Saturday, November 1, 2008

Information the scarce property in Dubai

1st order: Recently I spoke to a project manager in the construction business. I asked him whether the financial crisis has an impact on the construction business and the Dubai economy or not, because I heard, although not officially, that work at some construction sites is on hold.
He explained to me that it is very difficult to get reliable information on that. He is trying to figure that out everyday by using all kinds of resources. The problem is that the press in Dubai is still not reliable. You will find the newspapers writing that the financial crisis has no impact on the Dubai economy, because this is what they’ve been told. However one could see that some construction sites are on hold, this is also the information that is verified off-the-record, he said. He further elaborated that information tends to be like a cloud, you have to figure out by yourself what is rather true and what not.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How Arabic is Dubai?

2nd order: From a cultural perspective I expected Dubai to be much more Arabic. I thought there would have been a much stronger influence in terms of daily cultural practice. In fact Dubai seems to be more an Indian and Pakistani place if you take the people and their habits into account. However as they form the majority of the population this is not as astonishing as one might think. Recent figures showed almost 50% of Dubai's population are Indians.
The same accounts for Muslim traditions. My observation is that you rather rarely see veil or ‘Abbaja’ – a long black robe, which traditional Muslim women wear when they go on the streets. This might be again a consequence out of the fact that just around 17 percent (see Wikipedia) of the citizens are Emirati. However one should not be mislead by this fa├žade, the law is still based on the Shari’a. Just recently a couple of two British executives went for three months to prison for having sexual intercourse at the beach.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Schizophrenic Arabs?

1st order: Recently I talked to a religious Arab, who used to be a university professor. He told me something very interesting. He said: “many Arabs have a split personality”, because on the one side they are very religious, trying to be ‘good’ Muslims paying every day and following the traditions, but on the other side they drink alcohol, feel guilty about that, send their kids to Western universities instead of letting them being educated in traditional Arabic universities. He said that this is some kind of schizophrenic, including himself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

About life, citizenship, and education opportunities

1st order: What did the two engineers I met tell me: First of all that there are many Palestinians all over the Arabic Peninsula, but not just that even all over the world. Mostly they are very good educated, because this is the only way that they can make something out of their life. The unpromising situation in Palestine might be paradoxically the reason for many Palestinians to make good. But I’ve been told they are all somehow feeling homeless being refugees not able to live in their mother country.
Secondly, the education in Arabic countries is just free with full citizenship, which you only get if your father has the respective passport. The two were raised in Saudi Arabia, but couldn’t go to State University there. Just if the were paying for a private university. Therefore they went to Jordan for their studies. In fact the education and the universities in Jordan are quite known in the region and much respected. I've been told, that many people in Jordan have a university degree (even women), because education is considered to be very important. Even people from other countries just go to Jordan for their studies. But most of them, including young Jordan’s leave the country after they finished their studies. Jobs are not well paid and living costs are nonetheless ‘very’ high, I’ve been told. Why the costs are high, they couldn’t answer.
Then they worked in Saudi Arabia for two, respectively five years. They told me that the jobs are well paid, but you have no “life” there. It’s just working, sleeping and working again. No freedom, life quality, etc. That’s why they are now in Dubai. “It’s for the freedom”, they said. Going out after work and having fun.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Broadening the scope of the blog

Two days ago I meet these two from Jordan educated engineers, who are working for a construction consultancy here in Dubai. They are both Palestinians, raised in Saudi Arabia, educated in Jordan, worked first in Saudi Arabia and now in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. They explained me a lot about the difference between these countries concerning life, citizenship, education, and opportunities. Although we didn’t speak about project management this conversation made me aware of the fact, that this is especially the background information which important to understand the means of cross-culturality. Therefore I decided to change the form of this blog by not solely posting the documentation of the interviews, but also information I gather and observations I make such as the previously described.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

When in Rome...

1st order: Weekend in Arabic countries is on Fridays and Saturdays. Normally nobody is working then. Friday can be compared to Western Sundays, where people go to church respectively mosque for prayer. For Westerners that means they behave as if it is Saturday/Sunday weekend just switching the weekdays. However it might happen that working weeks increase to six days. I recently spoke to a tax consultant working for one of the great Dubai Holdings. He told me that that he’s doing 'English weeks', which means that he’s working also on Saturdays, because his clients in England work as well on Saturdays. Interestingly enough is that the Friday is still off?

Getting a taxi or survival of the fittest

1st order: Waiting for a taxi for two hours seems to be everyday life in Dubai. You are standing at any crossing fighting with 20 competitors for the rarely driving past taxis. Therefore it is not astonishing what I have been told, that meetings are hardly ever on schedule. Public transportation includes solely taxis and buses so far. Buses are rather reserved for the Indian and Pakistani blue-collar workers, also arriving and departing systematically not as scheduled. But anyhow, having a car doesn’t protect you from everyday chronically traffic jams...

Some words on the pre-phase

The study will start after conducting the first interview. However as this study is organized in form of an ethnomethodological observation, I will start with some general impressions from now on. This will help me to warm-up, get a bit a routine in writing and provides you with some first hand Dubai experiences. Feel free to comment also on that…