Sunday, May 22, 2011

Avoiding Trouble

Following up on yesterday's story about how a UAE Naval Officer ended up in the Uncle Slammer in Rhode Island, The National has an article out today about an awareness campaign aimed at helping Emiratis navigate the laws of other countries, to avoid getting in trouble.

I find this somewhat refreshing, as generally the articles I have read are about how foreigners should know and respect the laws of the UAE. Which they should. No argument there. But reciprocity is always a good thing.

The article, however, seems to be rife with subtext that is as humorous as it is enlightening. Why, for example, did Ambassador Issa Masoud, the director of Emirati affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs feel the need to say this? -
And when you treat people, you have to not be arrogant, especially at the borders and at government buildings," he said. "Don't forget you are not in your country."

Is this an issue that has come up in the past? Like with the Italians at the World Cup in Japan in 2003?

It's a prudent warning. Don't be an Ugly American, or British Yob. Be humble. Be respectful. I think this is a necessary caution not just for Emiratis, but for anybody, anywhere.

Like I said, it's good advice, but it's not what the article is about. The article wasn't written to address courtesy in general, but to address a more specific point. The core of the article is what comes next, and it directly relates to yesterday's story. The Ambassador goes on to say:

Families travelling with a housemaid should also exercise caution, he said.

The ministry advises employers to pay their maids salaries in line with the host country's minimum wage while abroad, particularly when travelling in Europe. This would "avoid trouble from them running away to human rights".

In light of the current climate, I will forgo any and all comment on this beyond that of a wry smile.

It is always best to avoid trouble.

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