Cultural Differences: Some thoughts that came out of your questions and comments

Cultural Differences

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.

Call to Worship Dubai

Call to Worship Dubai

Call to Worship Dubai

I am dressed to go out and check out what happens during the Call to Worship in Dubai. The call is broadcast, and then the service is as well. The entire thing lasts about 30 minutes and sounds quite lovely, although I didn’t understand any of it.

When we came back, the concierge asked me if we were Christian, and I said we were not religious. I decided that was the safest response in this Muslim country. I don’t talk about religion at home. I am not going to start here. The concierge was pretty surprised. He said, “But where are you from?” I said the US, and he said, “I know there are Christians and Jews and Hindis, but not religious?” I told him we had that too. I wish I had told him he was forgetting Muslims in his list of religious groups in the US.

The boys would not let me out without one of them either. It felt weird to Sean to be in charge of me. But we got a lot of stares too. I had decided we should stay in the old historic district and there were no women alone on the streets.

Call to worship Dubai, worldschooling, worldschooling India, Blair Lee

New Recording 5-1.m4a

Here is the call to worship Dubai audio file. The call to worship began at 5:30 a.m.  It was very melodious. It went on for about 3 minutes, then stopped and the service which was also broadcast into the neighborhood began at 5:50 and lasted about 15 minutes.

After Dubai, we will be traveling to Delhi, India where we will be volunteering with Cross-Cultural Solutions, working on a service project. Check out this link for more information about incorporating service into your child’s journey through learning.

Check out yesterdays post here and tomorrows here.