Then I was lucky to spend a few weeks in Poland, while it was still considered as a part of the Iron Curtain countries. I was young, yet could still remember the effort my Polish peers showed in order to look different. Teenage sense of fashion coupled with communist resources didn't really result in what one might now call “Vintage” items. I remember that at the end of my visit, I gave all my plastic earrings and fluorescent-colored accessories to my friends and they couldn't have been happier.
|photo from http://khaleejia.blogspot.com|
|photo from http://www.carblog.co.za|
I am not criticizing anyone, nor do I think this is hilarious unlike most foreigners here do. Quite the contrary, I find this very very heartbreaking. Covered head to toe and being allowed almost no contact with others, anyone would get desperate to attract attention to their individuality and uniqueness. I am not sure if all of the locals * around here buy very expensive cars, hand-made Italian bags or Tom Ford tailor-made disdashas just to show how rich they are. Maybe some do, but I am sure there's a good bunch who just want to express themselves – and those luxury items turn out to be only immediate means available. Imagine 81% of a city's population is composed of expatriates who have little or no knowledge of the local customs hence go around in loud groups, wear skimpy clothes and have no issues openly hitting on the opposite sex. Then in your own city, you are minority, being exposed to a very sudden flux of foreigners who tend to do everything differently and often against the culture. How much would it be possible to ignore the influence and to protect your customs? What else would you do to discover your identity?
I don't have an answer. A lot of factors seem to be intertwined; sense of identity, feeling unique, being able to “own”... And all hitting up in the last 20 years or so. I know quite a number of locals who feel stuck between the tradition and the contemporary, I can only hope that they find their own paths, whatever that may be
* Locals as I used above don't refer to Emiratis only, it's intended to refer to all GCC nationals (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman)