Saturday, April 2, 2011

don't be such a racist

If like me, you have a lot of time on your hands, you start to notice that Dubai's work force tends to run along racial lines.

Government jobs tend to be given to Emiratis.  Government jobs can mean anything from working on the Post Office counter, taking the money at the Dubai Museum, to customer services in the bank.  It's one of the few times that you come into contact with an actual Emirati - Dish Dasha clad men and Abaya clad women. 

Apart from that, you see them walking in clans in the shopping malls.  The abaya-clad women walk arm in arm with their husbands. The younger women often wear super expensive designer clothes so you can see their Laboutins poking out from under their robes and they have this elegant and proud way of walking with their shoulders back and with one foot placed dead in front of the other.  I think perhaps they have to take deportment classes so they can move freely in such a lot of material.   They are often beautifully made up with amazingly sharply styled hair - maybe slightly bouffant at the front and hairsprayed within an inch of their lives.  They sometimes push the hijab part of their robes far back to allow the maximum amount of coiffure to be on show while still observing the tradition. 

The armies of workers who swarm over the high rise building projects like overall-clad ants tend to be very slightly built Indian men.  Very slightly built, methinks, because of the long hours of manual labour in ferocious heat. 

Anything customer service based such as serving in sandwich shops, bars, supermarket checkouts, tends to go to Filipinos or Filipinas probably because they are super smiley and polite.
"Hi sir!" "Hi Ma'am!" they say.  Or, "Hi sir-ma'am!" if you take him indoors along to the supermarket.  I have yet to meet an uncheery person from the Philippines. 

Maids, who are making the headlines a lot in the English language press here, are also often Filipinas and sometimes Indonesian.  They're making the headlines because of concerns that they're being mistreated, but that's a whole other blog post.  Suffice to say, families who hire live-in maids will often pay more than 2,000 AED per month to an agency of which the maid herself receives 700 AED, which is not much more than £110.  Per month.  OK, she gets a place to live and food provided, but that's not a lot of spending money.  No wonder they need the politest friendliest race on earth to do the job.  No one else would put up with it.

Taxi drivers are predominantly from Pakistan, although I have also met an awesome Sudanese taxi driver and a few from Bangladesh.  The working conditions of taxi drivers suck some serious arse.  They work seven days per week, 12 hours per day, for a year, then they get given a month off.  Quite often you will be in a cab and they will not stop talking.  Presumably because they are trying to keep themselves awake.  Their driving is pretty damned terrifying, but when you take into account the fact that their saloon cars are competing with the death wish Emiratis in their ginormous 4 X 4s, you can't really blame them. 

Anything a bit middle class tends to go to whites or Europeans, or perhaps the Japanese or sometimes the burgeoning Chinese and Indian middle classes.  Banking is very European and American heavy.  Food buyers, according to the Sand Warlock, tend to be french.   That's why in the western-orientated supermarkets, you see a lot of french cheeses and meats at the deli departments but not a lot else.  Us Brits know that the french believe their food and their food alone is the food worth eating.

As for newspapers, there's a bit of a racial divide there too.  Each newspaper tends to have at least one Arabic speaking reporter, if not an Emirati, because all court proceedings here take place in Arabic with no translators and that's obviously a big part of the news agenda here - foreigners getting themselves in the cacky poo poo in the criminal courts.

At 7Days, a very Brit-orientated newspaper, a large proportion of the staff are British and there's a British editor.  Khaleej Times is a very Indian-focused paper and it therefore follows that there is an Indian editor and a large proportion of the staff are Indian. 

I am not sure whether recruiters here go out of their way to hire specific nationalities to fill specific posts, although it would certainly appear that way.  Without wishing to state the bleedin' obvious, there is no European Court of Human rights here so employers are perfectly free to discriminate on racial grounds if they want.  If they want to hire someone from the Philippines because they think they are good at customer service, they are perfectly free to do so.  Likewise, if they want to hire solely Pakistanis to staff their taxi firm, they can do so. 

That nasty A A Gill claimed that Emirati youths had taken to beating up foreigners here:

If that is the case, there's certainly been no reports of it in the press, although, as several papers have affiliations with the Government, if it is true, it may not be surprising that they have kept it on the down low.  

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