A Classless Society?

Dubai is a cultural melting-pot. Cliched, but true. Up to 90 per cent of the population is expatriate, and around 200 different nationalities are represented. But by far, the most foreign thing about living here is when you see people from familiar cultural backgrounds (in my case, the Western Anglo type) who have adopted a set of completely different behaviours to those they’d get away with at home.

The offensive text, several hours before being removed

Take for instance, this invitation currently doing the rounds on Twitter. It’s for a typically English celebration of the upcoming Royal Wedding and has all the trademarks of a very British affair: a garden party at the Polo Club with street-party theme, royal memorabilia on sale and Britpop on the dancefloor.

Rule Britannia, they say! Pass me a Pimms!

But then, have a look at the pricing structure: 450AED, or 300 for the booze-less option. Children, only 100AED.

“Entry for maids is AED 100 (including children’s buffet and non-alcoholic drinks) when accompanying their sponsor family, or free entry without refreshments.”

Like others commenting on Twitter, I don’t know which part of this is the most offensive: a) that maids are singled out (and indeed called ‘maids’) b) that their price includes only a kid’s meal or c) that the option of being too tight to even provide them with food is even presented!

I don’t like to judge anyone by their cultural or socio-economic background, but this betrays an appalling attitude towards home-help. No one on the prospective guest-list for this event would have a similar level of domestic assistance ‘back home’. Nor likely, the disposable income. Money certainly doesn’t buy class and some of these types would do well to remember their roots.

(Thanks for the heads-up: @razzap , @tomgara, @gerald_d, @dubaiwriter )

UPDATE: Several hours later, after a terse reality-check by way of email from @razzap (and others?), the organisers, Dubai Reunited, have removed the reference to maids. Presumably their entry fee is now ‘available on request’.

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