What's Really Going On in Dubai
I know Dubai well. The best description of it comes from a man who probably hasn't even been there: Martin Amis. He called it a 'Middle Eastern
I don't believe in international power-elite conspiracies, though if there was one Dubai would certainly be involved. Everyone in the country has a
conspiracy theory. Autocracies breed them, because no-one really knows what's going on except the rulers. And Dubai, despite a few token efforts
under Sheikh Mohammed to make government more consultative, is an autocracy par excellence
It is, however, a benign autocracy, headed by an unusually enlightened ruling family. Yes, the place is built and maintained by indentured labour
working under the direction of expatriate managers for the benefit of a ruling class who are essentially nothing but rentiers
. But you could
say just the same of Periclean Athens, or Rome at any time up to the Antonines -- these are the models of statehood and government on which Western
civilization is founded. The difference is that in Greece and Rome the indentured labourers were actually slaves, and the expat managers were helots,
with far fewer rights than management-level expats enjoy in modern Dubai.
The worst thing about Dubai, really, is that although it is one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities (75% of the population was expat in 2000 and
the proportion is probably even higher now), it is also one of the most racist. There is a strict hierarchy of race, going something like
- Members of the local ruling families
- Other Gulf Arabs
- Britons and Americans
- Other Europeans, old-mony Iranians and Lebanese Christians
- Wealthy, established Indian families with connections to the local elite
- Jordanians, Palestinians and other ethnic Arabs
- Indians in general (roughly 70% of the expat population)
- Filipinos, Pakistanis (mainly tribal types from Peshawar), Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans
I'm not exactly sure where to place the hookers, who are of all races. So many are from Eastern Europe, China or the former USSR that any
Oriental or Slavic-looking woman is automatically assumed to be a prostitute.
This racism isn't enforced; it's natural.
Dubai is the place to go if you want fresh young meat or other things that are illegal pretty much everywhere else - young boys, young girls,
I think you're thinking of Bangkok. I'm pretty sure that's where all the pervs go. Also, Dubai recently got upset about people having sex on
their beach, and are cracking down on topless sunbathers.
Slueth is right. I know Bangkok and I know Dubai. Bangkok may conceivably have more prostitutes per square mile (crowded Asian city, y'know; higher
population density) but Dubai wins hands down for sleaze. That's something to do with the fact that the official prohibitions on prostitution, drugs
and other amusements of that kind are ostensibly so rigid; when you criminalize something, everyone who indulges becomes a criminal. So vice in Dubai,
however glamorously it is dressed up (and it can be very glamorous indeed), is of necessity sordid, degrading and exploitatory. In Bangkok, everything
is matter-of-fact and businesslike, pretty much out in the open. Dubai isn't like that, although it is rife with prostitution. As for drugs, I never
met anyone who had a problem getting what they needed. What I sampled myself was of excellent quality, and not terribly expensive.
Being a Muslim country surrounded by other Muslim countries, Dubai has no choice but to play it this way. Its rulers would almost certainly like to be
more liberal than they are, but their geographical and cultural situation won't allow it.
So I'm afraid super70
is fantasizing when he writes
Where else can you stand outside of a 7 star hotel and watch a public stoning?
I don't know where else, but you can't do it in Dubai. They don't go in for stonings, either public or private, there. Sharia law only applies to
Muslims, and its interpretation is, by Islamic standards, extrememly liberal. There are no judicial beheadings, amputations, stonings or floggings
(though the lash is popular in less liberal UAE states like Fujeirah and Ras al Kaimah).
Only the very wicked and very poor have much to complain of from Dubai's police and judiciary. I have a relative and a couple of acquaintances who
spent time in gaol there. The acquaintances were in for drug dealing - coc aine, ecstasy and hash. The relative was doing a favour for a Muslim
friend - specifically, buying him a case of Scotch (Muslims aren't allowed to purchase or be seen drinking alcohol in Dubai, though many do both).
The gaol was, as such things go, pretty civilized. My relative got three months and was then deported. The druggies had connections -- the father of
one of them piloted a private jet belonging to one of the leading families -- and got out in a couple of weeks. They, too, were deported. Apart from
never being allowed to return to the UAE again, that was the extent of the penalty they suffered.
On the subject of booze, yes, it's true that you need a permit from the CID (and permission from your employer) to buy it... legally. I never had a
permit. I had a bootlegger, an Indian named Sharji who drove a pickup round Dubai with several hundred gallons of spirits stashed in the back under a
tarpaulin. He brought the stuff in from Ajman, a nearby emirate where it is freely available. Many expats do the weekend 'Ajman run' in their cars,
returning with a week's supply of booze in the boot. I found Sharji more convenient - call him, and he'd be at your door in under an hour. He'd
been deported half a dozen times, returning each time under a different passport to continue where he'd left off. He never sold to Muslims, though --
he knew his trade too well to make a mistake like that.
Originally posted by Toadmund
I saw a documentary on TV about Dubai. Apparently it's all built with 3rd world labour at very low wages. Some of them don't even see their
Sadly, this is correct. In fact, I spent some time and money helping out a compatriot who'd got suckered into a deal like that. She was a rather
naive young woman who'd worked for one of my friends back home and had emigrated (against her employer's advice) to Dubai. There she ended up
working 12 hours a day behind the counter in a megamall out on the Sheikh Zayed Road (that's the one you see in the OP's link) and living in an
all-female dormitory out in the desert that was essentially a prison as far as she was concerned - she wasn't making enough money to be able to
afford the 30km taxi ride into town, and there was no bus service. I gave her some money to help her get herself out of there, but the last I heard of
her, she had moved into a squalid walkup in Diyafah, sharing with a 'girl from Ukraine' (read hooker). I hope she didn't take up the same
Dubai is an interesting place, though not a nice one. Hanslune
has it right:
Dubai was a good place - 12 years ago. Unfortunately I was there and watched it built itself into a tourism haven.
I was there just seven years ago, and it was still a good place -- for making money, shopping and partying. Culturally, though, it was and remains a
desert far more lifeless than the real desert that surrounds it.
Hanslune's post is one of the most informed and accurate on this thread, but so is this one:
Originally posted by hal4511
The Top 20 Reasons Not to Move to Dubai (in no particular order!)
By Tia O’Neill...
...Taxi drivers are dangerous and smelly...
(...whine, whinge, sneer....)
Reading this brought back to me some powerful memories of Dubai - specifically, of sitting in some well-stocked hotel bar or British expat's luxury
home in Jumeirah and hearing people - people who were having a wonderful time, making scads of money and living lives they couldn't come close to
affording back home - bitching about how awful Dubai and the Arabs and the Indians and everyone else was. They have a name for people like Tia
O'Neill in Dubai; they're called Jumeirah Janes. And they are, frankly, the pits. Agent_T
is right when he says
Nice place overall but the 'Brit ex-pat' attitude spoils it.
Finally, getting back to the conspiracy angle...
Originally posted by Anonymous ATS
The only "conspiracy" is that they're relatively unharmed by terrorist attacks. That's because it's a business platform for Westerners and people
from the East as well, why would they wanna bomb their own income source?
This is true, and in my view highly creditable. It shows how switched-on the Maktoum, the ruling family of Dubai, are. Many people have talked on this
thread about 'when the oil runs out'. The fact is, it already has run out, as the Maktoum always knew it would. Sheikh Rashid, the present ruler's
father, used to say 'My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land-Rover, his son will drive a
Land-Rover, but his son's son will ride a camel.' Today, the oil industry accounts for less than 6%
of Dubai's GNP
As for this...
Originally posted by Anonymous ATS
I beleive the saudis are one of the strongest bloodlines that are connected to the ancient sumerians.
Well, actually, the Maktoum are members of the
fought wars against the Saudi. You can find a rather sanitized version of their
on Sheikh Mo's
web site. Happy reading!
[edit on 22-7-2008 by Astyanax]