Cultural Differences: Some thoughts that came out of your questions and comments
We just woke up to the call to worship. It is a perfect and fitting end to our stay in Dubai. My brain has been churning away because of your comments asking about cultural differences. I plan on blogging about yesterday on the plane, but before I start packing…
I have felt the sexism, but I want to clarify. I wanted to stay off the beaten path. And I succeeded. One person working at the hotel asked Jim how we even found this place. He said, “My wife found it on the Internet.” A couple of times before we spoke people called us Australian or English, mainly because Americans do not stay in the less touristy areas. Even Brits and Aussies are not plentiful here. In the area we are staying most of the people seem to be Indian or Middle Eastern. It is obvious that cultural differences play a role in where people stay.
When a man enters into conversation with one of us it is mostly Jim but occasionally Sean they speak to. When I do enter into the conversation the people have been taken aback, generally (unless they have been from India. The Indian men have behaved as if it is normal. Even the Muslims from India. Thank goodness for that). The speaker looks at who is talking, sees it is an American female, and readjusts that they are directing the entire conversation to Jim or Sean. There are very few woman on the streets in the area where we are staying and very very few that are Caucasian. All of those who are have obviously been tourists.
The Arabic men in Al Ain were great to all men and women. There was no difference in treatment. But the women with them, the few there were, were hidden inside and behind burka like outfits. They wore a strange mask instead of the one piece outfit. The men were laughing, dancing with each other, hanging out, and having a good time. The women were not. It was a view into a practice we found disturbing without having to experience it. It is especially disturbing because it is the status quo. There were some serving women who were dressed in brightly colored outfits. We were told they were servants from Africa.
I wonder if this is similar to how it must have felt for abolitionists and free people of color who visited the South of the United States before slavery was abolished. It is hard to see 1/2 the population have all rights and freedoms, and 1/2 the population be subjugated, with the vast majority of the population accepting it as the way of things.
We do not know how the women here feel. We have not spoken to one woman from the UAE during our stay. But to our Western way of thinking, free is better than not. We have had a great time, but what an eye opener.
You can read about our last day in Dubai here.