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What will it mean to be Emirati?

What will it mean to be Emirati?

In a time of regional chaos, celebrating National Day should mean more than waving larger-than-life flags and putting on car stickers.

November 21, 2011 12:29 by

The UAE turns 40 this December.

Celebrations are already in gear, with flags draped across government buildings and festive lights adorn popular public areas.

Our good friend, Alex McNabb of Fake Plastic Souks, takes about the event in this blog post “Crazy Apeshit National Day” and about the genuinely jovial celebrations that take place and how the celebration of this nature is very rare in an ‘Arab Spring’ era.

As Alex points out, with this year’s celebrations amped up (having already started this November), critics say the National Day will become a government mouthpiece for reigning in continued loyalty and to stave away any possibilities for an internal revolt similar to what other countries in the Arab World are experiencing.

Some of us on Kipp have been calling the UAE home for more than a dozen years now and we agree with Alex that the nationals do have an authentic appreciation for what their rulers have done for the country and its people. Loyalty to the leadership is commonplace.

The UAE has been relatively untouched by the Middle East revolts. The closest it has to anything of this nature is mysteriously silenced Facebook page revolt that was attempting to rally some citizens to protest on March 25 this year. That page has now been taken down and the final paragraph on this Wall Street Journal article is one of a few remaining links that prove its existence.

A step further beyond this fledgling plans that have quickly died down is unlikely, as even Emirati blogger and op-ed columnist Sultan Al Qassemi would tell you. In an article published originally in Al Akhbar, where Al Qassemi foresees the inevitable breakdown of Arab monarchies in three cycles:

  1. Kuwait, Jordan and Morocco (Note the Kuwait Parliament was stormed by protestors just last week.)
  2. Bahrain and Oman
  3. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE

Al Qassemi leaves the third cycle open-ended, citing an underdeveloped society infrastructure and a complex family rule as reasons for a longer monarchical rule in the Emirates.

It’s for these very same reasons that Kipp would like to think that the celebration of National Day should mean more than just confetti, car stickers and gigantic flags.

While of course Kipp doesn’t want to be a spoil sport (who are we kidding, we love doing it!), the National Day should also be seen as the one day in an entire year when a bit of reflection on the past, and more importantly the future, of Emirati identity is most appropriate.

And will that cultural definition include greater entrepreneurial opportunities? cradle-to-grave government assistance? Beyond personal wealth, what intangible inheritance will the next generation receive?

Reflect. Create a plan of action. And then in the words of our friend Alex, go ‘Crazy Apeshit’ on this blessed day.

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