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.
Emarati Girls

Emirati Girls
From Flickr
User: Lauras Eye
Original: https://flic.kr/p/8SR7ug

  • 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.

 

Major Mariam AlMansouri UAE's first female fighter pilot

Major Mariam AlMansouri UAE’s first female fighter pilot
Source: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/government/uaes-female-fighter-pilot-leads-airstrikes-against-isil

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.

Emarati Man

Emirati Man
From Flickr
User: Charles Roffey
Original: https://flic.kr/p/jQ3pRf

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.
Emarati Young Men

Emirati Young Men
From Flickr
User: Richard Messenger
Original: https://flic.kr/p/77JtsR

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 😉

Burj Al Arab, a luxury 5 Star hotel in Dubai

Burj Al Arab, a luxury 5 Star hotel in Dubai
From Flickr
User: Fintrvlr
Original: https://flic.kr/p/ebdh32

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina
From Flickr
User: Miroslav Petrasko
Original: https://flic.kr/p/nTg69F

Branding

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 .

Emirates, the sponsor of Arsenal

Emirates, the sponsor of Arsenal
User: Ronnie Macdonald
Original: https://flic.kr/p/8q93t9

An Emirates Airplane

An Emirates Airplane
From Flickr
User: Christian Junker
Original: https://flic.kr/p/fo6EUF

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…
Camels everywhere?

Camels everywhere?
From Flickr
User: Hisham BinSuwaif
Original: https://flic.kr/p/q6cRh

Alone in the desert

Alone in the desert
From Flickr
User: Charles Roffey
Original: https://flic.kr/p/kXDNq2

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.

Desert Safari

Desert Safari
From Flickr
User: $amil
Original: https://flic.kr/p/bLQh6e

 

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.

Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world

Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world
From Flickr
User: Gordon
Original: https://flic.kr/p/nKwuYP

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
From Flickr
User: Hisham BinSuwaif
Original: https://flic.kr/p/buBDPk

Emirati Drivers

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:

  1. Very often driving a Lexus Car.
  2. Love driving 4-wheel cars.
  3. Most of the Emirati cars are heavily tinted.
  4. 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.
Typical Emarati car - a tinted 4-Wheel

Typical Emirati car – a tinted 4-Wheel
From Flickr
User: Hisham BinSuwaif
link: https://flic.kr/p/qYWX5

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:

Beach Party in Dubai

Beach Party in Dubai
From Flickr
User: Kieth Parker
Link: https://flic.kr/p/66ar2e

Night Life in Dubai

Night Life in Dubai
From Flickr
User: Kieth Parker
Link: https://flic.kr/p/5QKER1

 

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 🙂

 

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