WE all have our pet likes and dislikes and when living abroad, they are sometimes linked to local customs.
However, some of mine could actually apply to many countries....
Mobile phone etiquette is still woefully missing in the case of many users. If they wish to use their phones, while driving, that is an individual choice, albeit a very dangerous one and I wish the GCC governments would make it an offence liable for heavy fines like it is in any other parts of the world.
I dislike mobile phone users, who ignore everyone around them by talking loudly to their colleagues perhaps in another part of the city. Why can they not just meet and talk the matter over, if it is that important, which it is often not, of course.
I have noticed that an increasing number of young people seem to think that it is the norm to buy a cappuccino in a café and then take over a table for their laptop and papers, spending a long time working the laptop. Often the café manager has to turn away customers as Mr or Ms Business Person turn the cafe into their own office. As Dubai and other Gulf cities nowadays have several proper Internet cafés on offer, it baffles me that these people choose, for instance, one of my favourite haunts.
I like a mint-new newspaper and resent the people who stroll along after grocery shopping in the supermarkets, pick up a newspaper or magazine and proceed to read it, while standing there, drop it back on the shelf and leave without spending a single dirham. They are using this facility as a library, but I think that it is stealing to use a commodity for which you have not paid – however, they obviously do not agree with me.
My mother always taught me, that it was very bad manners to yawn in public (in private too according to my Mum) without covering my mouth with my hand. Of course, when senior UK politicians’ wives are photographed with gaping mouths while visiting the queen, it does not set any high standards. I consider yawning and eating with your mouth open just part of the etiquette that does not seem to be taught children by their parents nowadays, probably because they ignore them themselves.
Babies are a natural part of most people’s lives and many of us are mothers, but I find it amazing that a parent can allow a baby to cry for more than six hours, thus keeping every body in the airline cabin awake too, as happened to me recently on a long-haul flight. There are four reasons, why babies cry: dirty nappy, pain, hunger and boredom, this is so elementary. All four reasons need to be resolved and the baby will go to sleep.
Driving is often linked to local customs, so I won’t dwell on the atrocious standards in this neck of the woods, sufficient to say, that it is always helpful to other motorists, if a driver actually uses the winking lights on the car when he wants to turn left or right.
Modern technology is marvellous, until something goes wrong. Whenever we return from an overseas trip, the television gives me problems. I switch it off when I go away in case of lightning etc, but when I plug the TV in again, five times out of ten it seems to need re-programming.
The new CD player downstairs is quite something as it does practically everything but make toast, but there is a sequence of buttons to be pressed before the music plays, which I find somewhat bewildering. And don’t tell me, it’s a ‘woman’ thing, for I can operate the equally confusing washing machine and dishwasher as well as any other household equipment.
Sales come around regularly in the Gulf. In fact, some shops seem to have permanent sales going on, yet somehow, when I pop into a store to buy an item or two, they always seem to be in the ‘no sale’ category. Now why is that?
I enjoy the excitement of living in a region which is transforming itself into a super modern metropolis in front of my eyes with a selection of shopping malls, cinemas and restaurants, even though sometimes I fondly remember the leisurely pace of yesteryear, when tourism could just as well have been the name of a town in Siberia.
I like the sound of the Mullah’s call to prayers from the mosque down the road, as it reminds me that I am living in the Middle East and enjoying an exotic and different way of life from my own country.
I like dogs, but I cannot stand cats and I am very happy that the Gulf region has a dearth of them compared to some European cities with pavements besmirched with the droppings of these animals.
I like waking up to sunshine practically every day of the year. It makes a person happy to feel the warmth of the sun on your face in the morning. True, I do not spend as much time sunbathing, as in my early years in the Gulf, but I find the warmth of the Gulf climate quite unique, not to mention the beautiful crystal-blue waters, which are superb. And the cloudless skies make photography such a joy.
I like the new bookshops springing up offering all the latest titles by well-known authors and most of them are quite willing to order me not-so-well-known books too.
I like the Dubai postal service. The post offices themselves are modern, the staff very helpful and the quality of service delivery can beat any similar postal service anywhere in the world.
I like the multi-cultural environment in which we all live and work and with all the many different festivals taking place.
I admire the patience of the nationals with so many different cultures and nationalities living among them and sharing their country.
Sometimes when contemplating a future in the Gulf region, it can be useful to draw up a list of likes and dislikes... try it yourself.
by Jonna Simon
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.