave them in peace to admire their latest gold charm bracelets or Gucci handbags.

Let's be honest : The Locals (Arabs) have a superiority complex (as if they actually created the oil), are REALLY not friendly and they are not glad that YOU are in THEIR country - as far as they are concerned, you are here taking their money and they wouldn't bat an eyelid if you just evaporated into the heat haze. They can BUY plenty more like you.

Let's be honest : The people that are left - Indian, Phillipino, etc - are the only ones who will smile and greet you, and that is mainly because you have the power to hire or fire them, so they are just brown-nosing you anyway!

Let's be honest : You might be earning mega-bucks, but you are going to be spending MEGA-bucks - essentials like rent, food, clothes, schooling, books are all going to erode the "millions" before you can say : "F*ck, prices are high".

Let's be honest : The magnificent skyscrapers and glittering malls are only the facade to a crumbling, stinking, rat-ridden, cockroach infested inner city which is swimming in gobs of spittal and decaying vegetables.

Let's be honest : There is no crime according to statistics, because nobody is going to report it - what's the use if the weak and voiceless are the victims and the well-connected and wealthy are the perpetrators.

Let's be honest : People here do not place a high value on other people, animals or property. Rudeness and arrogance abound, most are selfish and oblivious of anyone else's comfort or discomfort - they blow smoke in your face and your food, they use two or three parking spaces at once, they push in, they hawk and gag and spit within inches of you, they don't keep appointments or promises or guarantees. Cruelty to animals - wild and pets - is the norm and is almost a national sport. Cars are routinely scratched, sat on, bumped into and dented, whether accidentally or on purpose.

Let's be honest : Customer service is an unheard of art - and the quality of most goods means returning to the shop at least a couple of times. If you are lucky they will grudgingly send the item in for "repair" which takes 4 - 6 weeks. No such thing as an apology or compensation. And no such thing as a Consumer Council to help the ripped-off customers.

Let's be honest : There are very few camels in this part of the country - you will need binoculars to see one or two on the dunes. There are very few souks here - those that do exist sell mostly crappy Chinese plastic rubbish, no such thing as traditional Arabic crafts.

Let's be honest : Stallkeepers and shop-owners do NOT want to haggle - they certainly are not the eager, friendly merchants you think you are going to see. Mostly they completely ignore you, and don't really care if you walk away, but if they do rouse themselves, they will seldom good-naturedly barter with you, prefering instead to bark out the price in a "take it or leave it" tone.

Let's be honest : The desert loses it charm after a few hundred times dune-bashing, one can only take so much of the history and culture, the language is unintelligible and difficult to learn, the food is bland and boring - thank goodness for Indian, Italian and American.

Let's be honest : The grass does always look greener on the other side - maybe it's because of all the SH*T there!!

Ok, your turn now - tell me how wrong I am .....................