NOT Nice, ‘Baby’

Posted on March 31, 2010

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As written for The UAE Community Blog.

Residents of the Emirates were racked with the shocking news that Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed (younger brother of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi) was involved in a plane crash last Friday. On the recovery of his body from a lake in Morocco just yesterday, the United Arab Emirates has now officially declared the customary 3 days of mourning.

As a sign of respect during mourning periods of this sort, radio stations cancel regular programming in deference to playing either classical music or recitations from the Holy Quran, and similarly events/concerts/gigs previously scheduled to take place during this duration of time are either cancelled, postponed or requested to ‘tone it down a notch.’ Literally meaning that there’s to be ‘no booze tonight.’

Now, expats residing here are already aware that Dubai is a very liberal city, especially with that permission slip it distributes to certain watering holes and restaurants, licensing them to serve alcohol (yet responsibly). And as a result, many residents are more than understanding when on a regrettable event such as this, that permission slip is retracted for a couple of days. No harm done. No offence taken.

It comes as no surprise then, that on the receipt of this text from a popular establishment, the entire local and expat community were left reeling:
STOP! COLLABORATE & LISTEN! VANILLA ICE AT BARASTI IS GOING AHEAD TONIGHT AS PLANNED. NORMAL OPERATION. WE ARE NOT DRY! NICE, NICE BABY! 5PM-3AM C U ON THE SAND

This crude ‘reassurance’ that their gig is on as scheduled, delivered a response far from the enthusiastic ‘hurrah!‘ the institution probably expected.
Both the online and offline community reacted strongly and almost instantaneously to the SMS, deeming the establishment ‘disrespectful,’ ‘inconsiderate’ and ‘insensitive’ (among other aliases). And the fact that it was sent entirely in upper case suggested to the residents the lack of sensitivity towards the ruling family. Many promised to boycott the event (if not the venue entirely), and others are rallying for a public apology.

The fiery responses to the promotional text just goes to prove that the UAE expat community is more true to the nation than the bottle, a fact that unfortunately the foreign media so adept at ‘Dubai bashing’ will never pick up.

Its strange circumstances that unite the nation, and whether this protest will prove successful is yet to be seen. A humbling act of solidarity all the same.

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Posted in: Community, dubai, UAE