So, are you a fellow Gulf Kid? someone born and raised in the Middle East or GCC countries? You’re probably a second or third-generation expat in the Middle East and have spent your whole life in the Gulf, whether in Dubai or Manama; welcome to the club!
Being a Gulf Kid can be a struggle since most Gulf Kids consider the country they live in as a home, but they are not citizens. Here are the top things Gulf Kids commonly hear from people they just met abroad or in their home country.
- 1. Oh wow, you’re born and raised here?
- 2. Why are you not fluent in Arabic or other languages?
- 3. Do you always listen to Arabic or Indian music?
- 4. Have you seen or ridden a camel?
- 5. What’s the desert like, or have you gone desert safari?
- 6. Isn’t it strict over there?
- 7. What’s your visa status?
- 8. Are you half-Arab or a citizen?
- 9. You’re an expat, you’ll leave the country in the future
- 10. Is everyone in Dubai rich?
- 11. Questions about travel or food recommendations in the city
1. Oh wow, you’re born and raised here?
One of the common phrases you’ll hear from people abroad when you’re born and raised in a GCC country is surprise or curiosity getting the best of them. Studying abroad is never cheap therefore being born and raised in the Middle East is a privilege and an advantage. If you’re entering the workforce, you can use it to your advantage since you’re already familiar with the culture, tradition, and places, unlike newcomers. Being born and raised in the GCC can be the best of both worlds since you have a unique and diverse upbringing.
2. Why are you not fluent in Arabic or other languages?
Okay, this is a case-to-case basis; not every Gulf Kid doesn’t know how to speak Arabic, but others are fluent or know the basic Arabic language. Since growing up, schools or universities’ curriculums in the Middle East have had a mandatory or required subject for Arabic. It will be hard to pass your grade level if you’re not keen on studying the Arabic language.
If you’re living in Dubai or any city in the GCC, you can thrive by being fluent in English since it’s still one of the main languages spoken in the region. So, it’s never too late if you’re keen to polish your Arabic skills. If you’re born and raised abroad, one of the common misconceptions is that you can’t speak your mother tongue; in the Middle East, there are vast communities of Asians, Western, Arabic, and more; therefore, you still have a connection from your home away from home.
3. Do you always listen to Arabic or Indian music?
One of the habits or culturally appropriate things you’ll pick up growing up is listening to foreign music, whether Arabic, Indian, Filipino, and more! Regardless of your nationality, you’ll find it hard to resist not belly dancing or to any Arabic musicians.
You’ll also probably like to watch Arabic movies, and read Middle Eastern books since Arab culture has been ingrained to your upbringing. It’s probably normal for your parents to hear you play Arab music at least once a day.
4. Have you seen or ridden a camel?
This one is for the non-Arab Gulf Kids; one of the common questions you’ll get is whether you have seen or ridden a camel. It might be a funny question, but since people are curious about camel riding and what it is like, you’ll definitely get asked this question a lot!
5. What’s the desert like, or have you gone desert safari?
Of course, the MENA region is known for its vast desert, always seen in movies or documentaries, so it’s normal for people to be curious whether you’ve been to the desert or gone on an adventurous ride of desert safari. It never hurts to enlighten them about your desert camping or safari experience.
6. Isn’t it strict over there?
Middle Eastern countries are known to be strict with their laws, from social media usage to transportation rules. As a Gulf Kid, you’ll be asked about the lifestyle and policies in the Gulf or any Arab country. Educating or enlightening people about misconceptions about the rules implementations is necessary. Since plenty of expats live in the Middle East, policies are essential to maintain order.
7. What’s your visa status?
The visa status is one of the common things you’ll hear even if you’re not a Gulf Kid therefore future employers or people will ask you about your visa status in the country whether you’re sponsored or on an employment visa.
8. Are you half-Arab or a citizen?
Another question for non-Arab Gulf Kids is they will ask if you’re part Arab or a citizen of the country since you’ve spent most of your life in the city. Unfortunately, there are only special cases as to why a Gulf person is a citizen unlike a residency holder due to employment or a special visa.
9. You’re an expat, you’ll leave the country in the future
This statement has probably been heard by many Gulf Kids born and raised in the Middle East but never citizens. Being a Gulf Kid has its ups and downs, and thinking about whether you want to stay or leave your hometown can be a huge step to take.
10. Is everyone in Dubai rich?
With the reality show Dubai Bling or numerous TikTok videos about lavish lifestyles in Dubai, it can be easy to think that every resident of Dubai is a millionaire or a billionaire. Dubai is home to many opportunities, whether for employment, education, or business. As a Gulf Kid born and raised in Dubai, it can be easy for other people to assume that the city is brimming with rich people, but that’s not the reality since most of the people who live in the GCC are working expats.
11. Questions about travel or food recommendations in the city
Yes, this is one of the best things you’ll get asked about being a Gulf Kid, you’ll be like a designated tour guide for your loved ones when visiting the city, and you’ll be the go-to person for everything about the Gulf or Middle Eastern culture. This is one of the parts of being a Gulf Kid; you’ll also get a lot of questions about whether the food in the Middle East like Shawarma, Kebab, or Hummus, is very delicious and authentic in the Gulf and you’ll be happy to bring them to the best restaurants or cafeterias in town.