Dubai: Angered by the Western media's negative publicity of Dubai, a team of like-minded Dubai-based expatriates has decided to express their sentiments by distributing free souvenirs such as T-shirts and badges that read myDubaimyhome — in support of a place that they say has become their temporary home.
The team pooled funds and got the souvenirs made. Speaking to Gulf News, the team members said the souvenirs will be distributed to like-minded people to spread a sense of belonging to Dubai, a place that has given them an opportunity to build a safe and secure life for their families and themselves.
Prateek Chaudhry, an Indian expatriate who initiated the idea, said he was angered by the Dubai-bashing by the Western media. He said: "Dubai did not call anyone to come and live here. We chose [to live in] Dubai and so in my opinion when things go wrong, we should all chip in, instead of standing on the periphery and opting to keep quiet. I am an Indian and I was driven to tears when I saw the live footage of the Mumbai attack on television.
"India is my country and tomorrow I will return to it, but today, at this present moment, my home is in Dubai and if anyone attacks it I don't believe in keeping mum. It is the most progressive city in the Middle East and many who live a happy and luxurious life out here won't even dream of having the same lifestyle in the country where they come from."
Chaudhry said it does not bother him if people called him sentimental. He said: "Look around you, this place is an infusion of a hundred different nationalities.
"It gave us our friends, many have found their soulmates and saw their dreams realised ... it is time we start believing in the place where we live."
Baher Al Hakeem, a Dubai-based Syrian and general manager of the Social Media Company, had broadcast the initiative on Twitter and has people of various nationalities reacting to his posts.
‘All about sentiments'
He said: "It is all about sentiments. When Chaudhry came up with this initiative I joined in because as an individual living in Dubai I was quite upset by all the lashing out that Dubai was receiving from the Western media. It is time for us to show our support for this place."
Initially, the team consisted of only two members, a number which grew gradually with the hope of more joining in.
Austin D'Costa, an Indian expatriate, said Dubai holds a special place in his heart.
"I found my life partner over here," he said. "Whatever I have achieved today is because of Dubai. It really hurt us because the entire world was bashing Dubai.
"I felt as if someone was attacking my home. Enough is enough, let's pour out something positive.
"The negative coverage of Dubai has really affected the common people who came out here to earn a living. Let's not forget that we have chosen to be here. We never know when we will go back — it could be tomorrow, a year later, after ten years, but for the moment this is our home."