Differences across the Arab world and what lies behind them; plus buying a used car.
Ask Ali: Arab variety and buying a used car
Dear Ali: I'm moving to the UAE soon and have been hearing that Arabs are different in every country and that the Arab countries as a whole are different from each other. How is that so? BO, Canada
Dear BO: You heard correctly. The Arab world stretches from North Africa to Asia. So naturally, we are different. The Arab world is sometimes referred to as the Middle East or the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.
Arab countries are diverse, ethnically and religiously. Twenty-two countries make up the Arab world: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, North Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen.
The GCC, which is the Gulf Cooperation Council, consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Some people might also consider Yemen and Iraq part of the GCC, in part because these two countries have participated in the football Gulf Cup for many years now.
Although numbers vary, the Arabian Peninsula holds nearly 60 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves, with Saudi Arabia possessing the world's largest oil reserves. The two issues of religion and oil are probably the main reason for such conflict in the region, along with territorial disputes, no doubt.
Religion plays a big role in the Arab world, and its politics vary. In Lebanon, for instance, the parliament is apportioned based on religious affiliation, And in Jordan, the king bases his legitimacy on direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), yet he is not a religious leader.
Arabs don't agree on everything, but the main areas of contention are borders; the relationship with Israel (many Arabs dislike or don't trust Israel); rivalry among some countries; the oil factor, with some countries being very rich and others relatively poor; and the conflict between Sunni and Shia factions, sometimes leading to civil strife.
The UAE stays relatively neutral with regard to politics, perhaps fearing that swaying one way or another would involve it in conflicts. The West looks at the UAE as a role model for the Middle East, on how success can be generated from within.
Dear Ali: I'd like to buy a pre-owned car. How shall I go about it? GK, Abu Dhabi
Dear GK: Cars are a great love here and so you will find a great variety of good preowned choices. Selection is almost unlimited, and your preferences and budget determine your decision. You might find an SUV starting from as low as Dh20,000.
To get an overview, I would suggest you browse a bit on the online car souq at uae.motors.souq.com.
If you're buying from a friend, always ask to take the car for a test drive, just as you would with a new car. Make sure you find out how the car has been maintained by the owner and, if possible, ask for a record of his car maintenance. That will normally signal how the car has been taken care of.
The Al Owair area of Dubai is known for having some of the biggest car showrooms and auctions. In Abu Dhabi, I suggest you visit the car exhibition area on Airport Road.
You could also try www.dubizzle.com as many expats use it to display their cars for sale before leaving the country. You might find good cars at good prices.
When looking to buy a used car, ask: "Men wain ashteree sayara mustaamala?" That means: "Where do I buy a used car"?