Thursday, February 5, 2009

Where am I from, Mummy???

Kids born in Dubai don't get a nationality only the Emirati or locals do. The nationality on their passport is the same as their parents. If both the parents are from different countries then I suppose the child would carry the fathers' country of origin. And what if even the parents were born in the UAE, what then? They'd end up borrowing their parents' nationality who in turned had borrowed their parents'. Wow!!!

The funny thing is that in UAE, the locals constitute only approximately 20%, the rest of the population is a mixed bag of Asians, Arab expats and others. Every day brings more people from all over the world to Dubai as they prepare to settle down with their families, or start ones, a lot of children are born here [the waters of Dubai seem to be very fertile, every fifth person you see is pregnant or carrying strollers]

So what should these kids do? They have to accept their parents nationality, but what if they don't have any associations or bonds with that country? They aren't born there, didn't go to school there, played in the parks there, they haven't made their friends there, had their fights, yet their passport says they belong to that country.

This got me thinking about what makes a person belong to a country? Especially in the case of the country not accepting the fact that the person was born there and for all intents and purposes its their only true home?

When I had this conversation with an acquaintance they gave their own explanation, 'whichever country your forefathers have migrated too, and adopted as their own, should determine your nationality'

But then where do you decide to stop and choose, your great grandfather's country or his fathers'?.

Would such kids be different when they grow up? Especially if they are of a questioning nature or will they just adopt their parents nationality, the one given on their passport even though they weren't born there and in some cases have just been there on holidays? Is it even fair to expect them to accept that country as their own if they haven't grown up there. Most of them just end up convincing themselves that indeed they are from where their parents are.

But nationality and culture are two different things you might be an Asian because of ethnicity but nationality?

Does having roots only depend on what your passport says or growing up in a place is what determines nationality????


Jean-Luc Picard said...

That's a fact I didn't know regarding children born in the Emirates.

Mark said...

Interesting questions. Does nationality matter or is it culture that has the biggest impact on a person. I would say it is culture and that in the end a person, once an adult could petition to change their nationality/citizenship if they so desire.

Loz said...

I think deep down it is about owning a sense of place. I will always be Australian though my ancestry is a mix of Irish, Scot and English and if I go back far enough Norman, Saxon and Roman. But I grew up with the smell of eucalyptus and that is the smell of home.

Joseph said...

1st - congrats on the baby girl!

2nd - I think that when you turn 16, you get your drivers license, and then you go down to the government agency that determines citizenship, and right there, you declare your citizenship, of which ever country you want. Of course, at 16, I would have said, "Chechnya" and that really would have worked out poorly.

Bobby said...

Wow...that's interesting. Like most Americans, I am a mixed breed; French, Welsh and American Indian. My nationality is "American" on paper but I'm just a human from Earth like everyone else:)

Greg said...

In a way, this has the potential to deny any nationality to certain children because a given country can only deny granting their own nationality to a person, but cannot actually dictate if a person is of another nationality. You would have to look into the laws of the given country. For example if a Japanese couple had a child there, we'd have to look into Japanese law to see if the kid would be granted Japanese citizenship. There's probably some country somewhere who wouldn't allow a child born on foreign soil to claim citizenship, so that would leave some people without a real country. That's kind of cool.

Mona said...


I absolutely love your blog! Do continue writing!


meleah rebeccah said...

Whooooo Hooooooo! You are back! Im so excited!

Now as for your question:

"Does having roots only depend on what your passport says or growing up in a place is what determines nationality????"

I say its more growing up in a place is what determines nationality!

Anonymous said...

Thank god that you are alive!

Random Magus said...

Jean-Luc Picard:
Unfortunately that's the situation here. Really crazy

But people always confuse the two. I think I was guilty of that myself, you immediately expect someone to identify themselves as their parents origins. There is always a tug between the two and you feel you must choose.
Here in the Emirates they don't give nationality.

Aleyna might think of Dubai as her home but the country will never except her as an Emirati.

They don't allow that here.

:-) I hope to teach her that she's a citizen of the world as well.

That would be so curious and so cool actually. Hadn't thought of that

Mona: Thank you :-)

meleah rebeccah:
:-) I certainly took my time
I think so too but babies born here can't think of this place as home in that sense because this place refuses to accept them.

James Michael:
...and kicking

Anonymous said...

That's unfortunate. Makes me wonder if bringing up kids in a country that won't have them (as their own) is a good idea...

Random Magus said...

Shantanu: Sometimes there are no easy choices