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I've been thinking a lot about the various conversations I had with many ex-pats present at a barbecue with my uncle's next door neighbors whilst in Dubai. It was a great insight for me to hear the variation of perspectives towards the UAE, Iran and England, especially due to the guest's varied ages, backgrounds and social orientation. Maybe I can summarise:
A tall animated American whom had conducted much business during the Shah's time made sure that I didn't miss his many praises of Iran. This analytical chap presented me with an amusing explanation as to why Iran went through a revolution, "spark plugs!" he exclaimed. "It's the little things that build up" he said before continuing his experience of the preceding hours before the revolution. His business was in the motor-trade and he went on to inform me of the business environment during the transition. "The Shah is no good!" he paraphrased in Farsi with the most Iranian of facial gestures. He further explained the attitudes' of Iranians before the revolution, reciting conversations with his many good friends he'd acquired during those days.
The wife of this chap was an elegant dual national - born and raised in Turkey and partly living between America and the UAE. She was keen to hear my opinions regarding Iran's political landscape. We discussed the appearances of the Iranian president within the western media which were mostly concerning Israel. She leant forward whilst lowering her voice to let me know that she understands the comments in question and is most amused by the vociferous response. She spoke mostly about altering standards of living mostly within America and was very concerned about the direction yet more concerned about the the peoples response - or lack of. "It's turning into a police state", she told me nervously and went on to present evidence.
I discussed social differences between the UAE and England with an ex-pat Brit copywriter who now lives and works in Dubai. He explained about his love for Dubai's unquestionable acceptance of multiple faiths and backgrounds, suggesting that Britain only presents this on the surface.
My uncle baffled me with his amusement towards my half-arsed boycotts and concerns with western foreign policy. His response to these and other matters startled me. "Before we entered Africa the average life-expectancy was 34-years old, now it's 37... things are surely better?". I was dumbfounded with this comment and wished I was quicker in a counter-response to this and so much more. As I indulged his informative and impeccable explanations I realised however that we fundamentally agree on more than I would have expected. He later explained why he was amused by my concerns which led to an interesting debate about the period of history people grow up in and how this adapts one's focus.
"Why did you leave England?" I asked another ex-pat Brit. "England isn't the country I grew up", he reluctantly responded. He seemed bitter when elaborating on stories concerning his dad's harassment by immigrants that seemingly drove him out of his home. He continued with observations of the changing economic situation in England which he is reminded of on his annual return. The cost of living seemed to be the centre of his debate mixed with disillusionment with national attitudes and government policy.
So in conclusion:
3. They think it's a joke
4. I ask myself this every day