‘Divide’ is only as big as you want to make it

Readers comment on the "divide" between Emiratis and expats in the UAE. Other topics: Gulf cooperation and Dubai taxis.

Readers say there is no great divide between Emiratis and expats in the UAE. (Silvia Razgova / The National)
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Fatima Al Shamsi's opinion article, ­Expat-Emirati divide: language can break barriers (November 27), was great to read.

She is right to say that language and culture are intrinsically linked and without one, you cannot truly understand or appreciate the other.

When I first arrived in this country, I had good intentions of learning the language. I bought reading and listening materials, grammar texts and flash cards. What I really wanted was to attend a bi-weekly language course, but none were available in my city. I was also unable to arrange an immersion course with an Arabic-speaking family.

Coincidentally, just today I was talking to an Emirati colleague who said that if I brought in all my materials, she would sit down and help me.

This takes me to the point about Emirati hospitality. Over the years, I have been astounded by the random acts of kindness I have been fortunate enough to receive from Emiratis – from the police when I was lost in Sharjah, and a sports enthusiast who went out of his way to guide me back to the turn-off I needed in Dubai, to being invited to share Eid meals or to attend weddings.

I agree that there is a divide between Emiratis and expatriates, and without dedicated centres to help people learn Arabic, the gap will not lessen.

Sadly, many expats do not want to grow personally in this way. I feel sorry for them because they are missing out.

Name withheld by request

I think any divide between Emiratis and expatriates is a state of mind.

People live their lives much the same way. It all has to do with the attitude and openness of the individual.

C Morgenstern, Dubai

I haven’t found any divide. As an expatriate, I have always found Emiratis very friendly and helpful.

Jen Bishop, Abu Dhabi

Language is a big obstacle to get over. Creating opportunities for people to meet and mingle is something that could be realised much quicker.

However, after two years here, I haven’t found such an opportunity.

Peter Lemmens, Dubai

Dubai’s cabbies deserve praise

I disagree with the article, Cab customers in Dubai want better service (November 30).

Taxis in Dubai are extremely affordable compared to other cities in the world. Most of the drivers are very good, courteous and hygienic, especially compared to the situation in 2007 when I moved to Dubai.

I think it would be helpful for the Road Transport Auhtority to stagger shift changes and meal times so there is a more consistent coverage at peak times.

However, Dubai taxis have come a long way in a short time. The occasional bad experience should not be used to criticise the system as a whole.

Elan Fabbri, Dubai

Not all expats are doing well

I refer to Sad expats priced out of their lives (November 28).

It’s certainly not only long-term expatriates or entrepreneurs who are being hurt; people who have only been here three to five years are being hammered as well.

The “bumper packages” of the good old days have all but disappeared and the majority of Western expats are now expected to come up with massive cheques for rent and school fees out of their own pockets.

Most people I know aren’t saving a bean, they are just getting by month to month.

If you have a family and you work for one of the majority of companies here that don’t pay your rent or school fees, then you’ll be saving almost nothing.

You can have a reasonably comfortable life, but you won’t save money.

J Whyman, Dubai

Cooperation is key for the Gulf

The editorial The Gulf does best speaking with one voice (November 30) was very apt and timely.

With the region facing economic and security issues, the Gulf states need a much closer association.

From the rest of the world’s perspective, the role of the Gulf states is critical.

The Gulf states provide job opportunities for people from around the world, so they are helping to support other economies through remittances.

Consensus among the Gulf neighbours is significant to the region and the rest of the world. Any small initiative taken to enhance cooperation should be supported by all member states.

Ramachandran Nair, Oman