x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

More Emiratis are writing blogs

For years, expatriates have shared their lives online with people back home, but now more UAE nationals are exchanging ideas, too.

Victor Lindsay, an American who lives in Abu Dhabi, blogs about interesting places he and his wife have visited in the UAE.
Victor Lindsay, an American who lives in Abu Dhabi, blogs about interesting places he and his wife have visited in the UAE.

ABU DHABI // Blogging in and about the UAE traditionally has been the province of expatriates who wanted to communicate their experiences to friends and family back home.

But now, more Emiratis are joining the blogsophere.

Dr Abeer Najjar, an assistant professor of mass communications at the American University of Sharjah, said blogging helps people outside the UAE learn more about life in the region.

"I see blogging growing in the UAE as the country is emerging and visible in the last few years. In a way, many people are interested to come work here in the UAE and are curious about the quality of life they can get here."

One of many Emirati blogs is The Daily Dubai, anonymously written by "Proud Emirati". He writes about UAE events in general, and Dubai in particular.

"While there is a rise in the number of blogs," he said, "it is still in the early stage and most of the Arabic-speaking blogs are more of entertainment blogs with interesting topics from all over the world. English blogs, on the other hand, are more mature; however, they general target a certain audience.

"I've been a member of a forum for the past 10 years where I developed good writing skills. So I thought that if I can express my ideas there, why can't I have something on my own?"

"Proud Emirati" said he believes people in the UAE usually blog for two main reasons: one is being able to express ideas and opinions anonymously, and the other is to interact with different nationalities and cultures.

Dr Najjar said, "Bloggers have various motivations, from self-expression and life-documentation, to practicing freedom of speech and informing readers and unexpected audiences on events, sharing opinions."

She added that blogging helps people who might not meet in real life to meet virtually and exchange ideas and experiences about time, place or events.

Expatriates, in particular, have a fondness for blogging. It helps them deal with living in the region, and gives the online world a clearer view of the UAE from an expatriate's perspective.

Grace Fujimaki, a marketing specialist who moved here from Japan, has a blog called Sandier Pastures. Mrs Fujimaki talks about her life as a mother and an expatriate in Dubai, tackling subjects like what is new and hip in Dubai.

"I started blogging right after we relocated to the UAE in January 2007. I thought it would be a nice and great way to let my family and friends back home know what we're up to in Dubai."

Blogging has helped her become more alert to what is going on around her and connect with people in the UAE.

"I am always on the lookout for things and experiences to write about and Dubai provides a lot," she said. "Contrary to the situation in other countries in the Middle East, UAE bloggers have more freedom, so I think a lot of new bloggers will emerge, as people around the world are getting more and more interested about Dubai and the UAE in general."

Victor Lindsay started his blog, Sight Unseen, to help readers get familiar in advance of their arrival in the UAE.

"A lot of people who move to Abu Dhabi probably get to see the city before they commit to living here, and we didn't get to do that," said Mr Lindsay, an American who works in the global education department at NYU Abu Dhabi.

"All we knew about Abu Dhabi is what we read in a guide book, so it was exciting and scary, and that's how the idea of the name of the blog came out", said Mr Lindsay, who blogs about his and his wife's experiences in Abu Dhabi.

"When we first moved here, my wife was the one that was working and I was unemployed, so I had the time to wander around and take pictures and write about things," he said. "And now that I'm working full-time as well, I don't have time quite as much to do that as I'd like to, but I'm actually trying to catch up."

newsdesk@thenational.ae