Contrary to popular belief, not all Emiratis are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. At least, that was what a Ras Al Khaimah father-of-nine was trying to tell an Ajman radio host before being slammed for being ungrateful.
Ali Al Mazrouei was an ex-driver for the Ministry of Environment but had to resign due to high blood pressure and diabetes. Once he was out of a job he started taking a pension from the government – AED13,000, to be exact. For the 56-year-old man with nine kids, ranging in age from 10 to 35 years old, the money just wasn't cutting it.
He called a popular radio show in Ajman called Al Rabia Wal Nas, the program's purpose being to listen to people's problems and help solve them. But it seems his complaints of high inflation rates and the rising cost of living was offensive to one of the co-hosts, Yaqoub Al Awadhi.
Al Awadhi kept interrupting the caller, and told him at one point that some people used to live on as little as AED7,000 from the government without complaining, and eluded to the idea that perhaps Al Mazrouei wasn't managing his money well, according to The National.
Al Mazrouei responded by saying that with nine kids, he has to pay for tuition fees and that the money quickly evaporates with a family as large as his. He also said that he had never traveled outside of the UAE and all their money went on their basic needs.
The co-host took it the wrong way, and said to Al Mazrouei that he won't allow him to "defame" the UAE by saying everyone is suffering. He also told Al Mazrouei to hold his tongue.
The heated argument eventually ended on air, but it also went viral. When the rulers of the UAE got wind of this, they acted quickly.
The Crown Prince and the Ruler of Ajman, Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, ordered the co-host to be suspended, while the ruler of Dubai and UAE Vice President, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, ordered authorities to look into and quickly change Al Mazrouei's situation within 24 hours.
Sheikh Mohammed also issued a directive to the Minister of Community Development to provide the Cabinet in their next meeting with detailed reports about the needs and requirements of UAE citizens with low incomes and ways in which to address them.
The anchor has since apologized and told The National: "I did not want his words to downsize the efforts of the country and its leaders in providing for the people," said Mr Al Awadhi.
"I felt upset, and I was upset when he said half of the Emirati people, as in 500,000 locals, are living poorly … this is an insult."