Wherefore Dubai?

Wow. Just…wow. I, as an ignorant American, only knew the surface facts of this city, held up by many as the shining light in the desert.

Now I understand that all large cities have their seedy underbelly, but some of the stuff in this is quite disturbing.

I suppose the debate here is as to the article’s truthiness. Any current/former Dubai residents want to refute or confirm this? Any expats? Bueller?

I found the article rather frightening.

As a S Asian, Dubai people see my worth as little less than a Donkey, and definatly a lot worse than a camel. The gist is true, however I do think that the article is painting a much worse pic than is true. The Sultan guy had the right point, you can make any place sound bad.

Yeah, but indentured servitude? Taking away someone’s passport (and therefore ability to leave by choice)? Pretty draconian for what’s supposedly the most progressive and rich city in the ME.

The environmental aspects of the article struck a chord in me too. All that water being used in an utterly arid region. If the economy of the city goes completely in the tank, how do they pay for the desalination plants to keep operating? What about he reports of raw sewage proliferating the supposedly pristine beaches?

What about the bit that claimed they were building cooling pipes underneath the beach to keep expats feet cool on their stride from blanket to water? Seems insane.

Standard operating procedure for the Gulf States. They pretty much all run like that, and have since the whole oil economy took off.

Thanks for sharing that rather humbling and sad article FoieGrasIsEvil.
I also read all the comments and the majority support the contents of it.

The only ones I saw denouce it basically side stepped it by pointing at the injustices in other countries, which does not refute the article, but also gives claim to the truths within.

Well, I know very little about the politics and economies of the Gulf States other than what I read in encyclopedic fashion. This seemed to dig a bit deeper, and it aroused a reaction from me. Perhaps it’s an overblown, western journalists take on an otherwise superb but flawed utopian Middle Eastern city…but it seemed real to my gullible self.

I wonder if the alleged injusticies are as deep as the article portrays. Maybe they are, and if so, then what? Handwave it away as the cost of doing business?

Some of the posts on that site say yes. Wave it away at the cost of doing business at the expense of others. Its not just Dubai though that is like that but happens all over the world. Think Chinese sweatshops for example, or immigrant labor in the USA. Everything that glitters, is not gold…There world has lost its soul…

The world needs to change…and its coming

I don’t mean to dredge up the most salacious aspects of the article but sex in some parts of the Arab word is something I’m curious about. In a society that practices extreme sexual segregation I would think that this would increase the likelihood of homosexual activity. Does anyone know if the above quote is accurate? I’ve heard similar statements over the years from a variety of sources but I’m not sure how accurate they were. I’m certainly no expert on middle eastern culture.


I don’t have any stats since, it is not something they keep track of (For obvious reasons) but I remember when I used to frequent various Middle East forums, it was talked about how prevalent it was:
Searching out of memory, there is a local saying in Afghanistan that Birds fly above Kandahar using only one wing because they are using the other to cover their behinds.

One can only speculate about the roots of sodomy and homosexuality in Afghanistan because the fact is that a long-standing tradition is always the result of various factors. Some claim that the main reason for this is the ban of any contact between men and women who are not married, while men constantly spend time together.

In the city of Kandahar, which is considered the gay capital of Southern Asia, there is an ancient custom among the ethnic Pashtun people. An adult man picks a young boy, a teenager, called an “ashna” and gives him money and presents in turn for sexual favours. This Pashtun tradition is even represented in their poetry, in odes written about the beauty of young “ashnas”. This is a tradition that is present in all facets of society, practiced by the rich and poor alike. The parents of young boys who are sex slaves are usually aware of their sons’ relations with their “sugar daddies”. And although their parents keep this a secret from others, they do not contest the custom. Especially if the Pashtun is rich.

Anecdotal, but a good Marine (never former Marine, alas) friend that served in Iraq in 2003-2004 told me he observed quite a bit of homosexual actitivy.

I’m starting to get the impression that it is some kind of decayed, underbelly secret result of the harshness of some of these Islamist regimes.

I lived in Dubai for three years full time till 2008, and off and on at other times. What you see is mostly true. While the people that work in hotels/shops etc are almost all imported labor, they live in apartments owned or leased by their companies and for the most part are doing ok.

The construction laborers are a different matter. They live out in the desert in conditions that are often extreme and receive little pay. The buildings they build look good from a distance, but often the workmanship is shoddy… and the finishing is almost always poor.

It is illegal for the employer to takes one’s passport, although some do. While I did not know any laborers, I did know people from Malaysia and the Philippines etc who worked in service jobs and all kept their own passport.

Dubai is a miricle, it has gone from being a strip of desert in a backward area, to a major metropolis in 35 years, and that is an accomplishments not to be overlooked. The troubles are there and are real, but it dose not take away from Dubai’s achievements.

Hard to say really. The place is very diverse and mores change literally evetry 10 miles. Also, homosexuality in the western sence in unknown; you have persons who enjoy homosexual acts, perhaps a lot more than hetrosexual ones, but the idea of “Adam and Steve” is pretty unknown.

Gender segregation varies all over, from non existant in some places to extreme in others. What the incidence is I don’t know.

Wait-- how’s the quality of those skypuncturers they’re building? 'Cause, uh, it could be a pretty big deal if a 1Km building fell down.

Does anyone know what sets Dubai apart from Abu Dhabi? Bahrain? Doha? With Abu Dhabi being another city in UAE I was a bit confused by the way the article seemed to discuss it as if it were a different country. I gather that the Sultan of Dubai is far more than a Mayor in the American sense, is there no concept of federal law? Is Abu Dhabi equally corrupt, dictatorial, polluting and excessive? What about the cultural liberalism in these neighboring cities?

I wondered that too, since the article implies that the quality of the construction suffers quite a bit (as it should) because of the mistreatment of the workers.

Then again, the pyramids were built by slaves in the middle of the desert too, and those stuck around for awhile, so who knows.

A pyramid is an inherently more stable structure than a 1,000 meter penis sticking straight up, and I think the slave thing is disputed these days.

Ha, true.

The UAE is a federation of seven Emirates.

Think of the difference between England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, and then you pretty much have the difference between UAE, and its constituent emirates, Dubai is one, Sharjah is another and Abu Dhabi is one as well, alongwith being the national capital.