With regard to the UAE, Canada is my point of reference for what is different. Therefore, telling you about someplace new also tells you about what is usual or the norm to me.
One of the things that I found myself watching in the UAE were some of the social hierarchies. I use the term watching deliberately: we were in the UAE as tourists for only 2 weeks. I did not learn enough about why things were the way they were, therefore I was watching with uninformed Canadian eyes.
I was intrigued by the proportions of kinds of people in the UAE: the Emiratis were about 10-20% of the population, the Western ex-patriots were about 5-10% of the population, and the East Indians and Pakistanis were about 65-75% of the population. Kinds of jobs were correlated to kinds of people: loosely generalized, the Emiratis did not work, the Western ex-patriots worked in professional positions (as teachers, nurses, etc.), and the East Indians and Pakistinis worked the low-paying labour jobs. Status symbols were correlated to kinds of people too: for example, only the Emiratis were allowed dark-tinted car windows, and only royalty and the extremely rich Emiratis were allowed low numbered licence plates.
I found myself wondering what it would feel like to wear the shayla, abaya, and burqa. The wondering was uncontexualized because a non-Muslim, Canadian tourist (me!) would not wear these items of clothing. Nevertheless, I wondered what it would physically feel like to wear them,
how I would be reacted to, what the dynamic would be because I am not white, and what the dynamic would be if I were not with gM.
Social hierarchies obviously exist in Canada; such hierarchies are the usual for me. The hierarchies I described here are not in Canada in this way, therefore are different to me.