Thursday, February 11, 2010

Clarifying my position on long-term residencies and citizenship once and for all

My views on the two above issues have been, unfortunately, mistranslated. In an FT article covering Mapping Dubai (podcast + prezi). Arabic summary: سيمون كير بـ"فايننشال تايمز": انتقد مشعل القرقاوي -مسؤول بهيئة الثقافة والفنون بدبي- مساعدي صاحب السمو حاكم دبي الذين "تسببوا برفع ديون دبي لمستويات عالية لتنافسهم في إرضاء الحاكم"، وتحدث "مشعل" عن برنامج للتجنيس حتى يصبح للجيلين الـ2 والـ3 من الوافدين مصلحة أكبر بدبي، ويرى "كير" أن آراء "مشعل" قد تتماشى مع آراء أسر دبي التجارية، وذلك يبشر بعودة دور الحكومة التقليدي كمنسق أكثر من كونها قوة تجارية

It is also worth noting the translation of what Dubai's economic role should be is also inaccurate.

My views on residency e.g.

My friend isn’t from here – but home is where the heart is, Lost in Migration: how the system failed Salam Nass* and UAE should be more than just a port of call and citizenship e.g. Who wants to be an Emirati? have been consistent for as long as I've had them.

Below you will find the body copy of an email I circulated to mainly expatriate friends in June 2006 that further clarifies my consistent position on granting Emirati citizenship; it's the first time I went on record with my views.


It's about time I addressed the national identity issue in the UAE especially since I've already spoken about everything else that I am passionate about…

Fortunate to Dubai and, subsequently, the UAE was the British's resettlement of their major center from the coasts of Iran. Hence all the trade and smuggling that was to pass from India to Europe through Bahrain, Iraq and then Egypt would pit stop there. That was the seed of how it became the 3rd largest re export center in the world. But it doesn't stop there… almost 100 years later it is in a unique position to truly be the beacon of hope between the secular Occident and the not so secular mid-eastern Orient. So an open door policy that functions much like the Hard Rock Café's ''love all, serve all'' slogan was adopted. And yes by various economic and social measures it has been successful.

Studying the demographics of the country closely… there is a problem. Amidst the development of the city… the issue of identity has not been addressed. Dubai may very well be a tossed salad as opposed to the exhausted advertisement of a melting pot – when moving here one doesn't really change much. In the end this is the only place where you could move to, become wealthy (as in millions) and never have to learn the language of the country!

And so this is the legacy of Le Nuevo Andalucía de Arabia. But I wonder if the price for this expedition will be the Bedouins who shepherded cattle under the scorching dry sun of Al Ain and pearl divers of the coasts of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the rest of the coast. Granted! We could not sustain our boom without accepting the influx of knowledge and labor with a long term commitment, but we must sustain our identity. We must become Jeddah not New York.

The natives still exist and to all those who complain about being here for 30 years and not being eligible for citizenship I tell you this: Your contributions are deeply appreciated and have been duly compensated for but you have not embraced the culture… and there is a culture. And until then, you may be welcomed expatriate residents with rights and obligations as you may be anywhere else.

This is a place where people have kept a culture for centuries fairly intact while embracing the new ideas and thoughts.

Am I afraid that we may have citizens who cannot speak Arabic, do not engage in cultural practices and may not hold the same social values that Emariti's do? Of course I am.

Do I think there is a solution? Absolutely. Those who wish to continue to claim their right as being Emeriti may do well to accept that just as you may expect to receive by default all the rights as a national you will also need to give back – beyond compensated blue and white collar contribution – by embracing the culture.

I think nationalising people in the UAE is crucial and must be undertaken with strict cultural rather than intellectual and financial criteria. This is not Canada. We should start by the Bedoun families in Satwa and Qussais. Let’s not forget that their cousins in Kuwait withstood the 1991 invasion and fought alongside the nationals... we dont need that kind of a wake up call.


Anonymous Dagny said...

Mr. Roark. This is fantastic. Just fantastic.

Thursday, February 11, 2010  
Anonymous Dagny said...

Mr. Roark. This is fantastic. Simply fantastic.

Thursday, February 11, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Mr Gergawi's point. I dont think there is any real need to give citizenship to expats. In any other country with such a demographic imbalance, I doubt that such a suggestion would ever be entertained. However, I do suggest that the norms for residency be relaxed to some extent, based on financial capability if required. For instance, the three year renewals, 6 months limitation on time outside the country, etc could be improved upon. I also feel that strong anti-expat feelings could be reduced by proper dissemination of information. We expats have benefited very greatly from the UAE, and I believe we have paid our dues as well, to a large extent. The idea that expats take away jobs from nationals has to be tempered with the knowledge that it was the welcoming attitude of UAE to expats that caused its growth and the creation of all these jobs in the first place. That said, I still have to say that this is one of the best places to live and work in the world, so far as I have seen.

Monday, February 15, 2010  

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