I switched on the tele this evening, mindlessly surfed through a long list of Arab channels and settled down to watch the news on BBC. Syria is (as it has been for a while now) in the news again. This ravaged country seems to be in constant turmoil with little hope of respite any time soon. Confusion and violence have defined this area of the Middle East for long time now, making this geographic region a smoldering cauldron of strife, unrest and terror. Peace still eludes the people of this region.
Sadly, that description can pass for not just Syria but a number of Middle Eastern nations. Events in this region of the world seem to be speeding up fast and furiously. Beginning with Egypt, nation after nation is seeing rebellion, revolts and riots. Things are not getting better.
What is funny however is that many people around the world have been led to believe that all Arab nations are struggling in this fashion. One of the tweets that were on the ticker this evening said that Europeans are cancelling holidays and trips to the Middle East out of fear.Unverified media reports have wrongly implied that all Arab countries are ruled by ruthless regimes and find themselves in the centre of the Arab Spring. This is so untrue. As distant outsiders, I think they’ve been conditioned to think of all Middle Eastern nations as hotbeds of terror and crime.
Here in the UAE, the reality is startlingly different. The UAE stands out as a haven of stability and peace in this tumultuous region of the world. The far sighted rulers of this sandy oasis have managed to keep their people happy and their priorities in check. Yes, the economy has suffered from the financial crisis, people are still trying to get their lives back on track, there are definitely cracks in the frameworks of the economy, but fixing those problems and pursuing excellence continues to be the driving force of this nation.
Crime rates are as low as can be, women are safe, children can play in parks and playgrounds, shops stay open way past midnight – this dear friends, is the reality of the U.A.E. In fact, I feel safer here in Dubai than I have felt walking the streets of Brixton or Cape Town. There is absolutely no trace of extremism, fundamentalism or any of kind of social and political unrest here. Here we have no bomb threats, no tensions and day to day activities go on without the fear of being attacked or harmed.
Admittedly, though, there are still things the Emirates can learn from this season of great change that has been sweeping through large chunks of the Arab World. Much can still be learnt from the region’s mistakes and many plans can be implemented to ensure that the future remains filled with hope.
At a time when others in the Arab world are engulfed in unfathomable pain and great sufferings, I am so grateful for safety and security the Emirates provide. I know so many of us take simple things for granted so today I’m pausing to reflect and give thanks and place on record that the U.A.E is and continues to be a safe haven amongst the mayhem erupting in the Middle East.