There is a strong control of SM in the UAE…you are not allowed to make audio or video calls as they’re blocked. The only way around it is to use VPN. I can imagine the noise such would generate in Nigeria.

In one’s lifetime, there’s a need to broaden one’s outlook. Being an expert on events based on what one reads or hears from others is never a good substitute for experiencing the world. The world is so diverse that no one country is same with the other. Just as their geographical expressions are different so are their cultures, economy and social structure. Indeed, traveling is a sure way to know a country at close contact beyond the media frenzy that hit our TV screens. My 6days trip to Dubai was such a great opportunity to know the United Arab Emirates nay Dubai beyond the media scoop and marketing. I have travelled a bit in Europe and North America, never have I set foot in the Middle East.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the United Arab Emirates is a country that provides a lot of lessons in creativity, vision, planning, leadership, management and above all continuity. From the airport on arrival, you begin to see a country that works, a country where every citizen and foreigners know their duties and responsibilities without being monitored. The seamless passage through Immigration is a testament to organization and discipline, there was no one asking you “anything for us”! There was no one offering you a cart for your luggages at a price. You don’t have people loitering around aimlessly. It is a very clean and welcoming environment that gives you the feeling that the country has a lot to offer you which may not be so depending on where you are coming from. One shocking notice reads “no pictures allowed in the airport”.

Having the opportunity to drive from the Dubai airport to Ras Al Khaimah afforded me the opportunity to see the United Arab Emirates beyond the glitters of Dubai. For clarity, Dubai is just one of the emirates/states in the UAE. The distance from the airport to my Hilton Beach Resort Hotel is a distance of 125km, like going to Ibadan from Lagos. One thing you can’t water down in the UAE is the road networks and the street lights illuminating the roads at night like you see in the western world.

Driving at night posed no fear. United Arab Emirates is vastly a desert, not suitable for agriculture yet they have everything. Getting to the Resort, you see mostly foreigners working and vacationing…..more of Indians. I met a couple of wonderful Nigerians at the Resort, Nedu works in the restaurant and he dedicated himself to seeing that we had a wonderful stay…..there was no issue of Igbo/Yoruba controversy, he was such a wonderful young man. I also met another good Nigerian from Warri who took care of us whenever we had to go to Dubai from Ras Al Khaimah, he gave us all the tricks to paying less on transportation which is very exorbitant, there was this Ghanaian, Wahab whom I initially took to be a Nigerian, he was the one who told his colleagues that some Nigerians were around. Maybe I need to let you know that we were the only set of Black people at the Resort all through our 1week stay. Need I say that United Arab Emirates has one of the poorest transportation system I have ever come across as a traveler (as a traveller before you start comparing Nigeria).

For someone who sees a lot of Dubai most especially on cable TV, one would be tempted to assume that Dubai meant United Arab Emirates. What you see and love in and about Dubai are not available in most of the other states except maybe in Abu Dhabi but not close, hence, why Dubai is more known than the country itself. Inspite of the wealth of the country as a whole, you don’t see people throwing their weights around like my naija folks back home do once they have small change. One thing stood out, UAE is in need of population and economic diversity beyond what Dubai throws at you. To show how strong the vision of the country is, the sea was diverted to flow across the whole of the country despite the fact that the country is completely a desert. With that, they opened their economy to the world. Anywhere you see open water, it’s man made.

The vast majority of the constructions going on are being handled by the West, ICT is phenomenon and at a huge cost too. For the purpose of information, Dubai only started evolving to what it is today in the 90s. Your visit to UAE is incomplete without the Desert Drive. Hmm, as fun as the drive was, it’s a very dangerous and risky adventure. We were entertained by their dancers after our Desert activities with food and drinks in the night….so colorful. The Desert Drivers are from a different world…..the average Arab seems to have no worries about life. I kept on asking myself, should the desert SUV roll over, will my life insurer pay anything to my family? One thing I did before going was buying a travel insurance that covered my activities and life while in the UAE….I can’t die from my adventure and leave my family empty.

I must salute the Nigerian spirit I saw in the UAE. The spirit of oneness was very strong and encouraging compared to the vileness and hatred we encounter on SM. To those who think SM is the real world, I am sorry to tell you that you are fools. The desire to help each was etched all over the few Nigerians I met from the Resort to the Gold Souk, it was amazing. Benjamin approached us at the market when he heard us speaking “ngbati ngbati”, he’s from Anambra but speaks fluent Yoruba, he became our shopping guide for the 3days we visited the market…..we ate together throughout. Forget the nonsense on SM, Nigerians outside of the country know how much we need each other.

As you know, I am a foodie. Thank God for technology, roaming my phone was at a great cost but a solution provider. Upon arrival at the Dubai airport, the Immigration officer would hand you a complementary Du sim card, that’s how they quickly want you to settle in and spend money. I found an eatery selling African food located inside The H Dubai Hotel called Enish. Walahi, you would love to eat there and keep going back. I ate Amala and Egusi with stockfish others ate Amala, Ewedu and Gbegiri with fresh fish, Pounded Yam and Eforiro with Assorted Meat. Enish is both an eatery and a Nite Club. The workers cut across many African countries but majorly Nigerians, the service and courtesy was top notch. I want service providers to visit Enish and copy their service template. I learnt they started from the UK, later got to know that the sister of the owner is a friend to my wife. Ehen, you remember the pictures of me eating Amala abi, that was inside the market. The place is owned by a Nigerian woman. You would feel very much at home. One thing I noticed was that all their hotels are well maintained not minding the grade.

The Dubai 2020 Expo has been on from October 2021 and will end in March 2022. I was hoping to see products from different manufacturers on display but all I saw were countries showcasing their culture. The Expo ground would pass for a mini city with airport – like security in place. The security was super tight with Robots serving as complementary security parading the Expo and reminding people of the need to wear their masks. All through my visit, I didn’t see any stall belonging to Nigeria just as I didn’t see any other African countries. I want to assume that they are there somewhat maybe not so visible.

The awoof loving me was hoping that the likes of Huawei would be on ground giving out mobile devices cos they have a strong presence in UAE. Lest I forget, Etisalat is from UAE right? Telecoms in the UAE is a big rip off. The average weekly phone top up is 300 AED which comes to 1200 AED in a month meaning 326 USD in a month. The average rent cost in Dubai is 5000 AED while the average income is 6000 AED. This is the key reason why people share accommodation. But in my country we all want to flaunt what we can’t afford. Even in the western world, sharing of accommodations are very common, otherwise, you can’t survive. My trip to the UAE afforded me the opportunity to juxtapose economies and leadership. Despite the wealth of UAE, things are very expensive…..this is expected simply because it is NOT a manufacturing economy rather it’s an import based economy. Any economy that’s import based should not expect to live cheaply.

Final analysis.The airport warning of not taking pictures in the airport is well respected and no one tried to go against it. Let’s reverse that to be Nigeria, you will hear “it’s against human rights”. Human Rights come second to national security. Nigerians in the UAE are well behaved cos they know that they’re no avenues to call an influential friend or uncle to rescue them. Despite their lack of employment, they have not resorted to crimes as an excuse. Crime is not an excuse for poverty. There is a strong control of SM in the UAE…you are not allowed to make audio or video calls as they’re blocked. The only way around it is to use VPN. I can imagine the noise such noise would generate in Nigeria. Such a situation is an opportunity for miscreants NGOs to get more international funding to destabilize the country.

Mind you, wealthy Middle East countries are not “regulated” by the West cos they’re making billions of dollars there. A great country is a reflection of the vision of its leaders and the readiness of its people to work as one entity with the govt. Like we all know, govt comes and goes but the ordinary people will be the ones to feel the impact of the govt balanced against the activities of the citizens towards nation building. The advent of Oil that’s supposed to be a blessing is actually a curse on Nigeria. For so long, our leaders focused on Oil income thereby neglecting other sectors. UAE has realized that Oil is not going to be around forever, hence, diversifying the economy with oil proceeds. Oil proceeds amounting to about $500b over decades have been diverted by different gov’t in Nigeria at all levels. The development oil was meant to fund is funding private pockets.

I laugh when people lampoon the formal government forgetting that we all constitute governance. Do you care to know how your level 12 civil servant father is funding your education abroad and how he came about buying many cars and owning many houses? The evil besetting us lives in you and I. A people with no national value system is a country for the trash can. Nigerians are wandering all over the streets of Dubai but can’t come home out of shame. Our shame as a nation is epic. To have a national rebirth, we need social re-orientation and reforms. I believe as a country we can still get it right if we put divisive actions aside and focus on the real issues. Leadership is inherent in each and every one of us but how do we play it? Ask yourself, what you have contributed to the growth of your country and what you think you should be contributing.

God bless Nigeria!!!

Bayo Adedosu

You can follow Bayo Adedosu on his twitter handle @BayoAdedosu

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