Tuesday, August 01, 2006

le Rêve

It is French for the Dream, le pronounced as la in lacrosse and Rêve as rev in Rev your engines! In Dubai it is the name of a snazzy new tower. The tower is meant to offer a dream lifestyle, full of luxury and amenities. Dubai itself might be called a city of dreams--one of many accolades it no doubt would like to acquire.

But the dreams of Dubai consist not only of the snazzy kind that involve tall towers and palm-shaped islands. It also includes the humble wishes of ordinary working men and women. Before the towers and all the offerings for the rich and spoilt, Dubai and the UAE were the stuff of dreams, for migrant workers. Their dream was to touch down on the hot desert terrain, work hard for a few years, then return to their homeland bearing gifts for kinsmen and neighbors with enough surplus to build a home. This is still the dream of many such migrants even in the face of decreasing odds.

The Founders' Dreams

The dream of the country's ruling families was to build a state in which their own clansmen would prosper. But such was their fortune that the dream need not have stopped there. It became possible to share the dream with all their countrymen.

Their ideals, however, were misinterpreted and became distorted. The youth of the country began to dream more about fast cars and other luxuries, unlike their parents who were happy to inherit a modest but comfortable home, a farm perhaps and some livestock. Some of the youth today fritter away not only their parents' and country's wealth, but also their own lives. Reckless driving is a leading cause of death for national youth.

Is this not too high a price to pay for the realization of a dream? Their great misfortune is that, unlike the migrant worker and other expatriates, they expect their dreams to be fulfilled without the price of hard work and determination.

Evolution of the Dream

One must recognize that the UAE presents a rapidly changing landscape, both literally and metaphorically. The notion of le rêve is as valid today as it was in the early days. Whether expatriate or national, there is the emergence of a common dream to enjoy a more prosperous and fulfilling lifestyle within the country. Some, of course, will always be ready to sacrifice and take what they earn back to their land of origin. But more and more are preparing to not only pursue their dreams in the UAE but live them here as well.

The towers are clear symbols of the nation's dreams and aspirations. Some will complain that such aspirations are too materialistic and superficial. That may be so. But such images inspire and stimulate the imagination. Even for those who wish to enjoy the fruits of their labor elsewhere, the UAE offers if not the chance, then at least the inspiration to continue to dream.

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