The UAE has never reported any kind of ethnic tension among the 200 nationalities that have made it their home, thanks to the nation’s administrative network, and its unbridled support to the liberal mixing of expatriates, says SHAADAAB S. BAKTH
I used to think that courting money was being greedy. I was wrong. What is wrong is taking the wrong path.
We should actually work on making money because real enjoyment lies in a money-driven life and not in the abdication of it.
The abdication of flesh-and-blood enjoyment is healthy, but it doesn’t satiate the taste buds of a fulsome life, which is desired by all, but admitted by some.
Because somewhere all of us are more into excess than discipline, into youthful irreverence than adult ethicality and into stolen hours of coffee breaks than formal candlelight dinners.
That’s not a stray thought. It is a conviction born of years of experience mixed with a raft of painful physical problems and a regular intake of medicines to remain afloat in an orchestration that is sounder than music.
Some decades ago I joined a company in the United Arab Emirates as part of my search for a comfortable life. Or in search of things like high-end washing machines, as a wealthy colleague had taunted. I wanted to protest, but by then I knew that rich men and beautiful women had to be allowed their space otherwise we could lose ours.
The day of my departure is something I will never forget. I was completely broken, but very hopeful. I was flying to a country which was well on its way to emulative progress. I had seen international cricket matches being played on its soil.
Eleven cars, including three taxis, came to see me off. I was leaving my mother and I was leaving my love—Kolkata. I was so miserable that I felt like skipping the flight, but couldn’t have done that because I knew, and I know, that destiny doesn’t give our types many chances to regulate our wishes.
By way of inspiration I was armed with my belief that when the very core of existence— life—was ephemeral, lesser issues shouldn’t bother us beyond a point. Triumph or turmoil should be taken in one’s stride.
In less than six hours’ time I was in the UAE. I had heard great stories about the place and the roads being very hygienic and unquestionably clean and now I was seeing them. They appeared to me like a park for children. No hawkers, no cattle, no stray dogs, no political processions, extremely disciplined traffic, and of course, heavily sanitised air conditioned public transport. Having spent months in Mumbai and having been raised in Kolkata, the entire country was bound to have a very different kind of an appeal for me. And it did.
It is absolutely understandable that Sharjah was recently declared a very healthy city. It became the healthiest city in the Middle East and Africa region with an impressive score of 88 percent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Sharjah Healthy City programme commenced in April 2012, and was registered with the WHO regional healthy city network. This initiative was part of the progressive vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
It is not without reason that some of the latest surveys have also given high marks to the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. A survey of 10 cities by Bayt.com, titled “Top Cities in the Middle East and North Africa”, has placed Dubai and Abu Dhabi among the first two cities to live in. The ranking was mainly based on economic, environmental, standard of living, socio-cultural and entrepreneurship factors.
The UAE’s march of progress at the international level didn’t stop at that. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) adopted December 2 as World Future’s Day to coincide with the National Day of the UAE. World Future’s Day, which takes place on this date every year, is an invitation to the countries of the world to embrace the future and develop their capabilities in the fields of foresight, readiness and proactive policymaking to ensure sustainable development for future generations.
The choice of December 2 is a sign of appreciation for the UAE’s global role over the past 50 years to imagine and create the future, as well as its exceptional experience in anticipating economic, industrial and social change and its high readiness in future sectors.
The factors that brought home accolades for the UAE and the cities could be introduced, nurtured to their distinguishable health and fruitfully executed because of a highly responsive security system. The state-of-the-art security network can match the best in the world.
The safety that women, girls and children enjoy in the country has to be experienced to be believed. Groups of girls, in traditional and latest Western outfits, and children playing and picnicking in parks and on sea beaches well past midnight, is a common sight in the country.
A drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai to Sharjah to Ajman to Fujairah to Umm Al Quwain to Ras Al Khaimah will make amply clear the safe environment we are talking about. The peaceful nation has no place for amorous outlaws.
The country displays a great sense of ethnic balance too. It wouldn’t be out of place to mention that after nearly two years of working together, a Muslim woman colleague walked up to me and asked, “Are you a Muslim, Shaadaab?” This clearly indicates that the communal amalgamation in the country is so natural and routine that the thought of my religion didn’t even cross her mind—how lovely.
In these 51 years the UAE has never ever reported any kind of ethnic tension among the 200 nationalities that have made the UAE their home. Some of them frequent the churches that dot the nation and some the temples. A beautiful temple was recently inaugurated in the capital.
It’s not the laws that keep things under control because every modern country has laws against discrimination. Credit should go to the nation’s administrative network, its unbridled support to the liberal mixing of expatriates and, of course, the ethos of tolerance ingrained in the leadership’s psyche. The country is indeed living out Islam.
Not only does the nation believe in looking after those who walk right below its flag, but also those who live far away from it.
The UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and with the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the respected Emirati Rulers, believes in improving the lot of the poor across the universe. The country flies across the world aid worth millions of dollars each year.
Well, my experience has been fabulous and very healthy and I could write home about it daily, but love is love and nothing can take its place. And I love Kolkata.