Dear Ali: I recently visited the Qasr Al Hosn Festival in Abu Dhabi, and have learnt how people used to live in this region. It seemed to me such a simple lifestyle back then, but if that is the case, why do Emiratis love to live in luxury now? What has influenced this? MJ, Abu Dhabi
Dear MJ: I’m glad to hear that you visited one of the most important annual festivals in the Emirates at Qasr Al Hosn. It’s the perfect place for you to learn about our traditions. However, when you compare that lifestyle with today’s you may be a little surprised.
Development of the country has given us an amazing chance to improve our lives. Not only did we receive the chance to get internationally recognised education, have a well-developed healthcare system and a strong economy, but the development has also had a positive effect on our personal lives – the conditions that we all live in and the things that we own.
But these are only opportunities. Our taste is formed on our cultural values; the quality of things is a priority, because it means respect and a kind of safety. We pay a lot of attention to decor as well, because we respect ourselves and others, and want everyone to feel as if they’re royal. Since we can afford to live a good-quality life, we have tried to build a beautiful environment.
No matter how developed we become, the real thing is that we still cherish our past and don’t let go of it, but evolve with it to create a better tomorrow. I still remember our beloved father, the late Sheikh Zayed, the Founding President of the UAE, when he said: “We don’t necessarily want to take the Bedouins out from the desert, but to bring modernisation to them and to accept it day by day, so they can be ready for the future and without a doubt to be happy.”
Today, I believe that not only do Emiratis feel this way, but our expat community and the country’s visitors do, too. I hope that they realise how amazing the lifestyle is here in the Emirates.
Dear Ali: As an Emirati, what do you think is the reason for the UAE’s developmental success, and how is it possible that we can see the country’s leaders in public places without bodyguards? FK, Dubai
Dear FK: The UAE is a leader in the region, and the changes you mention happened very quickly. It couldn’t have been achieved without our visionary leaders and the people who follow their vision. Initially, when the country was given opportunities for development, the Government used them to give the people a better life.
The UAE has become one of the few countries to have a Minister of State for Happiness. It will take an integrated approach, where everyone can suggest to the Government their ideas of improvement and development. This was done because their main concern is to maintain connection with the people. At the same time, people here believe in the vision of the leaders, and that development will lead to a better future for generations to come.
As an example, you will notice that people here always support any new campaign organised by the Government.
And yes, our leaders can be often seen in public walking on their own without any bodyguards, which is because each of us is their bodyguard, and you can be sure this trust is mutual.
Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question.
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