A sign of our times perhaps....?
ABU DHABI // The openness of the UAE to the rest of the world may expose the country’s youth to influences that are incompatible with the nation’s values, a government report has warned.
The report by the General Authority of Youth and Sport says the UAE has the highest rate of internet connectivity in the Arab world, and ranks as one of the most globalised countries in the world.
But this openness means foreign ideas and values incompatible with conservative traditions can have a harmful effect on Emirati youth, cautions the report.
“The country’s openness in exchanging expertise with the outside world does not mean it is immune to the effects of foreign ideas among the young, (especially those) who are sent abroad,” the report says.
“These new values may contradict Emirati traditions and way of life, also threatening the core of national identity, making this an important issue to watch.”
The UAE is the 21st most globalised country in the world, according to the report. It includes a ranking based on political, economic and social globalisation factors, including the UAE’s exposure to other cultures as a result of hosting other nationals and Emiratis travelling abroad.Questioned by The National, Emiratis between the ages of 15 and 24 said they might spend as much as eight hours every day online. The least amount of time spent online was three hours.
“I receive about 200 e-mails from friends every day, and it takes me at least three hours to respond,” said Amal, 24, who asked that her real name not be used. “I stay up late every night surfing the net, and I read about everything from Islam and other religions to new restaurants and businesses opening up here.”
“I have many friends who blog, and I can spend eight hours surfing and reading blogs from other countries,” said Ayesha, 21, who also declined to use her real name.
Salama al Shamsi, 24, an Emirati living in Abu Dhabi, noticed that those younger than her such as her siblings’ friends were already exhibiting fewer of the traditions that she grew up with.
“There’s a big difference with the younger generation because we see them as ‘crazy’,” she said.
“Local young people who are less than 16 or 17 years old, most of them don’t care about abayas. You see local girls – even 15-year-olds – not wearing their abayas. When we were their age we used to always wear our abaya.
“They’re so Westernised – way too much. The joke in our family is that in 25 years we’ll be like the people in the wax museum. We’ll be extinct.”
But the good news, says the report, is that young people still have a strong bond with their grandparents, even though the elderly are a small minority in the population.
“Even though the percentage of elderly is low in the population, the reality of everyday life is that young and old alike both share time together within the extended family unit, especially in rural areas and in spite of smaller families in urban areas,” the report says.
“The grandfather and grandmother still hold a special place within the Emirati family.”
Hyam al Mureikhei, 24, studied art in college and she has already exhibited some of her work. She said her bond with the older generation inspired her to incorporate the country’s heritage into her art.
She formed an group of six artists called Mizma, which means “a container you put stuff in” using old colloquial language.
The group did a show in Bastakiyah in Dubai, and plan to do one in the Swiss ambassador’s residence before they head off to London for art training.
“My Emirati grandmother, we used to talk about their life and how they used to move from Liwa to Delma. She is from the desert people and her husband from sea people,” she said.
“Much of the art I’m doing revolves around the UAE heritage. We used a type of material used in a burqa, which is an influence from my grandmother. I also wanted to show our old cultural heritage in a modern way.”
For Ms al Shamsi, the strong bond with her grandmother has been a window through time. She finds that life today seems less fulfilling than in the old days.
“In Dubai the [older] relatives keep telling us about their life as children,” she said. Their life was natural. They lived for the moment. They did not focus on the future like us.
“The way we are now, when we’re doing something in the moment, we can’t help but think about what we’re going to do later. We get bored within an hour.”http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090503/NATIONAL/705029825/1010