Everybody needs good neighbours
An influx of ‘bachelors’ has residents of one Dubai area up in arms. Kipp is disappointed that the default response to the new inhabitants is defensive.
October 7, 2010 2:09 by shafeer
A recent report in the Gulf News says that residents of Discovery Gardens are growing weary of the increasing presence of bachelors in the community. Since the fall of the rents by 40 percent, the Garden’s profile has been altered, apparently. The more affordable rates are attracting a different section of UAE society, much to the dismay of preexisting residents. Among the complaints are frequent comments like, “We don’t feel safe to let children play unsupervised,” and “My wife complains she is stared at.”
Kipp’s personal favourite complaint was the awkward, almost embarrassed, objection of one resident featured on a sound bite in a report by Radio 2. “Well, there are some parts of Discovery Gardens, especially in the afternoon, there are a lot of men outside, so it gets kind of…” her voice trails off and she giggles awkwardly to fill the silence. “Weird” she completes.
The resident’s being honest, and we appreciate her candor. But the space between her abrupt pause and filler giggle is perhaps most symbolic of the UAE’s ambivalent relationship with what it labels as “bachelors.” We need the bachelors to do the work no one else will really do for such low pay, but their presence makes us feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Reports like this remind us of the ban a mall in Al Ain placed last summer that prohibited workers from entering the mall. The ban was lifted shortly after its enactment, yet the sentiments behind such an action are disturbing.
Kipp will be frank: the bachelors that the local press is so fond of referring to are really working class men from the Indian sub-continent. It is strange that “bachelor” is the locally preferred euphemism, as in fact many of these men are married and are working in the Gulf in the hopes that their remittances can provide a better future for their own children.
But the question really has nothing to do with a man’s marital status. It is essentially a question of class, for it is certain that unmarried men of a “better” social status will face absolutely no problem securing accommodation in even the most respected of neighborhoods in the UAE.
Kipp can’t believe that, after all these years and with all our political correctness, there remains a very distinct hierarchy in the minds of UAE residents. And it’s one that borders on hypocrisy, because while it is everybody’s favourite past time to pity the over-worked labourers and to rant about the bad authorities exploiting the working class, actually living next to the objects of their sympathy (and in the process allowing them a better standard of life) isn’t particularly inviting, apparently.
We are not going to pretend that we haven’t faced our fair share of awkward stares and glares from the “bachelors.” Yet to go as far as to call it unsafe, and demand separate living quarters for the same, is surely not far away from boarding up signs saying “No Dogs or Bachelors.”