The Emirati Stereotypes
I have been living in the United Arab Emirates for over 7 years now (few years in Dubai and few other in Abu Dhabi). I love this country and its people for many reasons; I feel that it is my second home. I love UAE because this country gave me the opportunities which my home country deprived me from and it brought me one step closer towards achieving my goals and dreams.
This post is about the Emirati Stereotypes ( Emarati Stereotypes), that is, the common beliefs associated with the citizens of all the seven emirates of UAE. Knowing that the United Arab Emirates is a multicultural nation where Emiratis or UAE nationals constitute only 13% of UAE’s population, this post will be addressing the stereotypes associated with the Emiratis only.
Naturally, i might diverge away from the Emirati Stereotypes to discuss things that impress me in UAE, or to address common misconceptions about the whole country, but I promise to stay on topic as much as possible.
Naturally, United Arab Emirates is an Arabic country and Emiratis have many common attributes with the nationals of other countries in the Arabic region, therefore, you might find the Arabic Stereotypes I have written before relevant to our topic as well.
Emirati Women Stereotypes
Physical Appearance of Emirati Women
- Most Emirati Women wear a black Abaya and a veil, which is the traditional clothing of women in UAE. Some Emirati women fully reveal their face and others only reveal their eyes.
- Most Emirati Women have the typical Middle Eastern complexion, olive color skin, and brown or black eyes similar to the beautiful college girls in the picture below.
- Despite having a limited choice of “outfits”, Emirati women are always presentable and elegant in the way they dress. Rumors say that most Emirati women are beautifully dressed under their Abaya with the best branded clothes and underwear ( I can’t possibly tell if this is true or false, however, my non-Emirati female friends who work in the fashion industry had printed this picture in my head 🙂 )
- Most Emirati women wear a lot of perfume, enough to smell them even while walking meters away from them 🙂
Personality and Behavioral Characteristics of Emirati Women
- Emirati women are very polite and well mannered.
- With the “relative” freedom enjoyed in UAE, Emirati women are thriving in education and in their careers. Most of UAE nationals both men and women (90%) work in governmental positions and are given higher salaries than their expatriate counter parts (little bit irrelevant but I thought it is an important piece of information 🙂 ).
- Despite the general belief that most Emirati citizens are laid back or lazy ( I disagree with that), many Emirati professionals are proving their competence and rising to high positions through hard work and dedication. To be specific, i met many highly experienced and skillful Emirati Women (especially in Dubai and Al Ain).
On september 22, 2014, Major Mariam Al Mansouri, the first female fighter pilot in UAE, led UAE’s airstrike on ISIS. Major Mariam Al Mansouri is not only a testimony to the progress of women in the United Arab Emirates but is also a symbol of moderate Islam which empowers and protects women. In ISIS’ destructive ideologies, women are under-powered, tortured, raped, enslaved and treated like commodities. The simple image of having a free Emirati Muslim woman bombing the extremist and terrorizing minds of ISIS is a very beautiful and powerful image.
Emirati Men Stereotypes
Physical Appearance of Emirati men
Emirati men wear the traditional Emirati clothes, the Kandura (a long robe for men, usually white) and the gutrah ( a headscarf). UAE men are usually very fit, I have met very few obese men that I can remember (maybe 1 or 2 out of hundreds).
Emirati men are very elegant and clean, I have never seen anyone wearing an old Kandura or a Kandura which is not properly ironed nor have i met anyone smelling bad.
Personality and Behavioral Characteristics of Emirati men
- Emirati men are very friendly, respectful and hospitable.
- Young Emiratis (teenagers) are usually very loud and maybe a little spoiled. But I guess this applies to most teenagers from most countries.
Luxuruous, Modern and Rich
The stability, consistency and security of the economy of the United Arab Emirates has made it the preferred destination for any international company looking to expand into the Middle Eastern market and an attractive spot for creative and brilliant minds.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are now home to the latest technologies, most luxurious hotels and resorts and a live showcase for beautiful architecture and creative design.
A picture is worth a thousand words… so here are another 2000 words for you 😉
In 2007, Emirates signed a £100 million deal with English Premier League football team Arsenal. UAE is the home to some of the biggest and coolest brands that spend millions of dollars worldwide, not only to promote their business, but also to promote their cities. Etihad Airlines, for example, is greatly contributing to the image of Abu Dhabi; similarly Emirates Airlines is contributing to the image of its sister Emirate Dubai; Both brands are now synonymous to Luxury .
Desert and Camels
If you haven’t visited Dubai or Abu Dhabi, chances are that you think that life in United Arab Emirates is pretty much summarized in the two pictures below (scroll down and come back :P).
I don’t blame you. I watched Mision Impossible 4 (which supposedly takes place in Dubai) and I watched Sex in the City 3 (supposedly takes place in Abu Dhabi, which is a terrible movie by the way) and both movies pissed me off because the whole “Abu Dhabi” and “Dubai” scenes simply had nothing in common with the actual Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
To wrap this up, let me present the truth:
- you only see camels if you go to rural areas like Al Khatim or the farms in between Dubai and AlAin or if you go to Camel races or the farms in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi Emirate (certainly not the cities).
- Deserts are everywhere, true, but as long as you are in the cities, you will forget that you are actually living in a desert. Most communities (especially in Dubai) have beautiful landscaping, artificial waterfalls, streams, lakes, green fields and trees… etc…
Tourism and Leisure
There is just so many things that you can do in United Arab Emirates… Desert Safari, Beach sports, Beach parties, clubbing, sky diving, water parks, movie theatres… and of course shopping malls.
World Record Hunting
United Arab Emirates has a very inspiring culture ( a healthy obsession) of world record breaking. Dubai Mall is the biggest mall in the world, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the 8th Biggest Mosque in the world.
The Stereotype: This is one of the most common stereotypes associated with UAE nationals. “Emirati people are rash drivers”.
Is it true?
Let me start first by saying that no stereotype is 100 % accurate, even if it accurately describes most of the group associated with that stereotype.
Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? – George Carlin
So your perspective of how you see others driving pretty much depends on how you drive your self. So here is how I see Emirati drivers and this is simply my personal opinion:
- Very often driving a Lexus Car.
- Love driving 4-wheel cars.
- Most of the Emirati cars are heavily tinted.
- While driving on high ways, I notice many Emirati drivers driving at high speed on the left lane, tail gating slower cars and using the head lights in a hysterical rate to warn any car in their path about the incoming “imminent threat” 🙂 . To be fair, this behavior is common amongst all Arab drivers and not only Emarti drivers.
Freedom and human rights
If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success – Malcolm X
UAE’s success has attracted massive criticism. We often find people criticizing the bad conditions of laborers or pointing out incidents when tourists were arrested for dressing indecently in public places. There are certainly issues that I am not here to deny and that the UAE government needs to address if UAE is to be considered a free country. According to the Freedom House organization, all UAE and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran are considered “not free”. It important to understand that putting the United Arab Emirates in the same basket as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Iran greatly misrepresents the real situation of life in the UAE.
The two pictures below are perfectly normal activities in UAE:
To put things into perspective, I will list a few things which are illegal in Saudi Arabia and are perfectly normal in UAE.
- Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive and have to wear an Abaya everytime they leave their house.
- Women in Saudi Arabia need the permission of a male guardian to travel or to get medical treatment.
- Simple entertainment facilities that are taken for granted in UAE such as movie theaters, mixed gyms and night clubs are absolutely banned in Saudi Arabia .
Speaking of Iran, did you hear about the Iranian happy video dancers who were jailed and sentenced to 91 lashes ? Enough said 🙂
In October of 2012, When the European Union condemned the deterioration of human rights in UAE, one of my friends said, “Please leave the UAE be, it is only remaining (livable) place in the Middle East”. This is how most UAE residents feel about their hosting country and are grateful for the opportunities this country has given them.
Thank you for reading, Please leave a comment 🙂
I think most people prefer 4 wheeled cars lol
I think you are right, :), with both car prices and gas prices way less than the world’s average, most people (Both Expatriates and Locals) in the luxurious UAE do prefer 4 Wheeled cars 🙂
“gas prices way less than the world’s average”
Well, this will not be the case soon as oil prices will jump high soon in the UAE 🙂
:), yes, good point.
I am very curious to see how the gas price deregulation impacts out lives (both Emiratis and Expatriates. On one hand, I am happy that this would reduce traffic and strengthen the economy. On the other hand, I think this will drive inflation up, causing taxi fairs, consumer prices ( food, restaurants, hotels, rents…etc) higher.
Your profile name caught my eyes, so I had a quick look at your blog. Excellent job! It is great that you do find time to write your diary consistently while taking care of your new born.
Goodluck in your journey as a blogger and as a Mom 🙂
I am also curious to see how that would affect us all in the UAE.
I came across this post of yours, while Googling/searching for other Emirati mothers (or fathers) who are blogging (if any). I only managed to find one so far, but I did find plenty other moms of newborn babies from everywhere in the Globe, including expats in the UAE. I am still hopeful to find more.
Thanks for the welcome and good wishes. Motherhood is a lot of work. Writing helps for sure; you gotta love those baby naps that gives you an opportunity to get on (and smart phones to make it an easier access to the www).
Your post was quite interesting to read. I don’t think many people know a lot about Emiratis. You are shedding a light there.
And by the way, you remind me of an Emirati friend of mine who is very interested in observing individual people/ their behaviors…etc (@what is mentioned in your about me section which I took quick look at).
I wish you the best of luck.
I think your blog will slowly become popular and Emirati moms will be able to find you and then you will form your own “techy” Emirati moms community :).
I don’t think I would ever have the patience to write a blog post on my smart phone, I would probably simply give up after my third typo mistake :p. It is admirable that you do manage to do that.
You are the first Emirati person to comment on my blog, thank you. I have been in contact with many Emirati people through my stay here in UAE, but all my encounters were in work or business circumstances, so I can’t say that I have ever discussed personal or informal subjects with Emirati people.
Even though I’m single and I don’t have kids yet, I will keep an eye on your blog and I will read and possibly comment from time to time when I can relate to the topic or post. I will be nice to see the world or UAE or Dubai from an Emirati perspective.
I am looking forward to reading more of your blogposts in the future.
I lived the in UAE for 7 years when I was a kid. I attended public schools there and lived in small towns (Madinat Zayed and Marfa). Every chance I get I go to the UAE to visit because it really is my second home.
One thing that I would like to add is that there is nothing like the Emarati Hospitality. They really know how to take care of any guest that visits their homes or town. Every time I go and visit I am bombarded with invitations to feast. Oh and the Emarati food is amazing!!
This article needs some tweaking. I have been present in the counrty for some time and have even taught in some of it’s schools. Presently in Abu Dhabi 2015, here are the facts from an unhindered perspective:
Emirate woman and men smell good: True
Emirate women and me’s features accurately described: True
Emirate teenage boys a little loud and rambunctious: Understatement. Every Emirate teenager is different, but many are not just a little loud and rambunctious. Spoiled isn’t the right term, try a sense of self-entitlement
Emirate teenage girls’ behavior: far better behaved than any of the boys. Period.
Emirate Drivers: Very True
Emirate Behavior on the beach: Only in Dubai…..But Dubai does not accurately depict the true Emirate Spirit like Abu Dhabi or Al Ain. Women do not wear shorts in public unless you are in DUBAI.
Emirate Men are always respectful: This is not so easily categorized. Disrespect in the UAE is construed differently than in European and American countries. Since I myself am originating from Arab descent, I know what I am talking about. Some Americans coming to Abu Dhabi will find they are “disrespected”. However, Emirates and Other Arabs do not necessarily consider the definition of disrespect to be the same.
YES, THE EMIRATES IS RICH AND LUXURIOUS. PERIOD.
Last Piece of Advice: Unless you are visiting DUBAI, don’t expect the culture of the Emirates to conform to your culture or cater to your needs. In fact, leave your culture behind and start fresh, otherwise you might be highly offended.
As a teacher (being more exposed to Emirati youth), I think you are way more qualified than me to describe the behavior of teenage boys and girls, so I can’t argue you will your assessment :).
I agree also that other emirates, especially Sharja (even being on the border of Dubai), aren’t as open minded and tourist-friendly as Dubai. On the other hand, I can sense that most other Emirates are aggressively seeking a share of the UAE’s tourism sector and they understand that they have to be more tolerant in order to be perceived as tourist-friendly destinations.
About different cultures having different definitions for respect, I agree with you in concept, however, can you give me few examples of Emirati behavior that could be offensive or disrespectful to Europeans or North Americans?
Thank you got your comment, 🙂
You are saying that your own country deprived you of things? Let me see, the UAE has also deprived others of their lives and caused misery in others lives. As they say, the grass always seem green on the other side hmm.
just saw your article, thank you for liking us and we are always happy to have you in our country.. God bless you
Don’t really agree. The truth made me sad.
I work in service industry, and know that most Emiratis are impolite and think they are entitled for every services, and they have power to deport you if they don’t like you.
I really enjoyed your article! I lived in UAE for more than 2 years but i didn’t get in touch with the emiratis well so i still have almost no idea about the emiratis.
Have you ever thought about that? It’s actually common for my co-workers who have worked for even more than me. I didn’t try my best to be friends with the emiratis but I couldn’t see any emirati to talk with foreign people personally. Especially i was surprised that there has been no volunteers from UAE and even other volunteers from Europe and East Asia don’t know UAE even they heard of Dubai. I think the emiratis are not willing to interact with foreign people.
They are lazy… Very few volunteers. Many of them do their own things and are spoilt brats.