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Dubai Chal'oo (Let's go Dubai)

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    Dubai Chal'oo (Let's go Dubai)

    Dear Kashmirigirl…

    I don't know where this belongs. Please move it into appropriate place, if it doesn't belong here. This is a homage to Gulf Pakistanis. Thanks
    I have noticed a lot of Pakistanis here with Arab Gulf connections, either living there now, or living elsewhere. Reading their posts remind me of the old days, and I thought let me write something to go back into time. To do some "Yad Taza" as is said in Punjabi.

    Form early mid 70s to early 80s, the oil boom was in full swing. Every Pakistani man was running to the Gulf (UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc.). In Punjab, there was a hardly a family without someone who is not in the Gulf. My family was no exception. Although my dad never did, but lots of my relatives went to work in the Gulf. They were so many in numbers that going to the airport was a routine, either someone leaving or someone coming for vacation. The ratio at the airport was 250 people to receive 2 incoming Sheiks (our name for our relatives returning from UAE). Going to the airport was fun. Waiting in the muggy heat somehow felt exciting. It was important that there be at least a few dozen people receiving the incoming family, because they would bring at least 15 Jumbo sized suitcases that required four people to carry one piece of baggage. In addition, there will be some big box containing air conditioner, or a washing machine that required a big pushcart. This was all in addition to the unaccompanied luggage that would arrive a week after on a cargo plane. Anyhow, after them grilled through the customs and immigration procedures, they will come out looking like champs. The man cursing (sometimes in Arabic, to attract more attention) the customs officer for how much bribe he had paid to that son of a *****, and woman will always try to calm him down. It will always be a hilarious scene. Never a dull arrival at Lahore airport. At that time there were no customs in Lahore, and all arriving Sheiks had to get immigration done at Karachi airport. But the man will still be cursing the Customs. I guess it was a custom.

    I was a college student in late 70's. I always looked upto my relatives who worked in the Gulf. I thought they were different than people who lived in Pakistan. They didn't throw trash all over the house. They put their chewed gum into the wrapper before throwing it away. They didn't drink their tea in the saucer. They didn't guzzle the Pepsi down in 2 seconds flat. They showed good manners. I always wanted to be like them. I wanted to go and work there too. I even convinced my parents that they should send me to Kuwait or Dubai. My dad even sold some or our ancestral land in our village to arrange for a VISA for me. I was still in college, finishing my first two years of college. I had applied for various grants to go study abroad. I was accepted at many places, but had no money to pay for my undergraduate college. To make a long story short, I received a letter from the school that had accepted me that they had arranged a full scholarship (tuition only plus work on campus) for me. I now had a very tough decision to make: to go to Dubai, or London, to go study or go make Riyals. I was torn inside. I always wanted to go to college and become smart like some of my cousins. But the glittering lifestyles of Gulf relatives also had a very magnetic and real appeal to me. To make it worse, my parents wanted me to go to London, and most of my relatives and friends were pushing me in the UAE direction. It came down to my mother's talking to me for 2 hours, one on one. What she told me is very personal in nature and between a mother and a son. I just want to tell others like me that when someone says "Listen to your mother", there is a lot more to that than meets the eye. Anyway that is not the point of this post, we will talk about that some other time, lets continue our Gulf saga.

    Most of my Gulf relatives (the Sheiks) worked in clerical jobs somehow connected with the petroleum industry, some worked at stores as salesmen. Most with only high school education, but they made tons more money than my other relatives who were trained physicians and engineers (some with Harvard and MIT education). Anyhow, at that time, my little mind could only look at the surface. My cousins with Harvard degrees could make a hundred times more as well, but that didn't appeal to them. They wanted to make a contribution to Pakistan. I was too dumb to realize that then. I thought they were crazy.

    But I now know that both were making contribution to Pakistan differently in their own ways. One side by staying there, the others bringing in the much needed foreign exchange.

    In short, I think the Sheiks have made a lot of contributions to Pakistan. To its economy, and have brought new traditions to the country to enrich its culture. I think we should pay our tribute to all the Sheiks for going and working in sometimes very harsh and not so environmentally friendly places, and caring for the relatives and friends back home. I still have a HERO pen set (still in the box) that my cousin brought for me from Kuwait in 1979.

    It will be nice to hear from Pakistanis (and Indians) who have lived and studied in the Gulf to share some stories of Life in the Gulf. I would one day like to visit those places that I have heard so much about.

    A nice topic Bhra Ahmadi ji,

    I have never been to Dubai but almost had a side trip to Dubai in June. Once I heard the temperature to be at 45 degrees Celcius, I chickened out.

    I was reading an old issue of the National Geographic (circa 1957, of course in my dentists's office) on the Gulf States. The article was writeen around the time the oil wealth was just begining to pour in the region and the the Lawrence of Arabia had just finished his voyage through the Arabian Desert. In the article, it was mentioned that the first tree that was planted in Dubai was a Nimm (Neem) tree from Punjab.

    My sister and her family stayed in there for a couple of days in January. They just could not believe the cleanliness, the airport and the shopping plazas (not to mention the fact the duty free shopping).

    It is a fact that the oil wealth contributed to a great degree to the the economies of the South Asian countries. Thanks to the Sheiks.

    Our company produces corrosion resitance products for the oil and gas pipelines. I talked with one of my coworkers who had been to Dubai to help out in training the Pakistani and Indian labourers in installing our products on the pipe lines. He explained that the new arrival (newborn Sheiks) show up in the field with three piece suits in a sweltering heat in the midst of the desert. But they learn quickly. My hats to them. Of course their contribution to the economies of the South Asian countries is unparalleled.

    I would also be interested in learning of their experiences in the gulf states. Especially the racism shown by the Arab born fellow muslims.

    Rab Rakha.



      Sad part is that, when I came to Dubai, four months ago, everything is finished here and only tall building and a neat & clean city is left for us.

      Frankly speaking! Dubai is much more neat and clean than London.

      In the arithmetic of love,
      one plus one equals everything,
      and two minus one equals nothing.


        so what is the scene now. is the gulf boom over or still there are jobs in gulf?


          Re: Dubai Chal'oo (Let's go Dubai)

          ^^ dubai is a different realm now. i wish i was back in the time when this article was written. although i was born in dubai and lived there till 2004, a lot had already changed. the cranes dominated - and still do - the skies of dubai. new buildings stand up almost every day. now dubai is on the verge of being host to the tallest building ever, as well as the largest shopping mall, amongst other eye-opening projects. on the downside, many pakistanis are moving out due to the rapidly increasing cost of living. and the traffic is also getting more and more convoluted - my cuzins there say that it is wayy more worse than it was in 2004. and btw only 6% of dubai's wealth is from oil these days, most is from the JAFZ (jebel ali free zone) and increasingly tourism. i still guess that OUR sheiks made a great contribution to their country - including me ; but that never stops - and it should never stop, you can always make a contribution to your country, regardless where you are.
          Khush raho apnay kharch pay


            Re: Dubai Chal'oo (Let's go Dubai)

            i certainly hope that after 8 years the answer is of any help.


              Re: Dubai Chal'oo (Let's go Dubai)

              Nice tribute

              One of the best original writer... ever been part of this bb
              Bazinggaaaa ....