The Dark Side of Dubai

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.”

Read the whole story here.

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.

17 Replies to “The Dark Side of Dubai”

  1. Fuck me! It is rather long isn’t?

    Vowed a long time ago never to set foot in a country that heavily (and blatantly) relies on religion for mapping its laws and way of life.

  2. It may be long, Tara, but it’s also worth reading. A good read is also the comments on it, including protests from from the other side coming from expats living there.

  3. The thing with the construction workers is so true, every evening around 5 you see them being bussed off home in these tiny little buses. And then on Friday they are ‘allowed’ to go out, but driven to their destination, not permitted entry into any of the malls, sit around for a couple of hours, play some cricket or football, and then 5pm are bussed off to their compounds again. Zvinosiririsa shaa. Having been there, albeit only for 2 weeks, I more or less saw similar things to what he did, bar the whole gay thing. And because I wasn’t there as a tourist in the traditional sense, I got to see far more of Dubai’s dark underbelly than the expats in their swanky air-conditioned 4x4s, offices and homes.

  4. A bit sensational but the basis facts, ie capitalist excess and working class exploitation, is simply capitalism at work.
    The whole western world simply has their “camps” and sweat shop labour in Latin America, Africa and Asia, conveniently an ocean away…

  5. Yeah well, sometimes it takes a little sensationalism to jar people out of their reverie. We’ve all heard/read about sweat-shops in the far east and all, but you rarely hear a whine about Dubai.

    Mos Native, you seem to have a rather anti-capitalist tack – what are the options?

  6. its always interesting when people comment on capitalism. If you have never read The wealth of nations by A Smith or socialism, capitalism and democracy by J Schumpeter or at the very least any literature by Von Mises then whatever comments you are making about capitalism are through hearsay, or should i say Makuhwa.

  7. My politics and economics is currently Socialist. Contrary to popular belief the capitalist western world are also the biggest socilists – they just limit the socialism within their borders and practise capitalism against the third world – think farming subsidies, social welfare, health insurance, and the “stimulus packages” and “bailout this”, “rescue package that”….

    One of my biggest influences towards solcialism was this article by Einstein….

  8. Just sent you the post via the “contact us” thingamibob…

    Thought u were going all Jonathan Moyo on my free speech!

  9. @Beezy – dont worry, the gremlins have decided to show my post…

    @ a-c mantra – champion boxers do not get into the ring and shout, “I can fight, I train hard!”. They just go in the ring and do their shit.

    Im not impressed by the number of books one has read – rather by their level of understanding, interpretation and then application of a work.

    I am very open to persuasion in any field, from art to politics and everything in between.
    How about you post something that shows you have something to add to my/our understanding and if you post something sensible, and someone is impressed enough to ask what you read for such enlightenment, then you can swell up and shine…

  10. A-CM, it interests and worries me when people take books as dogmatically as you indicate. In fact, it also scares the crap out of me. Reminds me of the Bible (and other holy books of course). Eish *Shivering – Brrrrr!*

  11. A-CM?????

    Still waiting for enlightenment. Interesting opinion based on logical application of basic principles preferred over click-copy-paste from the library. 🙂

  12. It appears A-CM needs a bit more time to respond.

    Anyway, Mos Native, here is an alternative view

    Capitalism promotes competition/ efficiency/ encourages innovation which all lead to increased production. Which explains why the Capitalist countries are the wealthiest.

    So what wrong with socialism. After all it only intends to provide for all members of society. But this mean a handful of pple (mostly unqualified in practice) make the decision about what the state needs etc profitable or unprofitable. So you only get what they want you to get. Ultimately the State spends too many resources on the wrong goods and services. No freedom of choice. Plus most workers require financial incentives to work harder and socialism does do remunerate adequately. So production declines. Thankfully most socialist states have realised that only market forces can effectively address the needs of society.China, Russia and Eastern European countries have only started to experience real growth after abandoning theser unsuccessful socialist policies in favour of capitalist market related policies.

    You suggested that the Western “capitalist” countries practice socialism within their borders as evidenced by farming subsidies, social welfare, health insurance, and the “stimulus packages” and “bailout this”, “rescue packages. However, these do necessarily represent socialist practices. Socialism would seek to provide these from the outset without having tested the market whether these are actually required. In this situation the bailout/ stimulus packages/ social welfare are simply economic “goods” that the market (society) is demanding. The role of the Gvt in the Capitalist state is to be the market participant best placed to provide the “protection” required by the market participants.

    The Capitalist government responds to the market, whilst the Socialist government commands and dictates the market without being well equipped to do so.

  13. Good point – raising problems with no solutions does not help the situation!

    have to go back in time a bit to aid my point;

    Our country was won back on the promise of socialist ideals. Equality for all and properity of the whole nation by collective unprejudiced enterprise is the political and economic ideal that enabled the nation to endure the liberation struggle. It is also what every political party promises the electorate in ANY country.

    What happened after independence was that the government attempted to merely substitute black faces in the white (colonial) capitalist system – we became a petty bourgeois filling in the gaps left by whites as they left the country. What we, the people, did not realise was that the economic system put in place by the rhodesians was designed to sustain a minority and could not accomodate the black majority at the same socioeconomic level as it sustained the white minority.
    The government was busy reaping the benefits from the capitalist enterprises and abusing government expenditure and we the people were enjoying being able to move out of the locations and occupying the formerly white neighbourhoods and jobs. What we did not realise was that this situation was unsustainable as our sheer numbers were going to strecth the resources thinner by the year. Eventually people would protest against the now-apparent illusion of prosperity as they did in the late 1990s.

    The solution;
    What we needed to do on the advent of 1980 was to embark on a mixed economy that courted capitalist enterprise but only as far as it funded a wide socialist program to uplift the education, health and economic levels of EVERY Zimbabwean. That courtship should have had the purpose of enabling our people to adopt the mining, farming and manufacturing technologies that would enable this country to take over these interests over the next 10 or 15 years and begin to create wealth for the whole country. The mistake we made was letting the government run our affairs and not getting involved.
    We have a chance right now in Zimbabwe to go back to the economic drawing board and use capitalist greed to our advantage – we can use their investments as part of a larger plan to make ourselves self-sufficient and producers and processors of our own minerals, agricultural produce and manufacturing output. But we as a people need to ensure we do not let any new government have free reign to do as they wish without consulting their constituencies.
    We let the Zanu government have free reign and they fell to the lure of power and wealth.
    EVERYONE needs to be politically active from Uzumba to Budiriro to Kambanji, everyone must attend community meetings and hold their MPs accountable for implementing the community interests.

    We need to police the politicians. We do not owe them anything – they owe us for voting them in.

    We need to embark on this mixed shortterm-capitalist/socialist economic model with strong involvement from the constituencies otherwise we shall be back right where we are now with a new multiparty political elite siphoning off the country’s wealth.

Comments are closed.