Tag Archives: Diversity

Dubai

The first time I visited Dubai was back in 2011. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I was impressed by two things.

The first is how diverse the city is. Dubai is home to not only local Emiratis but also large groups of people from other Middle Eastern countries, Southeast Asia, Africa, the Far East, Europe, and North America. And these aren’t just tourists. Most live in Dubai.

In fact, with 83% of its residents born outside of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is the world’s most international city. During a period of time when many societies across the world are becoming increasingly polarized and isolated, Dubai remains a testament to the ability of diverse humans to live and work together in harmony.

The second thing which struck me is how majestic everything is. From the airport to the highways to the malls to the towers, everything in Dubai is imposingly beautiful.

As I traveled from Dubai to Istanbul yesterday, I realized that neither of these facts have changed. As evidence of the latter fact, here’s a picture of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in Dubai.

Learning a new language

Yesterday evening, I was browsing YouTube when I came across some popular songs from my childhood. I spent my childhood in Belgium. Belgium’s three official languages are French, Dutch, and German.

I remember how I pushed back against my parents as they tried to convince me of the importance of taking advantage of living in another country by learning its languages. If it was up to them, I would probably speak all three languages today. Instead, I only speak one. French.

As I listened to these songs in French yesterday evening, I realized that the only reason why they’re meaningful to me is because I understand what’s being said. And if my parents hadn’t pushed me to learn French, this wouldn’t be the case.

If only I had also learned Dutch and German, I would be able to enjoy the great songs in these languages as well.

And the joys resulting from learning a new language aren’t limited to just music. A new language gives you access to all the unique content, ideas, and perspectives that the countries and cultures which speak that language have to offer.

And from these perspectives comes not just a tolerance, but a deep appreciation for diversity. Once you realize that the perspective through which you see the world is strongly influenced by the arbitrary countries, cultures, and languages that you were born and raised in, different perspectives that were once inexplainable to you suddenly become understandable.

In other words, learning a new language is about much more than learning a language.

In case you’re wondering which songs I was listening to, the first one was “Tombe pour elle” (“Fell for her” in French) by Pascal Obispo. I’m sharing the song below. The other songs came from following YouTube’s recommendations at the end of this song.