Unfortunately we know all too well here what’s going on … and the rumor mill is running hot among the expat community.

While we learn more from CNN than from local papers about what has been happening about the financial problems, everyone knows of people who have fled Dubai, leaving cars at the airport, unpaid loans and big debts … That’s all too true and the sea of cars in the past six months at the airport is not new news here.

Those fleeing are mostly with the construction and finance industries.

The two Australian men (associated with Sunland, the Queensland property developer) were held in jail here without charges for past six months and recently released. Their passports and wives’ passports are being held.

Things are changing in Dubai and seem to be becoming more conservative.

From a small insignificant level … more and more Dubai non-state schools are starting to teach Arabic each week and the national anthem is sung every day at many schools schools, even very British-oriented international schools.

Boys sit at the front of the bus and girls at the back on excursions at many Dubai non-state schools, again even at some of the British international schools.

Some parents feel there’s a slow move to take all the schools, including the independent schools catering for foreign nationals, under Dubai government control.

Among the expatriates, the gossip mill grinds on with reports that Abu Dhabi is putting the pressure on Dubai to become more conservative as it helps bail it out.

Abu Dhabi is much more conservative with dress code. Things are changing and it’s set to become more so.

In the international schools Arabic is not part of the curriculum for young kids (preschoolers) apart from greeting words.

But go up a grade or two and more and more kids are being taught Arabic for 40 minutes, three times a week. But at different times of the day, morning some days, afternoons others.

Dubai kids have to go to Arabic lessons, non-Dubai Arabs, to Islamic studies, as do non-Arab Muslims. At some schools, Western kids are being taught Arabic.

The kids here start at 7.30am and finish at 2.15pm. French has been cut back to 20 minutes a week due to the introduction of more Arabic/Arab studies into the curriculum.

Most children also do Islamic studies, but it’s not compulsory for non-Muslim kids.

Kids sing the national anthem in Arabic but not every morning at some schools, but that seems to be changing.

At some of the British schools they have sung it every morning since the KDHA (The Dubai School Inspections Bureau) inspections a month or so ago.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey