I just read a really (really!) long story in The Independent about Dubai. With Zimbabweans prone to migrating to “anywhere but here”, I was quite intrigued when recently contacted by an old flame who now lives in that Arab city-state of never-ending construction.
Well, the Johann Hari chap tells an interesting story, one that should shock any right-thinking, big-spending, hard-drinking, low-saving funsters from even contemplating moving to the gulf.
Apparently, Dubai’s pretty on the outside, but according to one Filipino worker, “… everything in Dubai is fake. Everything you see. The trees are fake, the workers’ contracts are fake, the islands are fake, the smiles are fake – even the water is fake!”
The writer starts his tale with the story of Karen Andrews, who lives in a Range Rover after her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour and, eventually, things kinda went down-hill.
Daniel was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment at a trial he couldn’t understand. It was in Arabic, and there was no translation. “Now I’m here illegally, too,” Karen says I’ve got no money, nothing. I have to last nine months until he’s out, somehow.” Looking away, almost paralysed with embarrassment, she asks if I could buy her a meal.
She is not alone. All over the city, there are maxed-out expats sleeping secretly in the sand-dunes or the airport or in their cars.
“The thing you have to understand about Dubai is – nothing is what it seems,” Karen says at last. “Nothing. This isn’t a city, it’s a con-job. They lure you in telling you it’s one thing – a modern kind of place – but beneath the surface it’s a medieval dictatorship.”
Needless to say, I’m not moving there. Besides, I’d probably be caught having hot drunken sex on the beach with the Sheikh’s daughters wearing a turban and eating a pork chop, screaming “Osama, your mama” on my first night there.
No. Thank. You.