Every Nation, Religion, Tribe, and Colour has been at the receiving end of some forms of stereotypes and prejudices at one point or the other. Ironically, those who answer to prejudices also find themselves prejudiced against others. In being at the receiving end of stereotype, the GCC region is not an exemption. I will focus on the United Arab Emirates in this article.
In a 2021 Youtube sermon, Asrar Rashid criticized the UAE government claiming that: people do not move there for religious reasons but luxury; to see tall buildings and for tourism; no “religious site” and after a session of hogwash implored UK Muslims not to go there. Sadly, he forgot to mention where they should go to.
A stereotype is an over-generalized, widely accepted opinion, notion, image, or idea about a person, place, or thing. To put it lightly, it’s a common ‘misconception’ associated with traits of individuals or groups. According to Simply Psychology, we use stereotypes to simplify our social world and reduce the amount of processing (i.e. thinking) we have to do when meeting a new person by categorizing them under a ‘preconceived marker’ of similar attributes, features, or attitudes that we observe. Most times, stereotypes do not necessarily reflect reality.
My wife who had earlier spent about a year in the UAE would enchant me with praises for the country. “If I die, I would love to die close to the Ka’abah or the countries surrounding it in the GCC region”, She would say. With excitement, she would try to convince me as to how the UAE may be good for business, religion, and raising children against the popular narratives pushed by many Western Human Rights organizations.
Finally, I listened to the voice of reason and we made plans to move. Within a short time, we made our plans and moved to the UAE intending to stay. Since my stay in the UAE, I have been exposed to a different reality that I will, God willing, give an account of in subsequent articles in this series.
Customer Happiness Centre
Two days after we got to the UAE, my wife fell ill necessitating her visit to the hospital. As fate would have it, she spent five days at the hospital before she was discharged. Excitedly, I rushed to take her home but that wouldn’t happen except I pay the hospital bill.
I requested the bill and after some minutes, a 4-page document detailing their services rendered and the bill which was 11,110 AED. I wiped my eyes and asked the staff that handed me the bill, “is this 1,110 or 11,110 AED”. Alas!, I read it clearly, 11,110 AED!. Dumbfounded, I went outside to catch some air. “After the traveling expenses and just settling, where do I get 11, 110 AED”, I silently lamented in grave somberness.
Minutes afterward, my wife called to ask if everything is settled. I broke the news to her and she said, “well, these are kind people and it is Ramadan. Just tell them that you do not have…the truth…just the truth”
Positive, I asked to see the PR to talk about the bill. The PR, an Arab, listened attentively as I tabled my case but was quick to say, “no problem” when I got to the I-don’t-have-money part. He asked if she had insurance…NO…Emirates ID…I just got there…
After answering some questions, he eventually asked me to pay 1,000 AED instead of the 11,110 AED. That was a whopping 10,110 AED. Now, the most important point here is that this kindness was extended to someone whom many would say the Arab man will not respect or would be racist against on account of his colour.
The people here are as peaceful as the “peace be unto you (As-salaam ‘Alaykum)” they say in their greetings and are extremely kind. This is what western-culture oriented human rights organizations will not tell you. It is also very important to note that the premise of their peaceful and kind nature is the religion of Islam. This also debunks the stereotype that terrorists are the face of Islam.
The Emirates has been designed to be a centre of happiness with their customer care centres called Customer Happiness Centre. Indeed, It is.
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman