Dubai(ous)

Apologies for the terrible pun thing. I am planning on getting a lot of mileage out of it.

Anywhoo, tomorrow I’m off to Dubai for the weekend, to attend a course on behaviour management. Should be a hoot. There’ll be tales to tell I’m sure. With pictures even.

Dubai has a kind of mystique these days, a tiny, fabulously rich desert kingdom where which is reinventing itself as a cross between Michael Jackson’s Neverland and the world’s largest shopping mall. Those are supposed to be analogies but actually it already has the latter, and it may be going the way of the former.

When I tell people I live in Bahrain, Dubai is often the nearest touchstone.

“Don’t they have like a 3rd of all the cranes in the world there?” Probably

“I heard you can ski in one of the malls” Yep

“Aren’t the building [insert as appropriate] an airconditioned beach/a series of islands that look like a world map/the world’s biggest phallic symbol/a theme park twice the size of Disney World (Dubai Land) etc” Most Certainly. And more besides.

All of this in a country that has practically no natural resources (oil accounts for a mere 6% of GDP and isn’t expected to last more than 20 more years), where the native population is out numbered 20 to 1 by foreign workers, and where not even 30 years ago you would’ve been hard pressed to find a paved road and the tallest constructions were minarets.

How could a place like this possibly exist?

Only briefly, unsustainably and perhaps soon catastropically failurely.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but it turns out that other people have done a much better job than I, so I will turn you over to them:

This guy sums it up pretty well:

Short of opening a Radio Shack in an Amish town, Dubai is the world’s worst business idea, and there isn’t even any oil. Imagine proposing to build Vegas in a place where sex and drugs and rock and roll are an anathema. This is effectively the proposition that created Dubai – it was a stupid idea before the crash, and now it is dangerous.[smashingtelly.com]

The New York times wrote a piece about the mass exodus of expat workers

And the inimitable Johann Hari followed up with some of that  Olde Time Investigative Journalisme.

With this guy providing some valid counterpoints to what’s in danger of becoming fashionable “Dubai Bashing” and Hari’s somewhat hyperbolic style.

So go forth, educate thyself.

All this stuff does make me appreciate that, despite suffering from many of the same foibles as Dubai (wholesale environmental destruction, exploitation of 3rd world labour, restrictions on speech and where I can get a beer) Bahrain at least has a vision for the future that amounts to more than “we’re gonna have the biggest shit”. There is a genuine desire and drive towards weening the country off the rapidly drying oil teat and bringing home the realisation that they won’t always be able to throw money at nameless filipino or sub-continental folks to do all the jobs they don’t like doing. The country has a self-improvement plan on the books, but it remains to be seen whether it will be able to deliver on it.

Bleh.

I didn’t proof read this. Its 11.30pm and I haven’t packed yet.

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