I’ve been following my nephew’s adventures in Dubai on his facebook page. He’s out there allegedly working but, if he is to be believed, seems to be spending his time either lounging with a beer next to a pool or else in a nightclub with a beer ogling scantily clad girls.
I’ve been to Dubai four times now. It’s probably the most disgusting display of excess that I’ve ever seen. It starts with the gold topped palm trees inside terminal 3 and carries through to the artificial islands and completely over the top hotels. It already has three of the world’s largest buildings, the world’s largest shopping mall, the first underwater hotel, an indoor ski resort, the world’s largest theme park along with those two artificial archipelagos in the shape of a palm tree and the world map. It also has the world’s only 7-star luxury hotel and is building the world’s first spaceport. As a result Dubai currently employs 15%-25% of the world’s cranes.
It’s the perfect example of what you do if you have too much money. First you decide to rebuild the world by casually knocking out a bunch of islands from scratch, and then chucking them into a lagoon in the shape of planet earth. Not content with that, you follow up by erecting the world’s tallest tower, the unnecessarily soaring Burj Khalifa. Burj Khalifa stands proud at 829.84 m – that’s nearly 3 times the size of London’s Shard.
And yet still not satisfied, they are constantly dreaming up more schemes to fritter away their wealth. All well and good you might think, if they want to fritter away, let them fritter away. Actually it’s maybe not so much a case of frittering away their wealth; I mean they’ve got to have somewhere to put it, you can’t just stuff it under your pillow can you? Without reinvesting it, your dosh depreciates, hence money breeds money, and more money, and you can use that to leverage more money, and what do you get? Really, really big towers and super show-off underwater hotels, straight-out of a Bond villain’s wackiest and most decadent megalomaniac fantasies.
Unfortunately , and this is where I find all of this disgusting, this eye-popping luxury was built on the backs of foreign workers who are paid a pittance. Over a million men and women from India, Bangladesh, Nepal have turned Dubai from a sleepy village into a shimmering Arabian Las Vegas – and have been rewarded with next to no rights and meagre pay. They sleep in labour camps, each one crammed with 3,000 or more people. In the strict hierarchy of the emirate, their role is to serve the expats and wealthy natives. It is all but a slave society.
On top of that Dubai, like the rest of the emirates and the other Gulf states, has not used its enormous wealth to develop its own people, they just import what they need ready-made. So the oil-rich Gulf states buy in the architects and the chefs who might present the glitzy front of a westernised society – skipping out the awkward intermediate stage of nurturing the talents of their own people. A choice example is Qatar, which solved the problem of sporting achievement, not by training its children in athletics, but by paying foreigners to become Qataris. It worked a treat when Saif Saeed Asaad won an Olympic bronze for weightlifting. Only the pedantic among us pointed out that Asaad was actually Angel Popov of Bulgaria, competing under an assumed name.
For me Dubai is a symbol of everything wrong with our present culture. Rooted in a finance and real estate bubble, planned as big for the sake of bigness, artificially opulent, and only saved from disaster by unsustainable oil revenues
I have nothing to say and I'm going to say it.