The Short White Bus

From Postaday Did you know today is Blog Action Day? Join bloggers from around the world and write a post about what inequality means to you. Have you ever encountered it in your daily life?

Workers get driven to work in short white buses. Striking, blatant, inequality is one of the things that makes Dubai such a strange place. It falls along ethnic/racial lines.

Bouncers at clubs: Exclusively Africans, tall with bulging muscles.

Cleaners and Construction workers: underfed-looking Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Nepalese, and Indian.

More and more Ethiopians are coming as maids. Nannies are still mostly Filipinas.

Retail shops and restaurants are primarily staffed by Filipinos. They can be overly attentive and it makes me anxious.

Through the looking glass

Through the looking glass

“Everything ok mam?”

“Is your food ok mam?”

“Do you need anything mam?”

“Do you need anything else mam?”

“Are you ok mam?”

When you leave, there are so many “Thank yous!” and “Have a nice days!”

“Yes, thank you…thank you…yes thank you…thank you…goodbye thank you” is the script. My friend once walked out the door doing the ‘elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist’ parade wave, because of the absurdity of all the echoing thank yous.

There are always exceptions to the rule. La Duree likes French speaking Algerians. Holister brand fashion store hired models.

Furthermore, there is an insurmountable gap between myself and an Emirati. Oil wealth is distributed amongst the people. The leaders are not despots, building lavish estates while their country men starve.

It’s capitalism plus socialism on overdrive. Leaders are generous and strive to take total care of their people’s needs: shelter, healthcare, education…loads of cash.

Emiratis do not need to work. It is encouraged by the government, to create a healthy society, but they can get large villas and lots of money, just for being a citizen.

If they decide to work, they can have cushy government gig at the airport or bureaus in town, stamping papers for 30,000 dirhams (approx. $8,000) per a month. This salary is on top of the oil money they get.

The biggest expat communities, Pakistani and Indian, are historically caste societies. They remain divided and very tied to the caste system.

I really feel for the workers sweating in the relentless Dubai sun. I tell myself they are doing this so they can have a better life. I hope it’s true. I hope it’s worth it.


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