Dubai: People come to the UAE from different parts of the world and get a chance to interact with nationalities that they might even consider to be ‘enemies’.
One such example is that of residents from India and Pakistan – two countries who have been at war at least three times since they gained independence in 1947.
Indian national Danish Syed, 24, came to the UAE with very clear instructions from home: “Stay with Indians.”
As luck would have it, he ended up living with a roommate who was Pakistani. Two years on, they are the best of friends.
Syed spoke to Gulf News about how living in the UAE has given him a better understanding of the concept of tolerance.
“Since I have been here, I have met people from many different nationalities and have always found something good in them, even those who you would normally think of as an ‘enemy’ back home. Now, I try to see people as who they are and not factor in their nationality or religion. I feel I have stopped judging people before I get a chance to know them,” he said.
His roommate, Pakistani national Mohammad Haris, even produced a YouTube video on how the UAE becomes a catalyst in removing pre-conceived ideas that people might have about ‘the other’.
Friends for life
UAE resident, 32-year-old Indian national Pamela Nazareth, has grown up with a friend from Pakistan who attended an Indian school. The opportunity to mingle with various nationalities in the UAE, Nazareth said, helped people develop greater appreciation for diversity.
You become more aware of cultural sensitivities and knowing that you can actually celebrate different cultures instead of having a stand-off with them is definitely a life-changing experience.
“You work with other cultures. Especially if you are part of a multi-national company, it gives you the chance to work with a diverse global team. You become more aware of cultural sensitivities and knowing that you can actually celebrate different cultures instead of having a stand-off with them is definitely a life-changing experience.”
Abdul Basit Qureshi, a 40-year-old Pakistani marketing manager, hails from Karachi while his wife is from West Bengal in India. For him, marrying someone from India did not feel odd because he always had friends and peers who were from the neighbouring country.
He added that even though Indians and Pakistanis move to other countries in the world, the connection that is witnessed in the UAE between the two communities hasn’t been replicated as well elsewhere.
“I don’t see a reason why individuals or communities in other parts of the world can’t display the same camaraderie that you see in the UAE. If they do, they can show the people back home – yes it can be done,” he said.