Thanks everyone who left kind messages about the passing of my beloved uncle. I entertained myself lately by doing a blog housekeeping – you know, reviewing what’s on my drafts folder, etc and I saw this one I didn’t publish.
This post is inspired by a blog post from blogger Mezba who commented in my discriminated by watchman post. She wrote an amazing article about her recent visit to Dubai that included her first hand experience of racial discrimination right in the airport.
Mezba wasn’t the subject of the discrimination though (she only witnessed).
Then I remembered the time when I was once. I arrived in Dubai in October 1, 2006 from Japan . My present employers had invited me to come over to Dubai, free flight tickets and 3 days hotel accommodation so they can interview me. They wanted to fly me here so I can see the place so when the interview goes well, I’ll have an idea what Dubai is and if it’s ok to live here.
(Honestly, I didn’t think of coming here but the free tickets and free tour won me over. I was like, heck even if I don’t get the job, at least I can say that I’ve been to Dubai!)
After a 16 hour flight (it wasn’t direct – the plane hopped from Nagoya, Japan to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Bangkok, Bangkok to New Delhi and then finally to Dubai) I arrived really tired. I walked to the direction of “Passport Control” (Immigration) because as a Japanese passport holder, I don’t need a visa to enter Dubai as a tourist. There was no need for me to collect a tourist visa, usually deposited at a certain counter inside the airport.
* There’s a Visa Collection Section where hundreds of people are queuing to get their visa copies deposited by their employers, friends or relatives.
A big burly Arab man, an airport personnel of course blocked my way and in big voice said, “Hey, Filipini! (they use the term for people from the Philippines sometimes thinking it’s correct like Iraqi or Irani) GO to the visa section, GO! Not allowed to come up to Passport Control without visa, GO!”
He pointed to the visa control section with his big arms and stern face.
As for me, who has the energy to fight after that long, tiring flight? I took out my red passport and showed it to him, with the “Japan” in front. His expression changed in a matter of milliseconds.
The big burly arms and hands pointing to the Visa Collection Section changed directions to the escalator leading to the Passport Control (Immigration), palms open and welcoming.
“Sorry. This way, Madame. Welcome to Dubai.”
In case you’re curious – I didn’t react at all and just went on my way. I was tired and moreover, I couldn’t really blame the guy for assuming I have a Philippine passport (I look very Filipino). But then, is that right? Would you always and readily assume a dark colored person is from Africa? Or a person with small eyes from China (my husband gets this A LOT)? I didn’t make it a big deal but some people might be really offended. I wish airport personnel would be more professional in this matter but then again, racism and racial discrimination is alive and well here – in the everyday job ads, for example. Sadly, discrimination is a fact of life in Dubai.