Some parts of Dubai remind me of that town in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where there are no children anywhere. Until you go into a mall that is.
I live in Mirdif which is on the outskirts of Dubai and enjoys a peaceful, family-orientated atmosphere with spacious villas and parks (not dog-friendly).
Villas here tend to be very private dwellings, hidden behind high walls or safely tucked within gated communities. Children don’t venture out to play on the streets, partly because of the heat, partly because of parental protection but I suspect mostly because of the lack of pavements and the reckless drivers. Dubai was not built with pedestrians in mind.
In Dubai you’ll never see teenagers doing paper rounds or holding Saturday jobs. To have a job, you need an employment visa and these are not issued to anyone under the age of 21.
I do wonder sometimes how older children learn about money and responsibility. I know schools do offer short work experience placements but these aren’t the same as having a regular responsibility where the child begins to grow into being an adult.
While you’ll get plenty of kids knocking on doors on Trick or Treat night, because so many people have maids and gardeners you’ll never get a kid knocking on doors offering to wash your car or sell you dates that they’ve freshly plucked from the roadside trees.
Hmm… this might not be a bad thing actually… errr…
… if you lived in Thornton Heath back in the day and once brought a paper cup of blackberries for 10p from a little girl knocking on your door, I apologise wholeheartedly that I didn’t fill your cup to the top with blackberries.
In my defence, we did all start that afternoon with good intentions. Our production line in the park was efficient and fast. Although it would have been faster if the productionistas had eased back on consuming the goods. Then one kid had to go home, another went off to ride her bike… until only 2 of us were left.
With our production line scuppered and with us still fixed on becoming millionaires (10p x 200 cups = £20!!!), we put our enterprising heads together and decided that as we’d never pick enough berries for 200 standard sized paper cups (“borrowed” from Mum’s kitchen), we needed to find smaller cups.
My Mum didn’t have smaller cups and neither did the mother of my business partner. So we hit upon the next best thing, arrange pretty autumnal leaves in the cup and set them off with the blackberries. I daresay Mrs Simmonds, our art teacher would have been delighted with how lovely the cups looked.
Shame we didn’t patent that business strategy because in years to come I would find everyone from cereal companies to chocolate companies stealing our Illusionary Packaging idea.
Do you have children in Dubai? How do you transition them into work life?
PS: Crime doesn’t pay. We only sold around 10 cups, dropping most of the rest as we scarpered out of retribution range after each sale. (As pretty as the cups were, we knew people wanted blackberries, not leaves!)
PPS: If you want to pick blackberries in Dubai, you’ll find punnets in Spinney’s all year round… yes even now, in January. After all, this is Dubai – you didn’t really think you’d have to pick them off the bush yourself?