Abu Dhabi: Expatriates in the UAE miss the chance to know other civilisations and peoples because of not learning languages, including Arabic, and confining themselves to their own communities, according to the outgoing Polish Ambassador to the UAE.
"How many [non-Arab] expatriates in the UAE know the Arabic language, even after staying here many years? The answer [to this question] will explain the majority of expatriates' attitude towards other civilisations and peoples," Roman Chalaczkiewicz told Gulf News on Wednesday in an exclusive interview.
[He was mentioning the fact that very few long-term, non-Arab expatriates speak Arabic].
Chalaczkiewicz is going back home next month after his five-year stint in the UAE. An Arab speaker, he has served 24 years in Arab countries as a diplomat since 1970.
"I mentioned Arabic as an example, because it is beneficial for expatriates to learn the language of the country they live in," he said, explaining that these are his personal views.
The Emirati community is one of the open-minded societies in the Arab world, the ambassador said.
"[The] Arabic language will help you to understand them well."
"But I am not talking about Arabic alone. In the UAE, expatriates have the chance to learn many languages which are the doors to other civilisations and peoples," Chalaczkiewicz said.
But, he added, expatriates are not utilising the opportunity and instead are only socialising within their own communities.
"English people going to English club only … Indians going to Indian club… Pakistanis going to their own club … this is the trend we see in the expatriate communities," Chalaczkiewicz said.
Most of the expatriate entrepreneurs give jobs exclusively to people from their own country, he said, warning this trend will create closed societies.
Asked whether it is an alarming situation, he said: "No, it is not an alarming situation; rather I will say expatriates are missing a chance, a great chance to know other civilisations and peoples."
Asked what efforts he and his community have taken to overcome this trend, he said: "I have learned Arabic and always made friends from other communities.
"The Polish community in the UAE being very small [estimated around 1,500 to 2,000 and most of them living in Dubai], they have to interact with all other communities. I always asked them to learn more languages including Arabic which offer them more opportunities," Chalaczkiewicz said.