If there is a hell, it would look and feel like U.A.E. There are so many wrongs with this country, I’m not sure where to start. There’s the obvious soaring temperatures of over 40°C (104°F), it’s not uncommon to even have 45° - 50° temperatures. The second is the lack of Emeriti culture, the Bedouin and other tribes are non-existent in exchange for commercialism and capitalism. U.A.E is desperately trying to merge eastern and western culture together but it’s failing at both ends, what you end up with is a fake, man-made, soulless, morally destitute country.
As someone who visits Las Vegas often, Dubai reminds me of the glitz and glamor of Vegas without the gambling, free speech, free-flowing alcohol, and women’s-rights but a lot of religion thrown in. I met several Emeriti women who wanted to argue that they have lots of rights but failed to give me any examples. The Emeriti women have more rights than Saudi women but that’s a very low bar. Before you argue against me, read this article (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-23381448). There are many more examples of Western women who are blamed for rape. I was propositioned by 2 Emeriti men both promised me large sums of money, I politely declined but they continued the harassment until I told them I’m a U.S. citizen and this could have legal consequences for them. Turns out being a U.S. citizen holds a lot of weight in U.A.E. – lucky me!
The population of U.A.E. is 18% Emeriti and the rest are immigrants, mostly S.E. and South Asians making up the rest of the population. My Hindi came in handy as I talked to many locals from India and Pakistan. I asked what life was like in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Fujairah – most talked about 7-10 people living in a small room and their passports confiscated by their employers so they can’t leave or find a new job. The largest skyscrapers, 5 star hotels and glitzy buildings don’t build themselves and the Emiratis are definitely not getting their hands dirty, migrant workers are forced to work in 40°C desert heat so U.A.E can get their name in the Guinness Book of World Record for the largest man-made structure. I also spoke to some Filipino women and most of them spoke of sexual harassment, physical abuse and rape. The economic mobility in a lot of Asian countries is so low, that immigrants come to U.A.E. knowing their lives will be destroyed but they are able to send some money home so their family can have better lives.
Shopping seemed to the be the only hobby tourists and locals with money seemed to pursue, spending 8 -10 hours in an air-conditioned mall for me seems like a nightmare. It’s hard to know what the facial expression of Emeriti women is because often there are veiled. As you people watch no one looks as though they are enjoying in, men seem bored, women seem to run from one store to another and children are stuck indoors following their families around in this artificial world. Dubai is a shopping destination but you aren’t going to find bargains, you will just find lots and lots of retail!
One of the few mosques in the U.A.E that is open to the public is Jumeriah Mosque in Dubai. Every day they conduct a tour for travelers. We are allowed to take pictures around the mosque and then you sit and listen to a English woman who has adopted Islam as her faith talk about how perfect the religion is. We can ask questions about Islam but she always answer with the purity of the Islamic faith. She was a Christian prior to her marriage 18 years ago to an Emeriti man, she spoke about how Islam is similar to Christianity but Islam is the right faith for the world to progress forward. I don’t have anything against Islam or any other religion but it’s a bold statement to say there is only one right faith.
Along with the glitz and glamor is the environmental destruction at any cost. Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s growth has been intense and quick without thought of environmental impacts. One of the biggest challenges the country faces is drinkable water which requires desalination plants which produces carbon dioxide that gives U.A.E. one of the world’s largest carbon footprint. These plants also generate large amounts of heated sludge which is pumped back into the sea. The building of the Palm Jumeriah displaced several tonnes of sand destroying coral and marine life.
I arrived in U.A.E. tired, shattered and emotionally drained from East Africa which has some impact on my perspective. My conversations with the immigrants were real, the stories are what we heard. It’s hard to digest all those human rights violations. (https://www.hrw.org/middle-east/n-africa/united-arab-emirates). If you have your own opinions on U.A.E. don’t hesitate to send me an email.