Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Do Expats Call the UAE Home?

* How do expats cope with the feeling of ‘suspended animation’ from real life?

* How do expats help shape the national and cultural identity of their children while encouraging them to experience fully the delights of multicultural UAE?

* While the UAE government is promoting measures to help expats integrate into the Emirates to what extent do newcomers avail themselves of these opportunities?

* Expats can feel released from ‘civic responsibilities’ but how do they cope with the feelings of selfishness and knowing they are mainly here for the dirhams and the perks?

* How might expats play a meaningful part in the shaping of the future of the UAE?

These questions are raised and discussed in the insightful article by Claudia Pugh-Thomas that can be found at this link:

Claudia Pugh-Thomas, Finding an Expat Role in the UAE, The National, 2 May 2009.

Related Articles:
Tim Brooks, Expats Urged to Embrace Culture, The National, 2 May 2009.
How Well Do You Know the Emirates, The National, 1 May 2009.
Alex Rolandi, So, Could You Pass the Emirates Patriotic Test?, The National, 1 May 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound
Contact at geoffpound[@]gmail.com or Facebook about blogging, writing projects or whatever.

Image: Brazilian expats in the UAE. Photo courtesy of TimeOut Dubai.


Anonymous said...

I am Dubai-born person of Indian nationality who has lived here for 27 yrs now and I still do not feel fully comfortable.

On the flip side, sadly, I do not feel comfortable at all anywhere else as I have spent time in India and Australia!.

There are a lot of injustices meted out to people who have lived here for a long time in that after everything, they are not welcome to continue retirement.

I believe it is the Human right of a person who has contributed positively and invested his time and money in a country to be allowed to Integrate fully with permanent residential stats (not nationality).

Geoff Pound said...

You make a very good point.

Other countries grant citizenship to those born in their country and also on the basis of living and contributing to a country for many years.

The prospect of thinking you might be evicted at any time and not able to retire in the UAE is a tough one for somebody who has been born in the UAE and to someone who has lived the best part of his/her life here.

To open up citizenship to those of other cultures would be enriching for the indigenous people of the Emirates.

There are ways of doing this without Emiratis feeling swamped or being disenfranchised.

It would help Emiratis to have less of a disposable attitude to the people imported to help them build their country.

It would certainly help people like you to feel less temporary and someone who can truly embrace the culture and feel at home.

Sara-Lise said...

Hi Geoff, good to have you back "home".

I don't have a home as such. My home is where my heart is. I was born in Zambia and have not lived there since I was 5 years old. I have lived in seven countries since then, and have since accepted that I am a citizen of the world.

Africa will always feel like home, as long as the other piece of my heart (my partner) is with it.

The UAE is home for a while, it is a means to an end. It is a place to make a living, with a great lifestyle but it’s not for retirement. Friends are transient here as people come and go all the time. Rules change all the time and you never know what will happen next.

I consider the UAE as a semi-permanent stepping stone which could wobble out of place at anytime, so it's important to have your foot ready to be placed elsewhere and begin your path again.

Geoff Pound said...

Thanks Sara-Lise for your kind welcome back. It feels good 'coming home'.

You make some really good points that are helpful to those Edward Said called 'out of place':

1. The sense that you strive to make your present place home (which can ward off feelings of homesickness or unrealistic hopes of some utopia).

2. The recognition that you are a citizen of the world and that you don't need to have a cultural coop you return to like a homing pigeon.

Your statement Sara reminds me of an encounter I had with a guy on a flight from Heathrow to Houston. I wrote about it at this link:


That being said it is one thing to voluntarily leave one's home; it is another to be forced out. I have recently returned from visiting Karen people on the Thai-Burmese border who have been forced to flee Burma. Their sense of displacement is palpable and their longing to return home is constantly on their lips.

I wonder what might be done in the UAE to counter the precarious feel that many expats have and to give them a greater sense of home.

Many thanks for your comment.

LocalExpat said...

Ahhh my life story. Spent lots of time and energy writing all about this on my blog. ergo the blogging psuedonym 'LocalExpat'.. might I direct you to the first entry on my blog ...


Geoff Pound said...

Local Expat, thanks for writing and leaving your link.

What a rich resource on this subject.