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Stu (Offline)
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Default 08-06-2006, 08:55

Welcome to the World of In'Challah,

Life in Arabian Gulf is a trip. Customer service is not a concept that they have embraced/ English works half way in this country and I suspect that Arabic works about the same. You need Hindi or Urdu to really communicate. Incidentally, it is not the natives that cannot speak English. Both the UAE and Qatar are former British protectorates. English was the official language until the 1970s in both countries. Emiratees speak English just fine. It is the workers and persons in the service industries that have a problem.

With respect to lines and being at the front, I make eye contact with the person on the desk and say somthing like "Next." I then make hardened eye contact with the natives. It usually works.

Driving is interesting. People make right turns from the third lane left. It is the world's biggest game of chicken. If you hestitate because you don't trust one driver, three drivers will jump in front of you. People drive on the freeway at over 160kph while talking on their non-handsfree mobiles. In a small country you wonder where people are in such a hurry to go to. I have plenty of experience driving abroad and am doing ok, but pity the poor drivers back in the States when I get behind the wheel there after driving for six months here.

I'm not sure that "rude" is so much the right word as "selfish." Emirates are nice people on a one on one, but everyone of them has been raised in a caste system where they are the big fish. For example, if you have a licence plate with three numbers (e.g. 999) you are an important person and are given a pass by the police. If you have a two digit plate, you are royalty. Police know they will lose their job and probably be deported if they dare give these people tickets no matter what they do. 49 US states have driver's license reciprocity with the UAE. One does not (I don't know which). The reason for this exception is that a member of the Zayed family got a ticket in that state and the State refused to tear it up.

Unfortunately, the natives have not developed a work ethic. They have been spoiled by the oil revenues and cheap labor. In at 10, take a two hour lunch, and gone at three. That is the typical work day for the locals.

If you hire one, it is impossible to fire them which is why ex patriots are generally hired over locals. When Emirates are challenged for not having a work ethic, they respond by telling you how their grandparents were fisherman or pearl divers and worked very hard! Sheikh Kallifah is aware of this and trying to change things, but it is hard to break old habits.

Emiratees regularly study a year abroad (either in the States or the UK). It would really help their culture if they were given work study programs where they were forced to work as lowly student assistants in foreign countries. For the sake of their own self-preservation, they need to break this cycle.

With all the modernization that is going on in this country, the country really needs to adopt "the rule of law."

Stu

PS: Your temporary ruler is an interesting chap. He is actually one of the more progressive in the region. His proposal to give long term immigrants citizenship is revolutionary in the gulf, he has a deep commitment to freedom of the press, and his daughter just graduated summa cum laude from Cornell. In a country where women traditionally were given little education, this is a first.
   
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