Where Do You Live?

Fashion, Life choices, Uncategorized

There are areas in Dubai that are known to house the westerners; Downtown, Jumeirah, JLT, DIFC and Marina, head to any of these places and you’d feel like you were transported out of the Middle East and straight into New York. Now, that isn’t to say these places don’t have people of colour, but they are few and far between.  This is primarily due to the countries various recruitment agencies that are shockingly still allowed to request your sex, marital status, ethnicity, gender and even a picture, when you are applying for a job. Complete discrimination anywhere else, but here in Dubai, it’s perfectly acceptable. In fact, I could at this very moment screen-shot at least ten job listings that say ‘British national only or US citizens only’, that’s just the way it is. Now, what does this have to do with the aforementioned ‘white zones’? I’m getting to it.

When I started at my role as a fashion writer, that was the first time I stepped onto the metro-train, heading into our downtown offices I would wear my Louboutin’s and tread through the paved concrete outside my apartment, then all the way up four sets of stairs and then a ten minute walk to office. Now, though that I learned two things:

1) $1200 C.L loafers are not for daily metro bouts.

2) The obvious class system.

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You see, I live in Qusais, a mere 15 minutes from Sharjah, and what I lovingly called the ‘Dubai Ghetto’, though it barely scratches the surface of any of the world’s most dangerous cities. When you get on that train there isn’t a single white person. Not a single one, and then as the train starts to move further towards the heart of Dubai, and the buildings start to get that special kind of gleam only money can buy, you notice the change in people. White men, suited and women in stilettos with Louis Vuitton bags. The segregation that is witnessed here, is mostly linked to the higher salaries companies pay to foreigners and yet in the same breath, deign to give to a person of colour, but let’s focus on the societal impact of this on the Dubai community, as opposed to a detailed dissection of the labour laws.

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I can’t count how many people have asked me where I live and pretend either not to know it or furrow their brow when I tell them. What’s shocking is some of them actually don’t know it, because their lives are solely based in the white zones and venturing towards this side of town would terribly upset their sensibilities. What’s even better are the few Asian people that try to pull the same move because they’ve gone to the predominantly white-schools in the white zones and therefore do not understand why anyone would live outside of these sectors. I think where we live, has no real value. A room, a house, a shared flat, these material things offer zero insight into a person’s character, it does however provide a glossy coating to our human shells. One that is unfortunately very important to most.

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To summarize, this isn’t a criticism of anyone that isn’t ‘ethnic’, it’s a small examination of the cancerous effects of discrimination on society. Last night, I decided to go to a bar outside of the zones solely to enjoy the music and have cheap drinks, but several of my acquaintances didn’t turn up when I informed them of the location. In fact, one of them referred to it as ‘Whoe central’, to which my response was ‘There are whoes in Armani tool’, and that right there explains volumes. People would rather associate with that kind of crowd in a glitzier side of town as opposed to ever letting their friends find out that they spent their weekend partying with the coloured folk down in Bur Dubai. At the end of the day, it’s important to take pride in all your accomplishments while staying humble. Living your life in complete honesty will not only help you attract the right kinds of people, but pave the way to a future that doesn’t need a single coat of superficiality.

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The Passenger Seat

Fashion, Life choices, Uncategorized

I am a proud 27 year old non-driver. Why? I’ve just never been into the vroom-vroom engine sound or found a burning desire to get behind the wheel. Some of you are most probably thinking I’ve never tried it, I have, in fact I spent a $1000 dollars going for the first half of my lessons and never went for the final, meaning if I ever do decide to pick up driving again, I have to ‘cough up the dough’, so to speak.

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But with driving being considered the gateway to freedom for most teenagers and adults, one has to wonder, in a tax free city like Dubai where you can catch a taxi or a VIP Uber in less than a minute, how relevant is the ability to drive for the modern man? And how is said ability a reflection on our masculinity?

I remember never being into toy cars or action figures the way most little boys are, I also remember vowing to drive the moment I turned 18, though clearly my views changed as I grew older. Primarily because I like doing things in my own time. But how often do you get the ‘oh you don’t drive’ look from family and friends? in my case way too much! I do think in most relationships there is this unspoken rule that if my man can’t drive, what kind of man is he? Several girlfriends of mine have cancelled potential dates or tapped BLOCK, the instant they discover that a potential partner doesn’t carry that little card. This reinforces a misconstrued notion that men are the ones with the power and simultaneously cracks the fine veneer of modern feminism, why should I drive when my man does? If it is okay for a woman to take that stance, then why not a man? We wouldn’t bat an eyelash if a woman says she doesn’t drive but god forbid a man says the same. Most men themselves are also just as quick to question another man’s success by his inability to drive.

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The double standard exists, but I’m sure most of you would argue that most men love cars and love to drive and that my sexual orientation is said-reason for my disinterest. I beg to differ, in fact I love a good Lambo, or a classic Rolls-Royce, but that doesn’t mean I’m clambering to get my license to drive one. And yet I’m constantly being judged for it. You can see people assume you’re entitled or full of it the moment you say you don’t drive, but the reality is owning a car is just as expensive. Petrol, SALIK( Electronic Fee Barriers In Dubai), servicing and tire changes all accumulate to a pretty hefty amount.

So why is it so baffling to fathom that a successful man with a budding career would opt to choose a fine air-conditioned, leather fitted interior of a Lexus or hop onto the tram, as opposed to having to deal with traffic and crazy drivers after a hard day’s work? Because the same majority that believe women shouldn’t work after marriage are the same people that believe all men should know how to fix broken TV’s and overheated engines while vigorously avoiding the kitchen; because that of course is a women’s domain.

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In a time when new job titles are being created to accommodate the electronically savvy and luxury cars are just a tap and swipe away, why are men still held to this antiquated ideal of masculinity? The reality is a growing number of men today can’t change light bulbs or intrinsically know what’s wrong with a car and that’s alright because being a man is about so much more than your ability to navigate metal on four wheels, and if you’re surrounded by people that think otherwise all you need to do is shift gears.