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Sara Al Mheiri: A mere observation
June 27, 2014
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“So, who would you like to invite to your birthday party?” I tilted my head all the way back to look at my mum and responded only by shrugging my shoulders. I was absurdly excited for my birthday yet at the same time, felt such dread. My mother never understood why it took me so long to decide, I was allowed to invite as many people as I’d like.

You see, the problem wasn’t that I didn’t know who to invite or that I had too many friends to decide from. It was because I had to pick between groups. The school group who were all British and the Arab group who were all from the Emirates. Both groups weren’t that large in numbers and I could have invited both without putting a strain on my parents. But then all the strain would go on me. A ten-year-old girl who at the end of the day wanted presents, a cake and fun.

My mother one year invited both groups and it was perhaps the most exhausting day of my life. For some ludicrous reason, the two groups were against each other from the first moment they laid eyes on each other. I would have to constantly run to each group, entertaining both of them with equal time and fun. After that birthday, I vowed to myself, never again. And so, every year, I am faced with the dilemma of who to invite. Even when all my friends changed, including the Arab ones, I was still faced with this senseless feud. 

And so, as I grew up, the lines between Arabs and Westerners blurred. But only a smitch. Not enough for a dual birthday party and I fear as though that may never happen. I seem to be one of the few who is stuck in the awkward limbo, not only with friends but in life when it comes to Arabs and Westerners. I speak, act, dress as both an Arab and Westerner. And it is because of this, especially after leaving Dubai for so long and coming back with a whole new fresh perspective, I noticed something. Arabs and Westerners do not interact. At all. 

At first, I was confused. How can two races live side by side yet never interact? Then I understood, which was quickly followed by exasperation. The theory I have come up with, and please correct me if I am wrong, is that we have such stigmatism about the other. Now, I am merely generalising as there are people who do coexist in harmony, such as my parents and a few others I have had the pleasure to have met. But, there are still people who actually reside in Dubai itself and have the decency to say: “They are so uneducated, rude and think of themselves as some sort of God. Why do they get special treatment?”

Don’t think I’m forgetting the Emiratis too, with their judgmental views on the way they dress, their casual relationships and how their family isn’t as close as we are. Well, please never forget that they come from a very, very, very cold country and even our nicest Decembers are too hot for them. They need to strip down slightly before they die of a heat stroke. Then again, don’t strip down too much. Furthermore, everyone has their own lives to live, so they let them do it how they want. Not the way you do, that’s just being ignorant and rude!

Having said all that, just know that I am addressing those frustrating people who don’t even bother getting to know the other side. Next time you go into a mall, just walk around and have a look. Do you treat other people differently because of where they are from? Do you see people act differently or walk away from other races? If so, do something about it yourself! It’s ridiculously easy to change, so why wait for others to do so? I mean, we all live in the same desert.
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