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CYC-Online Issue 53 JUNE 2003 / BACK
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postcard from leon fulcher

Postcard from the United Arab Emirates

A lot of people thought I was mad contemplating a stop-over in Dubai and Abu Dhabi on my way home from the Scottish launch of our new Images of Ourselves CD-ROM. It was a treat working with Dr Michael Foulin through four days of Equalities launch events in Edinburgh, Dundee, Inverness and Glasgow. Michael’s 75-minute dramatic portrayal of 9 teenagers in “You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me” left few dry eyes. There was also enthusiasm for the new Images of Ourselves CD-ROM and how it can be used in Equalities training. It can also provide evidence for SVQ (Scottish Vocational Qualifications) competency standards and Unit Standards in New Zealand.

Kuwaiti Sculpture gifted to Sharjah Social Care Unit Staff

My five-day stay in the United Arab Emirates came within days of the Coalition forces declaring that military activities had ceased. The US State Department Advisory against travelling to the Middle East remained in force. The carefully executed suicide bombings at three accommodation blocks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia fuelled anxiety throughout the region. The tourism and hotel industry of Dubai dropped from 87 percent to below 40 percent during the period leading up to and immediately after the Coalition incursions into Iraq to rescue the people from weapons of mass destruction and political villainy.

Sharjah Centre for Handicapped Children & Zayed University staff

During my UAE stay, it was an honour to visit the Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, a centre for families and children with autism, cerebral palsy, Downe’s Syndrome and other developmental conditions. I accompanied the Dean and other Zayed University, College of Family Sciences staff to a meeting with the Director and her staff about research and teaching partnerships. Named after the Emir of the United Arab Emirates, Zayed University is a new university established little more than four years ago as the first university for women in the Middle East. In a College of Family Sciences, the mandate for child and youth care was immediately apparent.

Young residents at the Sharjah Social Care Unit

A second agency visit to the Sharjah Social Care Unit was also enlightening. I am grateful to the Director and her Deputy “and their staff “for giving such a detailed tour of the facility and explanation of their work carried out with young men who become involved in delinquent activities. Here, young people who become troubled or troublesome in their communities are less influenced by systemic poverty than by economic opportunities. In states pursuing social and economic policies that distribute wealth across the whole of the population, traditional explanations to explain even minimal incidences of delinquency require further scrutiny. Role modelling and the significance of fathering are thought to be especially important.

While in the UAE, my airline reservations were altered by Singapore Airlines as part of their SARS-related 30 percent reduction in flights. That meant I could visit Abu Dhabi for a day, to see the Zayed University campus there in the Capital City of the UAE. Then it was off to Malaysia for a week before getting home to New Zealand. Since our visit to the UAE, Jane and I have accepted a three year contract to join Zayed University as a Professor and Assistant Dean in the College of Family Sciences at the Abu Dhabi campus, starting in August! All change!


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