Here’s a funny thing, where I’m currently living, those who were born and bred here make up around 18% of the official population, in the UK immigrants make up around 13% – question, which country is talking about being swamped? Which nation is considering kicking out the ‘migrants’ and worrying about the loss of ‘their’ culture and ‘their’ country? Clue, it’s not my sunny home in the middle east.
I’m living in a fabulous country, which is not perfect and not ideal by any means, but I’ve been here on and off for the last 20 or so years and in that time I’ve seen it grow from a slightly odd ex-pat backwater to an exciting modern city.
Some parts of it have remained unchanged: you can still take an abra across the creek and buy spices from shops redolent of rose petals and coriander, you can still watch camel racing and have a rich black, fragrant coffee in a shop surrounded by men and women wearing local dress and hear the call to prayer in the golden evenings. But you can also rely on the government to plan the public transport system, keep it cheap and effective (and government owned, not for profit), where beautiful parks and beaches are available free or nearly free and the price of some foods and essentials is monitored and kept to reasonable rates by the government. The utilities are owned and planned by the state too. When the ruling family have been criticised for its treatment of migrant workers, improvements have been made and if they are abused (and they are) it’s more usually by those who recruit them overseas, than by those who they work for here.
Again, it’s not perfect but it seems to be improving and growing all the time and I have a great deal of respect for those who run the country. Don’t believe all the claptrap that you read in the western press – the gutter red tops and UK media are not inclined to talk up a state that is a. planned, b. successful and (possibly crucially) c. Islamic.
In the UK, which is beginning to look moribund beyond belief, we have a government that seems to exist almost entirely for the benefit of those who hold the vast majority of the wealth – privatisation is almost complete and social welfare and common benefit are being rolled back as British people defend the right to be vile to one another in the cause of defending ‘their’ country and ‘their’ culture.
We have developed a nasty tendency to hunt for people to blame on our own streets, while those that keep us impoverished, hide in plain sight in their yachts, high class shops and gated mansions.
And where is the salvation? UKIP apparently, lauded by the public and press alike, given hours of public broadcasting time, accorded ‘revolutionary’ status by people in the left-wing press who should know better, and headed up by a guy who tells us he’s breaking the mould – despite being from the class who designed the mould and made a fortune charging people to use it. God.
It’s a party of ‘fruitcakes’ which has brought racists and xenophobes out of the woodwork. I used to wonder how it had become ‘ok’ to be a bigot, now I watch helplessly as people talk about ‘them’ taking ‘our’ jobs while denying they’re a ‘racist’ when they clearly are. It’s not ‘racist’ to talk about immigration we hear, but in that case why are some people saying that people of African descent should go ‘home’ and that those who follow Islam and were born and brought up in the UK are no longer ‘local’ people.
My temporary home has welcomed people from all parts of the world – not out of charity of course, but because a growing economy needs a work force and migrancy brings economic benefits. I do not feel that I am here under sufferance and there is nobody in the local press talking about ‘them’ and sneering at our beliefs and habits, inferring criminality and encouraging paranoia. The local culture remains strong and visible, including that most essential component – hospitality.
In the UK we seem to imagine that we simultaneously live in a country that is going to the dogs, but that is the land of milk and honey, irresistible to migrants (who only want to abuse our generosity). We don’t seem to be able to understand that if we enjoy thinking about ourselves as civilised world leaders that we need to have civilised values. Tolerance and a belief in the value of looking after all our citizens for example, welcoming in those who need shelter and help is another, providing an inclusive and respectful society perhaps. Hospitality is another value that we seem to be forgetting.
I am proud of my adopted country, and a little ashamed of the place of my birth.