By Haif Zamzam (@haifnothaifa)
On the Thursday that Gaddhafi was killed, I left the office late but just in time to meet my friends for dinner. We spoke about various topics including how successful that evening’s trunk show was, to reminiscing on our pasts. The one topic that struck a chord with me was how the media somewhat molds our reality. I thought about how powerful the media was and related it to the global economic situation that we are faced with today.
To me, it is very unclear whether the average Emirati is starting to see how messed up the economy really is. Although there are some really promising signs that people are starting to wake up and notice the alerts, there are other things that make me think we still have our heads very deep in the sands. There is no doubt that the UAE has been blessed with a comfortable lifestyle for nationals and non-nationals. However, I am afraid we are taking it for granted and “making it rain” so that we can keep up with the Joneses.
Just a few note-worthy observations:
Fashion-obsessed society – the UAE is a nest bed for addicts who need their constant luxury fix (which is probably why the luxury-focused trunk shows probably do so well here). We are able to maintain a very high-level of couture to feed our addicted souls, while the rest of the world is in turmoil and somewhat coming to their senses that 2008 was a drizzle compared to the storm that some experts are forecasting will shake us up in 2012. Maybe we (including myself) need to slow down our spending on luxury items and utilize what is already in our closets?
Valet – I remember the days that valet was a convenience rather than another indicator of how much money we are willing to throw out. Give me a second to pick on The Dubai Mall. AED 50 – AED 100 to valet park your car? Even after you cough up that money, you are going to be waiting for what seems like hours to get your car. How is that convenient?
Weddings – need I elaborate? In case I do, I would just like to ask why anyone would want to celebrate a very personal occasion with nearly 1,000 people of which they know 10% of; and with hotels charging approximately 180 AED per person, we are at 180,000 AED for the ballroom and food alone without all the other costs.
Then again, there are some bright spots.
- More and more people are budgeting their hard earned cash so that they are able to sustain a certain standard of living
- People are looking for possible fundraising options when starting their own business (vs. solely taking it out of their own pockets)
- People are concerned with the Eurozone crisis and are beginning to ask the right questions about what to do with their capital
The logical question is; why do people think the economy is fine or way better than it really is?
The answer is simple; the dolled up cartoon people on the mainstream news who keep repeating (with heightened enthusiasm and a flashy smile) that everything is ok when it comes to the economy.
If you think the economy is in trouble right now, you are being a realistic, mature adult who has drilled into the story. What now? My advice is simple: cut the fat in terms of your spending (shop less, park your own car and budget your weddings for starters) and try to save your money.
21st Issue – December 2011
Here We Start – Art of Living 101 – Beyond Inspiration – Community Talk – Food For Thought
Interview – Just Another Undergrad – Sense and Sustainability – Society of Tomorrow
The First Years Last Forever – The Mind’s Eye – Too Blunt For Words – Words, Observations, and Ramblings
Haif Zamzam is a bon viveur who just can’t get enough of life. Her inflexibility for the norm coupled with her constant hunt for a challenge pushed her to the private sector where she is a professional in a top-tier consulting firm. Haif has an MBA from INSEAD and a Bachelors degree from the AUS. Through her column, Joie de Vivre, French for “Joy of Living,” Haif hopes to show how living with your head in the clouds is highly underrated.