To my friend Orin:
This is a response/comment about Johan Hari’s article entitled “The Dark Side of Dubai”.
I have been three times in Dubai. Cumulatively 5 months. Every time I come here I see new buildings and expansions to former ones. I cannot see how Dubai is “slowing down” in the construction business. Now there’s a new metro line, a new tram, a new “palm”. You can see construction been made all over the place.
I really don’t know Dubai’s law about debt, but if somebody swallow razor-blades because of having debt problems I think he has mental problems too. Certainly I wouldn’t kill myself because money problems. My fathers in law (70 years old) have been living in Dubai since 5 years now. They are living the life! My father in law works for a Russian oil company (Lukoil) and he doesn’t even have to pay for his luxury hotel apartment with sea view apartment. He has been promoted two times know and he is making a lot of money. He even pays for his whole family to travel in holidays to be together here. The Filipino service people are super nice with them and even my mother in law befriends them.
Do you know who rebuilt Europe from the ashes of World War II? Immigrants imported from other parts of the world including Islamic countries. Who built Los Angeles city? Mexicans been with low payments and high risk taking. You know who build the stuff we buy from the Chinese factories? They are all slaves. Yes, slavery is pretty common in our present world. It’s not endemic to Dubai.
Yes I have heard about the passport retention thing. It sucks. But it’s not that the Indians had a bullet pointed at their head to do this things. There are about 1 million Indian persons living in Dubai. 50% of Dubai’s population is Indian. Why they are still coming? Why they prefer this construction jobs instead remaining in India? Maybe is because they are better payed here than in India. Maybe is because other reason I don’t know.
Obviously Mr. Hari doesn’t have a clue on the desalinization process of water. I live in Cozumel island and we also get our water from the sea. It’s not as expensive as Mr. Hari states.
The large sums of money flowing through the city are not fake. The futurist buildings are pretty real to me. The metro rail system feels very real. Al the stores in the malls sell real stuff. The delicious food I get from the supermarkets and restaurants taste very real to me. I love Arabian cucumber by the way. Also the inexpensive chicken shawarmas.
Every country has a darkside. Even Australia, a country that I have only heard good things of, should have some type of dark side. Then I think about sub-saharan Africa, well I have never been there.
I think Johan Hari’s view of Dubai is very “glass half-full” and sensationalist. There are true points in his text, but he never gives credit to the good things of Dubai. And there are a lot.
I am no expert in Arab development but I can see and feel some kind of wellbeing in this city. Certainly it’s not a nightmare for the great majority of its people.
I wrote this article while staying in some nice hostels in Asia. Love to travel in the "non-west" part of the world.