Arab Solidarity or Pure Racism? UAE Poet Under Fire for Statements Against Indian and Bengali Workers

Published April 12th, 2020 - 06:35 GMT
Arab Solidarity or Pure Racism? UAE Poet Under Fire for Statements Against Indian and Bengali Workers
Social media commentators were fast to share his statements condemning it as "racist rhetoric" against east Asian nationals. (Facebook)

In a viral video online, a UAE poet and media celebrity, faced a wave of backlash for statements that were perceived as "racist" against Indian and Bengali workers in his country.

Translation: "Arab residents of the UAE have all my respect, but there are Indian and Pakistani doctors and engineers too. He can't seem to stand Asians! This person is sick, unable to speak properly and so racist."

In his short video, Tariq Al-Mehyas addressed Arab expats in the UAE, reassuring them that they are welcome in his country and other Gulf countries, despite the economic and social pressure created by the coronavirus crisis.

He highlighted a prior controversy, in which a well-known Kuwaiti actress's remarks targeted expats in general and asked for them to be deported, so as not to overwhelm the health system. 

Al-Mehyas, in an attempt to patch things up, said that "Egyptian workers are ones with a high sense of dignity, which makes them irreplaceable. God Forbid that expat doctors and engineers from Sudan or Egypt or other Arab countries be replaced by an Indian or a Bengali."

Translation: "This Tariq Al-Mehyas only represents himself. The UAE people are humble. They're known for tolerance and for loving and respecting everyone. Emiratis welcome everyone and condemn racism and hatred."

Social media commentators were quick to share his statements condemning them as "racist rhetoric" against east Asian nationals, calling on him and other citizens to stop offending residents regardless of where they come from or for what they do.

Translation: "Tariq Al-Mehyas is a lying hypocrite. How many teachers, engineers, doctors and other workers at oil companies have been laid off and deported? You've always been in favor of Asians over Arabs to the extent that most of Emiratis' wives are from either India, Pakistan or the Philippines."

Some Twitter users added that Indians and Bengalis are just as equal to any other nationalities and that they too have doctors and engineers in the UAE.

Translation: "Tariq Al-Mehyas only speaks for himself. It's unfortunate that a media figure would downgrade other humans regardless of their nationalities. Indians and Bengalis are the ones who clean our streets despite low-wages. We have to respect and treat them well, not speak ill of them."

Despite the outrage sparked by Al-Mehyas's remarks, some argued that "he intended showing respect to ex-pats, who had felt offended over the last few weeks" and that "he accidentally used the wrong words".

Translation: "Tariq Al-Mehyas is a great person. He's creative, inspiring and always respectful. He just used the wrong words unintentionally."

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