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 Anyone wanna go to Dubai free?
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Posted on 04-08-09 2:48 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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The dark side of Dubai

Dubai was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging.

Construction workers in their distinctive blue overalls building the upper floors a new Dubai tower, with the distinctive Burj al-Arab hotel in the background
Construction workers in their distinctive blue overalls building the upper floors a new Dubai tower, with the distinctive Burj al-Arab hotel in the background

The wide, smiling face of Sheikh Mohammed – the absolute ruler of Dubai – beams down on
his creation. His image is displayed on every other building, sandwiched between the more familiar corporate rictuses of Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders. This man has sold Dubai to the world as
the city of One Thousand and One Arabian Lights, a Shangri-La in the Middle East insulated from the dust-storms blasting across the region. He dominates the Manhattan-manqué skyline, beaming out from row after row of glass pyramids and hotels smelted into the shape of piles of golden coins. And there he stands on the tallest building in the world – a skinny spike, jabbing farther into the sky than any other human
construction in history.But something has flickered in Sheikh Mohammed's smile. The ubiquitous cranes

have paused on the skyline, as if stuck in time. There are countless
buildings half-finished, seemingly abandoned. In the swankiest new
constructions – like the vast Atlantis hotel, a giant pink castle built in
1,000 days for $1.5bn on its own artificial island – where rainwater is
leaking from the ceilings and the tiles are falling off the roof. This
Neverland was built on the Never-Never – and now the cracks are beginning to
show. Suddenly it looks less like Manhattan in the sun than Iceland in the

Once the manic burst of building has stopped and the whirlwind has slowed, the

secrets of Dubai are slowly seeping out. This is a city built from nothing
in just a few wild decades on credit and ecocide, suppression and slavery.
Dubai is a living metal metaphor for the neo-liberal globalised world that
may be crashing – at last – into history.

I. An Adult Disneyland

Karen Andrews can't speak. Every time she starts to tell her story, she puts
her head down and crumples. She is slim and angular and has the faded
radiance of the once-rich, even though her clothes are as creased as her
forehead. I find her in the car park of one of Dubai's finest international
hotels, where she is living, in her Range Rover. She has been sleeping here
for months, thanks to the kindness of the Bangladeshi car park attendants
who don't have the heart to move her on. This is not where she thought her
Dubai dream would end.

Her story comes out in stutters, over four hours. At times, her old voice –

witty and warm – breaks through. Karen came here from Canada when her
husband was offered a job in the senior division of a famous multinational. "When
he said Dubai, I said – if you want me to wear black and quit booze, baby,
you've got the wrong girl. But he asked me to give it a chance. And I loved

All her worries melted when she touched down in Dubai in 2005. "It was an

adult Disneyland, where Sheikh Mohammed is the mouse," she says. "Life
was fantastic. You had these amazing big apartments, you had a whole army of
your own staff, you pay no taxes at all. It seemed like everyone was a CEO.
We were partying the whole time."

Her husband, Daniel, bought two properties. "We were drunk on Dubai,"

she says. But for the first time in his life, he was beginning to mismanage
their finances. "We're not talking huge sums, but he was getting
confused. It was so unlike Daniel, I was surprised. We got into a little bit
of debt." After a year, she found out why: Daniel was diagnosed with a
brain tumour.

One doctor told him he had a year to live; another said it was benign and he'd

be okay. But the debts were growing. "Before I came here, I didn't know
anything about Dubai law. I assumed if all these big companies come here, it
must be pretty like Canada's or any other liberal democracy's," she
says. Nobody told her there is no concept of bankruptcy. If you get into
debt and you can't pay, you go to prison.

"When we realised that, I sat Daniel down and told him: listen, we need

to get out of here. He knew he was guaranteed a pay-off when he resigned, so
we said – right, let's take the pay-off, clear the debt, and go."
So Daniel resigned – but he was given a lower pay-off than his contract
suggested. The debt remained. As soon as you quit your job in Dubai, your
employer has to inform your bank. If you have any outstanding debts that
aren't covered by your savings, then all your accounts are frozen, and you
are forbidden to leave the country.

"Suddenly our cards stopped working. We had nothing. We were thrown out

of our apartment." Karen can't speak about what happened next for a
long time; she is shaking.

Daniel was arrested and taken away on the day of their eviction. It was six

days before she could talk to him. "He told me he was put in a cell
with another debtor, a Sri Lankan guy who was only 27, who said he couldn't
face the shame to his family. Daniel woke up and the boy had swallowed
razor-blades. He banged for help, but nobody came, and the boy died in front
of him."

Karen managed to beg from her friends for a few weeks, "but it was so

humiliating. I've never lived like this. I worked in the fashion industry. I
had my own shops. I've never..." She peters out.

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."

II. Tumbleweed

Thirty years ago, almost all of contemporary Dubai was desert, inhabited only
by cactuses and tumbleweed and scorpions. But downtown there are traces of
the town that once was, buried amidst the metal and glass. In the dusty fort
of the Dubai Museum, a sanitised version of this story is told.

In the mid-18th century, a small village was built here, in the lower Persian
Gulf, where people would dive for pearls off the coast. It soon began to
accumulate a cosmopolitan population washing up from Persia, the Indian
subcontinent, and other Arab countries, all hoping to make their fortune.
They named it after a local locust, the daba, who consumed everything before
it. The town was soon seized by the gunships of the British Empire, who held
it by the throat as late as 1971. As they scuttled away, Dubai decided to
ally with the six surrounding states and make up the United Arab Emirates

The British quit, exhausted, just as oil was being discovered, and the sheikhs
who suddenly found themselves in charge faced a remarkable dilemma. They
were largely illiterate nomads who spent their lives driving camels through
the desert – yet now they had a vast pot of gold. What should they do with

Dubai only had a dribble of oil compared to neighbouring Abu Dhabi – so Sheikh
Maktoum decided to use the revenues to build something that would last.
Israel used to boast it made the desert bloom; Sheikh Maktoum resolved to
make the desert boom. He would build a city to be a centre of tourism and
financial services, sucking up cash and talent from across the globe. He
invited the world to come tax-free – and they came in their millions,
swamping the local population, who now make up just 5 per cent of Dubai. A
city seemed to fall from the sky in just three decades, whole and complete
and swelling. They fast-forwarded from the 18th century to the 21st in a
single generation.

If you take the Big Bus Tour of Dubai – the passport to a pre-processed
experience of every major city on earth – you are fed the propaganda-vision
of how this happened. "Dubai's motto is 'Open doors, open minds',"
the tour guide tells you in clipped tones, before depositing you at the
souks to buy camel tea-cosies. "Here you are free. To purchase fabrics,"
he adds. As you pass each new monumental building, he tells you: "The
World Trade Centre was built by His Highness..."

But this is a lie. The sheikh did not build this city. It was built by slaves.
They are building it now.

III. Hidden in plain view

There are three different Dubais, all swirling around each other. There are
the expats, like Karen; there are the Emiratis, headed by Sheikh Mohammed;
and then there is the foreign underclass who built the city, and are trapped
here. They are hidden in plain view. You see them everywhere, in dirt-caked
blue uniforms, being shouted at by their superiors, like a chain gang – but
you are trained not to look. It is like a mantra: the Sheikh built the city.
The Sheikh built the city. Workers? What workers?

Every evening, the hundreds of thousands of young men who build Dubai are
bussed from their sites to a vast concrete wasteland an hour out of town,
where they are quarantined away. Until a few years ago they were shuttled
back and forth on cattle trucks, but the expats complained this was
unsightly, so now they are shunted on small metal buses that function like
greenhouses in the desert heat. They sweat like sponges being slowly wrung

Sonapur is a rubble-strewn patchwork of miles and miles of identical concrete
buildings. Some 300,000 men live piled up here, in a place whose name in
Hindi means "City of Gold". In the first camp I stop at – riven
with the smell of sewage and sweat – the men huddle around, eager to tell
someone, anyone, what is happening to them.

Sahinal Monir, a slim 24-year-old from the deltas of Bangladesh. "To get
you here, they tell you Dubai is heaven. Then you get here and realise it is
hell," he says. Four years ago, an employment agent arrived in
Sahinal's village in Southern Bangladesh. He told the men of the village
that there was a place where they could earn 40,000 takka a month (£400)
just for working nine-to-five on construction projects. It was a place where
they would be given great accommodation, great food, and treated well. All
they had to do was pay an up-front fee of 220,000 takka (£2,300) for the
work visa – a fee they'd pay off in the first six months, easy. So Sahinal
sold his family land, and took out a loan from the local lender, to head to
this paradise.

As soon as he arrived at Dubai airport, his passport was taken from him by his
construction company. He has not seen it since. He was told brusquely that
from now on he would be working 14-hour days in the desert heat – where
western tourists are advised not to stay outside for even five minutes in
summer, when it hits 55 degrees – for 500 dirhams a month (£90), less than a
quarter of the wage he was promised. If you don't like it, the company told
him, go home. "But how can I go home? You have my passport, and I have
no money for the ticket," he said. "Well, then you'd better get to
work," they replied.

Sahinal was in a panic. His family back home – his son, daughter, wife and
parents – were waiting for money, excited that their boy had finally made
it. But he was going to have to work for more than two years just to pay for
the cost of getting here – and all to earn less than he did in Bangladesh.

He shows me his room. It is a tiny, poky, concrete cell with triple-decker
bunk-beds, where he lives with 11 other men. All his belongings are piled
onto his bunk: three shirts, a spare pair of trousers, and a cellphone. The
room stinks, because the lavatories in the corner of the camp – holes in the
ground – are backed up with excrement and clouds of black flies. There is no
air conditioning or fans, so the heat is "unbearable. You cannot sleep.
All you do is sweat and scratch all night." At the height of summer,
people sleep on the floor, on the roof, anywhere where they can pray for a
moment of breeze.

The water delivered to the camp in huge white containers isn't properly
desalinated: it tastes of salt. "It makes us sick, but we have nothing
else to drink," he says.

The work is "the worst in the world," he says. "You have to
carry 50kg bricks and blocks of cement in the worst heat imaginable ... This
heat – it is like nothing else. You sweat so much you can't pee, not for
days or weeks. It's like all the liquid comes out through your skin and you
stink. You become dizzy and sick but you aren't allowed to stop, except for
an hour in the afternoon. You know if you drop anything or slip, you could
die. If you take time off sick, your wages are docked, and you are trapped
here even longer."

He is currently working on the 67th floor of a shiny new tower, where he
builds upwards, into the sky, into the heat. He doesn't know its name. In
his four years here, he has never seen the Dubai of tourist-fame, except as
he constructs it floor-by-floor.

Is he angry? He is quiet for a long time. "Here, nobody shows their
anger. You can't. You get put in jail for a long time, then deported."
Last year, some workers went on strike after they were not given their wages
for four months. The Dubai police surrounded their camps with razor-wire and
water-cannons and blasted them out and back to work.

The "ringleaders" were imprisoned. I try a different question: does
Sohinal regret coming? All the men look down, awkwardly. "How can we
think about that? We are trapped. If we start to think about regrets..."
He lets the sentence trail off. Eventually, another worker breaks the
silence by adding: "I miss my country, my family and my land. We can
grow food in Bangladesh. Here, nothing grows. Just oil and buildings."

Since the recession hit, they say, the electricity has been cut off in dozens
of the camps, and the men have not been paid for months. Their companies
have disappeared with their passports and their pay. "We have been
robbed of everything. Even if somehow we get back to Bangladesh, the loan
sharks will demand we repay our loans immediately, and when we can't, we'll
be sent to prison."

This is all supposed to be illegal. Employers are meant to pay on time, never
take your passport, give you breaks in the heat – but I met nobody who said
it happens. Not one. These men are conned into coming and trapped into
staying, with the complicity of the Dubai authorities.

Sahinal could well die out here. A British man who used to work on
construction projects told me: "There's a huge number of suicides in
the camps and on the construction sites, but they're not reported. They're
described as 'accidents'." Even then, their families aren't free: they
simply inherit the debts. A Human Rights Watch study found there is a "cover-up
of the true extent" of deaths from heat exhaustion, overwork and
suicide, but the Indian consulate registered 971 deaths of their nationals
in 2005 alone. After this figure was leaked, the consulates were told to
stop counting.

At night, in the dusk, I sit in the camp with Sohinal and his friends as they
scrape together what they have left to buy a cheap bottle of spirits. They
down it in one ferocious gulp. "It helps you to feel numb",
Sohinal says through a stinging throat. In the distance, the glistening
Dubai skyline he built stands, oblivious.

IV. Mauled by the mall

I find myself stumbling in a daze from the camps into the sprawling marble
malls that seem to stand on every street in Dubai. It is so hot there is no
point building pavements; people gather in these cathedrals of consumerism
to bask in the air conditioning. So within a ten minute taxi-ride, I have
left Sohinal and I am standing in the middle of Harvey Nichols, being shown
a £20,000 taffeta dress by a bored salesgirl. "As you can see, it
is cut on the bias..." she says, and I stop writing.

Time doesn't seem to pass in the malls. Days blur with the same electric
light, the same shined floors, the same brands I know from home. Here, Dubai
is reduced to its component sounds: do-buy. In the most expensive malls I am
almost alone, the shops empty and echoing. On the record, everybody tells me
business is going fine. Off the record, they look panicky. There is a hat
exhibition ahead of the Dubai races, selling elaborate headgear for £1,000 a
pop. "Last year, we were packed. Now look," a hat designer tells
me. She swoops her arm over a vacant space.

I approach a blonde 17-year-old Dutch girl wandering around in hotpants,
oblivious to the swarms of men gaping at her. "I love it here!"
she says. "The heat, the malls, the beach!" Does it ever bother
you that it's a slave society? She puts her head down, just as Sohinal did. "I
try not to see," she says. Even at 17, she has learned not to look, and
not to ask; that, she senses, is a transgression too far.

Between the malls, there is nothing but the connecting tissue of asphalt.
Every road has at least four lanes; Dubai feels like a motorway punctuated
by shopping centres. You only walk anywhere if you are suicidal. The
residents of Dubai flit from mall to mall by car or taxis.

How does it feel if this is your country, filled with foreigners? Unlike the
expats and the slave class, I can't just approach the native Emiratis to ask
questions when I see them wandering around – the men in cool white robes,
the women in sweltering black. If you try, the women blank you, and the men
look affronted, and tell you brusquely that Dubai is "fine". So I
browse through the Emirati blog-scene and found some typical-sounding young
Emiratis. We meet – where else? – in the mall.

Ahmed al-Atar is a handsome 23-year-old with a neat, trimmed beard, tailored
white robes, and rectangular wire-glasses. He speaks perfect
American-English, and quickly shows that he knows London, Los Angeles and
Paris better than most westerners. Sitting back in his chair in an identikit
Starbucks, he announces: "This is the best place in the world to be
young! The government pays for your education up to PhD level. You get given
a free house when you get married. You get free healthcare, and if it's not
good enough here, they pay for you to go abroad. You don't even have to pay
for your phone calls. Almost everyone has a maid, a nanny, and a driver. And
we never pay any taxes. Don't you wish you were Emirati?"

I try to raise potential objections to this Panglossian summary, but he leans
forward and says: "Look – my grandfather woke up every day and he would
have to fight to get to the well first to get water. When the wells ran dry,
they had to have water delivered by camel. They were always hungry and
thirsty and desperate for jobs. He limped all his life, because he there was
no medical treatment available when he broke his leg. Now look at us!"

For Emiratis, this is a Santa Claus state, handing out goodies while it makes
its money elsewhere: through renting out land to foreigners, soft taxes on
them like business and airport charges, and the remaining dribble of oil.
Most Emiratis, like Ahmed, work for the government, so they're cushioned
from the credit crunch. "I haven't felt any effect at all, and nor have
my friends," he says. "Your employment is secure. You will only be
fired if you do something incredibly bad." The laws are currently being
tightened, to make it even more impossible to sack an Emirati.

Sure, the flooding-in of expats can sometimes be "an eyesore", Ahmed
says. "But we see the expats as the price we had to pay for this
development. How else could we do it? Nobody wants to go back to the days of
the desert, the days before everyone came. We went from being like an
African country to having an average income per head of $120,000 a year. And
we're supposed to complain?"

He says the lack of political freedom is fine by him. "You'll find it
very hard to find an Emirati who doesn't support Sheikh Mohammed."
Because they're scared? "No, because we really all support him. He's a
great leader. Just look!" He smiles and says: "I'm sure my life is
very much like yours. We hang out, have a coffee, go to the movies. You'll
be in a Pizza Hut or Nando's in London, and at the same time I'll be in one
in Dubai," he says, ordering another latte.

But do all young Emiratis see it this way? Can it really be so sunny in the
political sands? In the sleek Emirates Tower Hotel, I meet Sultan
al-Qassemi. He's a 31-year-old Emirati columnist for the Dubai press and
private art collector, with a reputation for being a contrarian liberal,
advocating gradual reform. He is wearing Western clothes – blue jeans and a
Ralph Lauren shirt – and speaks incredibly fast, turning himself into a
manic whirr of arguments.

"People here are turning into lazy, overweight babies!" he exclaims. "The
nanny state has gone too far. We don't do anything for ourselves! Why don't
any of us work for the private sector? Why can't a mother and father look
after their own child?" And yet, when I try to bring up the system of
slavery that built Dubai, he looks angry. "People should give us credit,"
he insists. "We are the most tolerant people in the world. Dubai is the
only truly international city in the world. Everyone who comes here is
treated with respect."

I pause, and think of the vast camps in Sonapur, just a few miles away. Does
he even know they exist? He looks irritated. "You know, if there are 30
or 40 cases [of worker abuse] a year, that sounds like a lot but when you
think about how many people are here..." Thirty or 40? This abuse is
endemic to the system, I say. We're talking about hundreds of thousands.

Sultan is furious. He splutters: "You don't think Mexicans are treated
badly in New York City? And how long did it take Britain to treat people
well? I could come to London and write about the homeless people on Oxford
Street and make your city sound like a terrible place, too! The workers here
can leave any time they want! Any Indian can leave, any Asian can leave!"

But they can't, I point out. Their passports are taken away, and their wages
are withheld. "Well, I feel bad if that happens, and anybody who does
that should be punished. But their embassies should help them." They
try. But why do you forbid the workers – with force – from going on strike
against lousy employers? "Thank God we don't allow that!" he
exclaims. "Strikes are in-convenient! They go on the street – we're not
having that. We won't be like France. Imagine a country where they the
workers can just stop whenever they want!" So what should the workers
do when they are cheated and lied to? "Quit. Leave the country."

I sigh. Sultan is seething now. "People in the West are always
complaining about us," he says. Suddenly, he adopts a mock-whiny voice
and says, in imitation of these disgusting critics: "Why don't you
treat animals better? Why don't you have better shampoo advertising? Why
don't you treat labourers better?" It's a revealing order: animals,
shampoo, then workers. He becomes more heated, shifting in his seat, jabbing
his finger at me. "I gave workers who worked for me safety goggles and
special boots, and they didn't want to wear them! It slows them down!"

And then he smiles, coming up with what he sees as his killer argument. "When
I see Western journalists criticise us – don't you realise you're shooting
yourself in the foot? The Middle East will be far more dangerous if Dubai
fails. Our export isn't oil, it's hope. Poor Egyptians or Libyans or
Iranians grow up saying – I want to go to Dubai. We're very important to the
region. We are showing how to be a modern Muslim country. We don't have any
fundamentalists here. Europeans shouldn't gloat at our demise. You should be
very worried.... Do you know what will happen if this model fails? Dubai
will go down the Iranian path, the Islamist path."

Sultan sits back. My arguments have clearly disturbed him; he says in a
softer, conciliatory tone, almost pleading: "Listen. My mother used to
go to the well and get a bucket of water every morning. On her wedding day,
she was given an orange as a gift because she had never eaten one. Two of my
brothers died when they were babies because the healthcare system hadn't
developed yet. Don't judge us." He says it again, his eyes filled with
intensity: "Don't judge us."

V. The Dunkin' Donuts Dissidents

But there is another face to the Emirati minority – a small huddle of
dissidents, trying to shake the Sheikhs out of abusive laws. Next to a
Virgin Megastore and a Dunkin' Donuts, with James Blunt's "You're
Beautiful" blaring behind me, I meet the Dubai dictatorship's Public
Enemy Number One. By way of introduction, Mohammed al-Mansoori says from
within his white robes and sinewy face: "Westerners come her and see
the malls and the tall buildings and they think that means we are free. But
these businesses, these buildings – who are they for? This is a
dictatorship. The royal family think they own the country, and the people
are their servants. There is no freedom here."

We snuffle out the only Arabic restaurant in this mall, and he says everything
you are banned – under threat of prison – from saying in Dubai. Mohammed
tells me he was born in Dubai to a fisherman father who taught him one
enduring lesson: Never follow the herd. Think for yourself. In the sudden
surge of development, Mohammed trained as a lawyer. By the Noughties, he had
climbed to the head of the Jurists' Association, an organisation set up to
press for Dubai's laws to be consistent with international human rights

And then – suddenly – Mohammed thwacked into the limits of Sheikh Mohammed's
tolerance. Horrified by the "system of slavery" his country was
being built on, he spoke out to Human Rights Watch and the BBC. "So I
was hauled in by the secret police and told: shut up, or you will lose you
job, and your children will be unemployable," he says. "But how
could I be silent?"

He was stripped of his lawyer's licence and his passport – becoming yet
another person imprisoned in this country. "I have been blacklisted and
so have my children. The newspapers are not allowed to write about me."

Why is the state so keen to defend this system of slavery? He offers a prosaic
explanation. "Most companies are owned by the government, so they
oppose human rights laws because it will reduce their profit margins. It's
in their interests that the workers are slaves."

Last time there was a depression, there was a starbust of democracy in Dubai,
seized by force from the sheikhs. In the 1930s, the city's merchants banded
together against Sheikh Said bin Maktum al-Maktum – the absolute ruler of
his day – and insisted they be given control over the state finances. It
lasted only a few years, before the Sheikh – with the enthusiastic support
of the British – snuffed them out.

And today? Sheikh Mohammed turned Dubai into Creditopolis, a city built
entirely on debt. Dubai owes 107 percent of its entire GDP. It would be bust
already, if the neighbouring oil-soaked state of Abu Dhabi hadn't pulled out
its chequebook. Mohammed says this will constrict freedom even further. "Now
Abu Dhabi calls the tunes – and they are much more conservative and
restrictive than even Dubai. Freedom here will diminish every day."
Already, new media laws have been drafted forbidding the press to report on
anything that could "damage" Dubai or "its economy". Is
this why the newspapers are giving away glossy supplements talking about "encouraging
economic indicators"?

Everybody here waves Islamism as the threat somewhere over the horizon, sure
to swell if their advice is not followed. Today, every imam is appointed by
the government, and every sermon is tightly controlled to keep it moderate.
But Mohammed says anxiously: "We don't have Islamism here now, but I
think that if you control people and give them no way to express anger, it
could rise. People who are told to shut up all the time can just explode."

Later that day, against another identikit-corporate backdrop, I meet another
dissident – Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, Professor of Political Science at Emirates
University. His anger focuses not on political reform, but the erosion of
Emirati identity. He is famous among the locals, a rare outspoken conductor
for their anger. He says somberly: "There has been a rupture here. This
is a totally different city to the one I was born in 50 years ago."

He looks around at the shiny floors and Western tourists and says: "What
we see now didn't occur in our wildest dreams. We never thought we could be
such a success, a trendsetter, a model for other Arab countries. The people
of Dubai are mighty proud of their city, and rightly so. And yet..." He
shakes his head. "In our hearts, we fear we have built a modern city
but we are losing it to all these expats."

Adbulkhaleq says every Emirati of his generation lives with a "psychological
trauma." Their hearts are divided – "between pride on one
side, and fear on the other." Just after he says this, a smiling
waitress approaches, and asks us what we would like to drink. He orders a

VI. Dubai Pride

There is one group in Dubai for whom the rhetoric of sudden freedom and
liberation rings true – but it is the very group the government wanted to
liberate least: gays.

Beneath a famous international hotel, I clamber down into possibly the only
gay club on the Saudi Arabian peninsula. I find a United Nations of
tank-tops and bulging biceps, dancing to Kylie, dropping ecstasy, and
partying like it's Soho. "Dubai is the best place in the Muslim world
for gays!" a 25-year old Emirati with spiked hair says, his arms
wrapped around his 31-year old "husband". "We are alive. We
can meet. That is more than most Arab gays."

It is illegal to be gay in Dubai, and punishable by 10 years in prison. But
the locations of the latest unofficial gay clubs circulate online, and men
flock there, seemingly unafraid of the police. "They might bust the
club, but they will just disperse us," one of them says. "The
police have other things to do."

In every large city, gay people find a way to find each other – but Dubai has
become the clearing-house for the region's homosexuals, a place where they
can live in relative safety. Saleh, a lean private in the Saudi Arabian
army, has come here for the Coldplay concert, and tells me Dubai is "great"
for gays: "In Saudi, it's hard to be straight when you're young. The
women are shut away so everyone has gay sex. But they only want to have sex
with boys – 15- to 21-year-olds. I'm 27, so I'm too old now. I need to find
real gays, so this is the best place. All Arab gays want to live in Dubai."

With that, Saleh dances off across the dancefloor, towards a Dutch guy with
big biceps and a big smile.

VII. The Lifestyle

All the guidebooks call Dubai a "melting pot", but as I trawl across
the city, I find that every group here huddles together in its own little
ethnic enclave – and becomes a caricature of itself. One night – in the
heart of this homesick city, tired of the malls and the camps – I go to
Double Decker, a hang-out for British expats. At the entrance there is a red
telephone box, and London bus-stop signs. Its wooden interior looks like a
cross between a colonial clubhouse in the Raj and an Eighties school disco,
with blinking coloured lights and cheese blaring out. As I enter, a girl in
a short skirt collapses out of the door onto her back. A guy wearing a
pirate hat helps her to her feet, dropping his beer bottle with a paralytic

I start to talk to two sun-dried women in their sixties who have been getting
gently sozzled since midday. "You stay here for The Lifestyle,"
they say, telling me to take a seat and order some more drinks. All the
expats talk about The Lifestyle, but when you ask what it is, they become
vague. Ann Wark tries to summarise it: "Here, you go out every night.
You'd never do that back home. You see people all the time. It's great. You
have lots of free time. You have maids and staff so you don't have to do all
that stuff. You party!"

They have been in Dubai for 20 years, and they are happy to explain how the
city works. "You've got a hierarchy, haven't you?" Ann says. "It's
the Emiratis at the top, then I'd say the British and other Westerners. Then
I suppose it's the Filipinos, because they've got a bit more brains than the
Indians. Then at the bottom you've got the Indians and all them lot."

They admit, however, they have "never" spoken to an Emirati. Never? "No.
They keep themselves to themselves." Yet Dubai has disappointed them.
Jules Taylor tells me: "If you have an accident here it's a nightmare.
There was a British woman we knew who ran over an Indian guy, and she was
locked up for four days! If you have a tiny bit of alcohol on your breath
they're all over you. These Indians throw themselves in front of cars,
because then their family has to be given blood money – you know,
compensation. But the police just blame us. That poor woman."

A 24-year-old British woman called Hannah Gamble takes a break from the
dancefloor to talk to me. "I love the sun and the beach! It's great out
here!" she says. Is there anything bad? "Oh yes!" she says.
Ah: one of them has noticed, I think with relief. "The banks! When you
want to make a transfer you have to fax them. You can't do it online."
Anything else? She thinks hard. "The traffic's not very good."

When I ask the British expats how they feel to not be in a democracy, their
reaction is always the same. First, they look bemused. Then they look
affronted. "It's the Arab way!" an Essex boy shouts at me in
response, as he tries to put a pair of comedy antlers on his head while
pouring some beer into the mouth of his friend, who is lying on his back on
the floor, gurning.

Later, in a hotel bar, I start chatting to a dyspeptic expat American who
works in the cosmetics industry and is desperate to get away from these
people. She says: "All the people who couldn't succeed in their own
countries end up here, and suddenly they're rich and promoted way above
their abilities and bragging about how great they are. I've never met so
many incompetent people in such senior positions anywhere in the world."
She adds: "It's absolutely racist. I had Filipino girls working for me
doing the same job as a European girl, and she's paid a quarter of the
wages. The people who do the real work are paid next to nothing, while these
incompetent managers pay themselves £40,000 a month."

With the exception of her, one theme unites every expat I speak to: their joy
at having staff to do the work that would clog their lives up Back Home.
Everyone, it seems, has a maid. The maids used to be predominantly Filipino,
but with the recession, Filipinos have been judged to be too expensive, so a
nice Ethiopian servant girl is the latest fashionable accessory.

It is an open secret that once you hire a maid, you have absolute power over
her. You take her passport – everyone does; you decide when to pay her, and
when – if ever – she can take a break; and you decide who she talks to. She
speaks no Arabic. She cannot escape.

In a Burger King, a Filipino girl tells me it is "terrifying" for
her to wander the malls in Dubai because Filipino maids or nannies always
sneak away from the family they are with and beg her for help. "They
say – 'Please, I am being held prisoner, they don't let me call home, they
make me work every waking hour seven days a week.' At first I would say – my
God, I will tell the consulate, where are you staying? But they never know
their address, and the consulate isn't interested. I avoid them now. I keep
thinking about a woman who told me she hadn't eaten any fruit in four years.
They think I have power because I can walk around on my own, but I'm

The only hostel for women in Dubai – a filthy private villa on the brink of
being repossessed – is filled with escaped maids. Mela Matari, a 25-year-old
Ethiopian woman with a drooping smile, tells me what happened to her – and
thousands like her. She was promised a paradise in the sands by an agency,
so she left her four year-old daughter at home and headed here to earn money
for a better future. "But they paid me half what they promised. I was
put with an Australian family – four children – and Madam made me work from
6am to 1am every day, with no day off. I was exhausted and pleaded for a
break, but they just shouted: 'You came here to work, not sleep!' Then one
day I just couldn't go on, and Madam beat me. She beat me with her fists and
kicked me. My ear still hurts. They wouldn't give me my wages: they said
they'd pay me at the end of the two years. What could I do? I didn't know
anybody here. I was terrified."

One day, after yet another beating, Mela ran out onto the streets, and asked –
in broken English – how to find the Ethiopian consulate. After walking for
two days, she found it, but they told her she had to get her passport back
from Madam. "Well, how could I?" she asks. She has been in this
hostel for six months. She has spoken to her daughter twice. "I lost my
country, I lost my daughter, I lost everything," she says.

As she says this, I remember a stray sentence I heard back at Double Decker. I
asked a British woman called Hermione Frayling what the best thing about
Dubai was. "Oh, the servant class!" she trilled. "You do
nothing. They'll do anything!"

VIII. The End of The World

The World is empty. It has been abandoned, its continents unfinished. Through
binoculars, I think I can glimpse Britain; this sceptred isle barren in the

Here, off the coast of Dubai, developers have been rebuilding the world. They
have constructed artificial islands in the shape of all planet Earth's land
masses, and they plan to sell each continent off to be built on. There were
rumours that the Beckhams would bid for Britain. But the people who work at
the nearby coast say they haven't seen anybody there for months now. "The
World is over," a South African suggests.

All over Dubai, crazy projects that were Under Construction are now Under
Collapse. They were building an air-conditioned beach here, with cooling
pipes running below the sand, so the super-rich didn't singe their toes on
their way from towel to sea.

The projects completed just before the global economy crashed look empty and
tattered. The Atlantis Hotel was launched last winter in a $20m
fin-de-siecle party attended by Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan and Lily
Allen. Sitting on its own fake island – shaped, of course, like a palm tree
– it looks like an immense upturned tooth in a faintly decaying mouth. It is
pink and turreted – the architecture of the pharaohs, as reimagined by
Zsa-Zsa Gabor. Its Grand Lobby is a monumental dome covered in glitterballs,
held up by eight monumental concrete palm trees. Standing in the middle,
there is a giant shining glass structure that looks like the intestines of
every guest who has ever stayed at the Atlantis. It is unexpectedly raining;
water is leaking from the roof, and tiles are falling off.

A South African PR girl shows me around its most coveted rooms, explaining
that this is "the greatest luxury offered in the world". We stroll
past shops selling £24m diamond rings around a hotel themed on the lost and
sunken continent of, yes, Atlantis. There are huge water tanks filled with
sharks, which poke around mock-abandoned castles and dumped submarines.
There are more than 1,500 rooms here, each with a sea view. The Neptune
suite has three floors, and – I gasp as I see it – it looks out directly on
to the vast shark tank. You lie on the bed, and the sharks stare in at you.
In Dubai, you can sleep with the fishes, and survive.

But even the luxury – reminiscent of a Bond villain's lair – is also being
abandoned. I check myself in for a few nights to the classiest hotel in
town, the Park Hyatt. It is the fashionistas' favourite hotel, where Elle
Macpherson and Tommy Hilfiger stay, a gorgeous, understated palace. It feels
empty. Whenever I eat, I am one of the only people in the restaurant. A
staff member tells me in a whisper: "It used to be full here. Now
there's hardly anyone." Rattling around, I feel like Jack Nicholson in
The Shining, the last man in an abandoned, haunted home.

The most famous hotel in Dubai – the proud icon of the city – is the Burj al
Arab hotel, sitting on the shore, shaped like a giant glass sailing boat. In
the lobby, I start chatting to a couple from London who work in the City.
They have been coming to Dubai for 10 years now, and they say they love it. "You
never know what you'll find here," he says. "On our last trip, at
the beginning of the holiday, our window looked out on the sea. By the end,
they'd built an entire island there."

My patience frayed by all this excess, I find myself snapping: doesn't the
omnipresent slave class bother you? I hope they misunderstood me, because
the woman replied: "That's what we come for! It's great, you can't do
anything for yourself!" Her husband chimes in: "When you go to the
toilet, they open the door, they turn on the tap – the only thing they don't
do is take it out for you when you have a piss!" And they both fall
about laughing.

IX. Taking on the Desert

Dubai is not just a city living beyond its financial means; it is living
beyond its ecological means. You stand on a manicured Dubai lawn and watch
the sprinklers spray water all around you. You see tourists flocking to swim
with dolphins. You wander into a mountain-sized freezer where they have
built a ski slope with real snow. And a voice at the back of your head
squeaks: this is the desert. This is the most water-stressed place on the
planet. How can this be happening? How is it possible?

The very earth is trying to repel Dubai, to dry it up and blow it away. The
new Tiger Woods Gold Course needs four million gallons of water to be pumped
on to its grounds every day, or it would simply shrivel and disappear on the
winds. The city is regularly washed over with dust-storms that fog up the
skies and turn the skyline into a blur. When the dust parts, heat burns
through. It cooks anything that is not kept constantly, artificially wet.

Dr Mohammed Raouf, the environmental director of the Gulf Research Centre,
sounds sombre as he sits in his Dubai office and warns: "This is a
desert area, and we are trying to defy its environment. It is very unwise.
If you take on the desert, you will lose."

Sheikh Maktoum built his showcase city in a place with no useable water. None.
There is no surface water, very little acquifer, and among the lowest
rainfall in the world. So Dubai drinks the sea. The Emirates' water is
stripped of salt in vast desalination plants around the Gulf – making it the
most expensive water on earth. It costs more than petrol to produce, and
belches vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as it goes. It's
the main reason why a resident of Dubai has the biggest average carbon
footprint of any human being – more than double that of an American.

If a recession turns into depression, Dr Raouf believes Dubai could run out of
water. "At the moment, we have financial reserves that cover bringing
so much water to the middle of the desert. But if we had lower revenues –
if, say, the world shifts to a source of energy other than oil..." he
shakes his head. "We will have a very big problem. Water is the main
source of life. It would be a catastrophe. Dubai only has enough water to
last us a week. There's almost no storage. We don't know what will happen if
our supplies falter. It would be hard to survive."

Global warming, he adds, makes the problem even worse. "We are building
all these artificial islands, but if the sea level rises, they will be gone,
and we will lose a lot. Developers keep saying it's all fine, they've taken
it into consideration, but I'm not so sure."

Is the Dubai government concerned about any of this? "There isn't much
interest in these problems," he says sadly. But just to stand still,
the average resident of Dubai needs three times more water than the average
human. In the looming century of water stresses and a transition away from
fossil fuels, Dubai is uniquely vulnerable.

I wanted to understand how the government of Dubai will react, so I decided to
look at how it has dealt with an environmental problem that already exists –
the pollution of its beaches. One woman – an American, working at one of the
big hotels – had written in a lot of online forums arguing that it was bad
and getting worse, so I called her to arrange a meeting. "I can't talk
to you," she said sternly. Not even if it's off the record? "I
can't talk to you." But I don't have to disclose your name... "You're
not listening. This phone is bugged. I can't talk to you," she snapped,
and hung up.

The next day I turned up at her office. "If you reveal my identity, I'll
be sent on the first plane out of this city," she said, before
beginning to nervously pace the shore with me. "It started like this.
We began to get complaints from people using the beach. The water looked and
smelled odd, and they were starting to get sick after going into it. So I
wrote to the ministers of health and tourism and expected to hear back
immediately – but there was nothing. Silence. I hand-delivered the letters.
Still nothing."

The water quality got worse and worse. The guests started to spot raw sewage,
condoms, and used sanitary towels floating in the sea. So the hotel ordered
its own water analyses from a professional company. "They told us it
was full of fecal matter and bacteria 'too numerous to count'. I had to
start telling guests not to go in the water, and since they'd come on a
beach holiday, as you can imagine, they were pretty pissed off." She
began to make angry posts on the expat discussion forums – and people began
to figure out what was happening. Dubai had expanded so fast its sewage
treatment facilities couldn't keep up. The sewage disposal trucks had to
queue for three or four days at the treatment plants – so instead, they were
simply drilling open the manholes and dumping the untreated sewage down
them, so it flowed straight to the sea.

Suddenly, it was an open secret – and the municipal authorities finally
acknowledged the problem. They said they would fine the truckers. But the
water quality didn't improve: it became black and stank. "It's got
chemicals in it. I don't know what they are. But this stuff is toxic."

She continued to complain – and started to receive anonymous phone calls. "Stop
embarassing Dubai, or your visa will be cancelled and you're out," they
said. She says: "The expats are terrified to talk about anything. One
critical comment in the newspapers and they deport you. So what am I
supposed to do? Now the water is worse than ever. People are getting really
sick. Eye infections, ear infections, stomach infections, rashes. Look at it!"
There is faeces floating on the beach, in the shadow of one of Dubai's most
famous hotels.

"What I learnt about Dubai is that the authorities don't give a toss
about the environment," she says, standing in the stench. "They're
pumping toxins into the sea, their main tourist attraction, for God's sake.
If there are environmental problems in the future, I can tell you now how
they will deal with them – deny it's happening, cover it up, and carry on
until it's a total disaster." As she speaks, a dust-storm blows around
us, as the desert tries, slowly, insistently, to take back its land.

X. Fake Plastic Trees

On my final night in the Dubai Disneyland, I stop off on my way to the
airport, at a Pizza Hut that sits at the side of one of the city's endless,
wide, gaping roads. It is identical to the one near my apartment in London
in every respect, even the vomit-coloured decor. My mind is whirring and
distracted. Perhaps Dubai disturbed me so much, I am thinking, because here,
the entire global supply chain is condensed. Many of my goods are made by
semi-enslaved populations desperate for a chance 2,000 miles away; is the
only difference that here, they are merely two miles away, and you sometimes
get to glimpse their faces? Dubai is Market Fundamentalist Globalisation in
One City.

I ask the Filipino girl behind the counter if she likes it here. "It's OK,"
she says cautiously. Really? I say. I can't stand it. She sighs with relief
and says: "This is the most terrible place! I hate it! I was here for
months before I realised – 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!" But she is
trapped, she says. She got into debt to come here, and she is stuck for
three years: an old story now. "I think Dubai is like an oasis. It is
an illusion, not real. You think you have seen water in the distance, but
you get close and you only get a mouthful of sand."
As she says this, another customer enters. She forces her face into the broad,
empty Dubai smile and says: "And how may I help you tonight, sir?"

Some names in this article have been changed.

Last edited: 08-Apr-09 02:51 PM

Posted on 04-08-09 3:41 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Posted on 04-08-09 3:59 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Posted on 04-08-09 5:05 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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WOW...Almost took a job in Dubai one point....!!

This line sums off: "I think Dubai is like an oasis. It is an illusion, not real. You think you have seen water in the distance, but you get close and you only get a mouthful of sand."


Posted on 04-08-09 6:14 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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yetro kasle padhcha... can anybody summarize it....

Posted on 04-08-09 8:53 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Wow, very nice article, very enlightening...... though took a long time to read it, but worth it. (just read the last paragraph of the article, it will summarize the whole point, gayo nepal)

How can people treat other people like slaves?? even if they made the workers 14 hrs a day, they should pay them accordingly and the amounts they were promised !!! I now have a different view on Dubai from what I had before reading this.

Thanx, sajhakovillian for bringing this important issue to light.

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VBS.TV this week features a short documentary on Dubai slave labor with investigative footage from the BBC's Ben Anderson.

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Slumdogs and Millionaires

Ben Anderson with four workers
Reporter Ben Anderson secretly filmed workers at their accommodation

It is a place in the sun for over a
million of us who holiday there every year. It boasts a host of luxury
apartments that has celebrities flocking. But behind the glitz and
glamour of Dubai often lies a murky world of exploitation and an
immigrant work force living on the breadline.

by the credit crunch, Dubai's economy has taken a turn for the worse
reliant as it is on tourism, financial services and real estate. For
those labouring to make the Dubai dream a reality, building the homes
for the rich and famous, are facing greater pressures than ever.

despite the slump, the market in would-be buyers is still healthy as
Panorama's Ben Anderson discovered. Posing as a potential buyer and
kitted out with a secret camera, he met with a company endorsed by
celebrities. Michael Owen is a paid ambassador along with Freddie
Flintoff and golfer Sam Torrance.

Sales representatives from The First Group assured our reporter that now was a great time to buy property.

She also allayed any concerns about the wellbeing of the company's construction workers.

A worker in a bedroom surrounded by bunk beds

a purchase that would see a £438,000 apartment rise to £1.33 million in
just ten years, the sales reps also said they believed the workers were
happy to be there. "It's much more difficult to earn some money in
Pakistan or India, so people actually save by living for free in proper
housing, eating for free in the canteen, using the transport and
sending something to their families."

Land of opportunity

is the promise of a land of opportunity that has brought an estimated
one million migrant workers to Dubai. Most come from areas of extreme
poverty in the Indian sub-continent where they are easy prey for
recruitment agents. Paying up to £2,000 pounds to make the trip, the
sum often has to be borrowed or family land sold in the belief that
within 18 months the debt can be repaid.

Instead, on
arriving in Dubai they are met with shanty town conditions hidden from
public view. In a country that penalises journalists reporting stories
which negatively reflect the economy or insult the government with
massive fines and in the past even imprisonment, Panorama had to
maintain a low profile.

In secret, Ben Anderson
followed a group of workers home from work. Employed by The First
Group's sub-contractors United Engineering Construction, they were
working on a development due to be finished in June ready for Michael
Owen to move in.

Back at the worker's camp Ben was
soon rumbled and asked to leave. Returning over the next few days he
finally managed to speak to some of the men living there on condition
of anonymity.

"We suffer greatly"

told a grim tale. None had been paid the money they were promised by
the recruitment agencies and many said they could not afford to eat
properly, living on a diet of mashed potatoes and lentils.

A worker asleep on contruction site
Six day shifts of 12 hours fetch as little as £120 a month

Average salaries are often no more than £120 a
month. This for a six-day week, often working up to 12 hour shifts. One
company paid approximately 30 pence an hour for overtime.

said that its minimum basic salary and overtime rate were significantly
higher and that employees only worked 12 hour days in exceptional

It said its workers were fully aware
of their proposed terms of employment before travelling to Dubai and
that it "wholly disapproved" of workers paying recruitment agents. It
also said that it only recruited through one agency in India, but the
workers we spoke to came from elsewhere.

The First Group said its own checks had confirmed that the pay and conditions at the camp were legal.

The camp is a world away from the penthouses these construction workers were building. But this is not an isolated example.

of Dubai's biggest new developments is The Jumeirah Golf Estates, which
will host the climax of the European Golf championship in November. The
main developer is Leisurecorp, which also owns the championship golf
course at Turnberry in Scotland, and has a stake in Troon. Jumeirah
Golf Estates has attracted an incredible array of celebrities who are
named as ambassadors on its website , including Jamie Oliver, Greg
Norman, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia.

Our reporter
once again followed workers back to their accommodation. This time they
were employed by one of Dubai's biggest construction firms Arabtec to
work on a part of the development that had been sold to a
sub-developer, but the picture was familiar.

After an
hour-long journey back to their gated and guarded labour camp, the men
agreed to speak to Panorama if their identities were kept secret for
fear of retribution.

Armed with a secret camera Ben
sneaked into the camp to be met with the smell of raw sewage. Sewage
had leaked out all over the camp, and workers had to create a network
stepping stones to cross it and get back to their accommodation blocks.
One toilet block had no water supply and the latrines were filled with
piles of raw faeces.


obtained by Panorama showed that a month previous to the programme's
visit, the Dubai authorities described the sewage situation at the site
critical. Arabtec had been fined 10,000 dirhams, approximately £2,000,
for allowing sewage to overflow into workers' accommodation.

Sky scrapers and cranes in Dubai
Over one million immigrants are believed to be working in Dubai

The authorities also reported that the camp was overcrowded with 7,500 labourers sharing 1,248 rooms with poor ventilation.

But with the downturn in the economy, the workers feel less able to complain.

Arabtec worker who earns just £140 a month for a six day week, told our
reporter that his family at home don't know about the reality of his
situation. "We have not told them because if we do, our wives and our
children will start crying, so we have told them we are doing well".

Dubai Municipal government said in a statement that regular inspections
are carried out of migrant workers' living conditions and fines levied
for substandard housing.

Arabtec said it did not
accept that there were unsanitary conditions at any of its camps'
toilets. It blamed the workers, saying, despite training, their
"standards of cleanliness and hygiene are not up to your or our
standards" and that the toilet block we had filmed in may have been a
block that was meant to be closed.

It now says it is
concerned about the situation, and despite originally blaming the
problems on a nearby sewage plant, admitted sewage in the camp was a
constant problem it was battling to resolve. They said the camp was a
temporary one and all workers will be moved out in eight months.

said that its wage levels were the Dubai norm and the basic working
week was 48 hours and overtime was paid for any hours over that.

a statement to Panorama, Jamie Oliver Enterprises said they were
disturbed by the issues raised: "When we started work with our partner
in Dubai, we were informed of their strict contractual guidelines which
are in place with sub-developers to protect the rights of migrant
workers and provide for good living and working conditions.

we are satisfied that the sub-contractors employed directly by our
partner to work on Jamie Oliver projects meet the regulatory
requirements and are fair, we have been given further assurances that
the claims made by employees working on a sub-developer's project will
be investigated."

Panorama has also been told that
Jamie Oliver now wants to come up with more accurate wording to
describe his business relationship with Jumeirah Golf Estates.

In the meantime, the celebrity chef's name has been removed from the list of ambassadors on the company's website.

Posted on 04-08-09 11:40 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Posted on 04-09-09 1:22 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Sometimes i feel like going back to Nepal...not even in KTM, go to my grandmother's village and be a farmer...lead a honest life.

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Lekhna payo bhandai ma yeti lamo lekhne...hami  kaam na bhako manchhe ho sabbai paaddai baasna lai
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Dubai (in Arabic: دبيّ‎, transliteration: Dubayy) is one of the seven emirates and the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is located along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. The Dubai Municipality is sometimes called Dubai city to distinguish it from the emirate.

Written accounts document the existence of the city for at least 150 years prior to the formation of the UAE. Dubai shares legal, political, military and economic functions with the other emirates within a federal
framework, although each emirate has jurisdiction over some functions
such as civic law enforcement and provision and upkeep of local
facilities. Dubai has the largest population and is the second largest
emirate by area, after Abu Dhabi.[5] Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the only two emirates to possess veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country's legislature.[6] Dubai has been ruled by the Al Maktoum dynasty since 1833. Dubai's current ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE.

The emirate's main revenues are from tourism, trade, real estate and financial services.[7] Revenues from petroleum and natural gas contribute less than 6% (2006)[8] of Dubai's US$ 37 billion economy (2005).[9]
Real estate and construction, on the other hand, contributed 22.6% to
the economy in 2005, before the current large-scale construction boom.[10] Dubai has attracted attention through its real estate projects [11] and sports events. This increased attention, coinciding with its emergence as a world business hub, has highlighted laborhuman rights issues concerning its largely foreign workforce.[12]



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[edit] Etymology

In the 1820s, Dubai was referred to as Al Wasl by British historians. However, few records pertaining to the cultural history of the UAE or its constituent emirates exist due to the region's oral traditions in recording and passing down folklore and myth. The linguistic origins of the word Dubai are also in dispute, as some believe it to have originated from Persian, while some believe that Arabic is the linguistic root of the word. According to Fedel Handhal, researcher in the history and culture of the UAE, the word Dubai may have come from the word Daba (a derivative of Yadub), which means to creep; the word may be a reference to the flow of Dubai Creek inland. [13]

[edit] History

The Al Ras district in Deira, Dubai in the 1960s.

Very little is known about pre-Islamic culture in the south-east Arabian peninsula, except that many ancient towns in the area were trading centers between the Eastern and Western worlds. The remnants of an ancient mangrove swamp, dated at 7,000 years, were discovered during the construction of sewer lines near Dubai Internet City.
The area had been covered with sand about 5,000 years ago as the
coastline retreated inland, becoming a part of the city's present
coastline.[14] Prior to Islam, the people in this region worshiped Bajir (or Bajar).[15] The Byzantine and Sassanian
empires constituted the great powers of the period, with the Sassanians
controlling much of the region. After the spread of Islam in the
region, the Umayyad Caliph, of the eastern Islamic world, invaded south-east Arabia and drove out the Sassanians. Excavations undertaken by the Dubai Museum in the region of Al-Jumayra (Jumeirah) indicate the existence of several artifacts from the Umayyad period.[16] The earliest recorded mention of Dubai is in 1095, in the "Book of Geography" by the Andalusian-Arab geographer Abu Abdullah al-Bakri. The Venetian pearl merchant Gaspero Balbi visited the area in 1580 and mentioned Dubai (Dibei) for its pearling industry.[16] Documented records of the town of Dubai exist only after 1799.[17]

In the early 19th century, the Al Abu Falasa clan (House of Al-Falasi) of Bani Yas clan established Dubai, which remained a dependent of Abu Dhabi until 1833.[18] On 8 January 1820, the sheikh of Dubai and other sheikhs in the region signed the "General Maritime Peace Treaty" with the British government.[14] However, in 1833, the Al Maktoum dynasty (also descendants of the House of Al-Falasi) of the Bani Yas tribe left the settlement of Abu Dhabi and took over Dubai from the Abu Fasala clan without resistance.[18]
Dubai came under the protection of the United Kingdom by the "Exclusive
Agreement" of 1892, with the latter agreeing to protect Dubai against
any attacks from the Ottoman Empire.[18] Two catastrophes struck the town during the 1800s. First, in 1841, a smallpox epidemic broke out in the Bur Dubai locality, forcing residents to relocate east to Deira. Then, in 1894, fire swept through Deira, burning down most homes.[19]
However, the town's geographical location continued to attract traders
and merchants from around the region. The emir of Dubai was keen to
attract foreign traders and lowered trade tax brackets, which lured
traders away from Sharjah and Bandar Lengeh, which were the region's main trade hubs at the time.[20][19]

Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1799, is the oldest existing building in Dubai.[21]

Dubai's geographical proximity to India made it an important
location. The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign
tradesmen, chiefly those from India, many of whom eventually settled in
the town. Dubai was known for its pearl exports until the 1930s.
However, Dubai's pearling industry was damaged irreparably by the
events of World War I, and later on by the Great Depression in the late 1920s. Consequently, the city witnessed a mass migration of people to other parts of the Persian Gulf.[14]
Since its inception, Dubai was constantly at odds with Abu Dhabi. In
1947, a border dispute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the northern
sector of their mutual border, escalated into war between the two
states.[22] Arbitration
by the British and the creation of a buffer frontier running south
eastwards from the coast at Ras Hasian resulted in a temporary
cessation of hostilities.[23]
However, border disputes between the emirates continued even after the
formation of the UAE; it was only in 1979 that a formal compromise was
reached that ended hostilities and border disputes between the two
Electricity, telephone services and an airport were established in
Dubai in the 1950s, when the British moved their local administrative
offices from Sharjah to Dubai.[25] In 1966 the town joined the newly independent country of Qatar to set up a new monetary unit, the Qatar/Dubai Riyal, after the devaluation of the Persian Gulf rupee.[17]
Oil was discovered in Dubai the same year, after which the town granted
concessions to international oil companies. The discovery of oil led to
a massive influx of foreign workers, mainly Indians and Pakistanis. As
a result, the population of the city from 1968 to 1975 grew by over
300%, by some estimates.[26]

On 2 December 1971 Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi and five other
emirates, formed the United Arab Emirates after former protector
Britain left the Persian Gulf in 1971.[27] In 1973, Dubai joined the other emirates to adopt a uniform currency: the UAE dirham. In the 1970s, Dubai continued to grow from revenues generated from oil and trade, even as the city saw an influx of Lebanese immigrants fleeing the civil war in Lebanon.[28] The Jebel Ali Free Zone, comprising the Jebel Ali
port (reputedly the world's largest man made port) was established in
1979, which provided foreign companies unrestricted import of labour
and export capital.[29]

The Persian Gulf War
of 1990 had a huge impact on the city. Economically, Dubai banks
experienced a massive withdrawal of funds due to uncertain political
conditions in the region. During the course of the 1990s, however, many
foreign trading communities — first from Kuwait, during the Persian Gulf War, and later from Bahrain, during the Shia unrest, moved their businesses to Dubai.[20] Dubai provided refueling bases to allied forces at the Jebel Ali free zone during the Persian Gulf War, and again, during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Large increases in oil prices after the Persian Gulf War encouraged Dubai to continue to focus on free trade and tourism.[30]
The success of the Jebel Ali free zone allowed the city to replicate
its model to develop clusters of new free zones, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Maritime City. The construction of Burj Al Arab,
the world's tallest freestanding hotel, as well as the creation of new
residential developments, were used to market Dubai for purposes of
tourism. Since 2002, the city has seen an increase in private real
estate investment in recreating Dubai's skyline[30] with such projects as The Palm Islands, The World IslandsBurj Dubai. However, robust economic growth in recent years has been accompanied by rising inflationConsumer Price Index)
which is attributed in part due to the near doubling of commercial and
residential rental costs, resulting in a substantial increase in the cost of living for residents.[31]
and rates (at 11.2% as of 2007 when measured against

[edit] Geography

City level map of Dubai

Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates and is roughly at sea level (16 m/52 ft above). The emirate of Dubai shares borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast, and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast. Hatta, a minor exclave of the emirate, is surrounded on three sides by Oman and by the emirates of Ajman (in the west) and Ras Al Khaimah (in the north). The Persian Gulf borders the western coast of the emirate. Dubai is positioned at 25°16′11″N 55°18′34″E / 25.2697°N 55.3095°E / 25.2697; 55.3095 and covers an area of 4,114 km² (1,588 mi²).

Dubai lies directly within the Arabian Desert. However, the topography
of Dubai is significantly different from that of the southern portion
of the UAE in that much of Dubai's landscape is highlighted by sandy
desert patterns, while gravel deserts dominate much of the southern
region of the country.[32] The sand consists mostly of crushed shell and coral and is fine, clean and white. East of the city, the salt-crusted coastal plains, known as sabkha, give way to a north-south running line of dunes. Farther east, the dunes grow larger and are tinged red with iron oxide.[26]
The flat sandy desert gives way to the Western Hajar Mountains, which
run alongside Dubai's border with Oman at Hatta. The Western Hajar
chain has an arid,
jagged and shattered landscape, whose mountains rise to about 1,300
meters in some places. Dubai has no natural river bodies or oases; however, Dubai does have a natural inlet, Dubai Creek, which has been dredged to make it deep enough for large vessels to pass through. Dubai also has multiple gorges and waterholes
which dot the base of the Western Al Hajar mountains. A vast sea of
sand dunes cover much of southern Dubai, which eventually lead into the
desert known as The Empty Quarter. Seismically, Dubai is in a very stable zone — the nearest seismic fault line, the Zargos Fault, is 120 km from the UAE and is unlikely to have any seismic impact on Dubai.[33] Experts also predict that the possibility of a tsunami in the region is also minimal because the Persian Gulf waters are not deep enough to trigger a tsunami.[33]

The sandy desert surrounding the city supports wild grasses and occasional date palm trees. Desert hyacinthssabkha plains east of the city, while acacia and ghaf
trees grow in the flat plains within the proximity of the Western Al
Hajar mountains. Several indigenous trees such as the date palm and neem as well as imported trees like the eucalypts grow in Dubai's natural parks. The houbara bustard, striped hyena, caracal, desert fox, falcon and Arabian oryx are common in Dubai's desert. Dubai is on the migration path between Europe,
Asia and Africa, and more than 320 migratory birds pass through the
emirate in spring and autumn. The waters of Dubai are home to more than
300 species of fish, including the hammour.
grow in the

Dubai Creek runs northeast-southwest through the city. The eastern section of the city forms the locality of Deira and is flanked by the emirate of Sharjah in the east and the town of Al Aweer in the south. The Dubai International Airport is located south of Deira, while the Palm Deira is located north of Deira in the Persian Gulf. Much of Dubai's real estate boom is concentrated to the west of the Dubai Creek, on the Jumeirah coastal belt. Port Rashid, Jebel Ali, Burj Al Arab, the Palm Jumeirah and theme based free zone clusters such as Business Bay are all located in this section. Five main routes — E 11 (Sheikh Zayed Road), E 311 (Emirates Road), E 44 (Dubai-Hatta Highway), E 77 (Dubai-Al Habab Road) and E 66
(Oud Metha Road) — run through Dubai, connecting the city to other
towns and emirates. Additionally, several important intra-city routes,
such as D 89D 85 (Baniyas Road), D 75 (Sheikh Rashid Road), D 73 (Al Dhiyafa Road), D 94 (Jumeirah Road) and D 92
(Al Khaleej/Al Wasl Road) connect the various localities in the city.
The eastern and western sections of the city are connected by Al Maktoum Bridge, Al Garhoud Bridge, Al Shindagha Tunnel, Business Bay Crossing and Floating Bridge.
(Al Maktoum Road/Airport Road),

[edit] Climate

Dubai has a hot and, at times, humid climate (drier during extreme heat) with many months recording temperatures of over 40 Â°C (104 Â°F).
The highest recorded temperature in Dubai is 47.3 Â°C (117.1 Â°F), and
the lowest recorded temperature is 7 Â°C (45 Â°F). Rainfall is generally
light, with a mean of about 150 millimetres (6 in) per year;
precipitation is usually centered around the months of January,
February and March. However, heavy rain is not uncommon in Dubai during
the winter months and January 2008 saw a record of 120 mm (or 5") of
rain falling in just 24 hours, [34] The mean humidity in Dubai is approximately 60% and is higher during the cooler winter months.

[hide] Weather averages for Dubai 
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) 24.0












Average low °C (°F) 14.3












Precipitation mm (inches) 15.6












Source: Dubai Meteorological Office[35] 2008

[edit] Governance and politics

Dubai Municipality building across the creek in Deira

Dubai has approximately 250,000 labourers, mostly South Asian, working for US$ 10 a day on real estate development projects such as the Dubai Marina.

Dubai's government operates within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, and has been ruled by the Al Maktoum family since 1833. The current ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is also the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and member of the Supreme Council of the Union (SCU). Dubai appoints 8 members in two-term periods to the Federal National Council (FNC) of the UAE, the supreme federal legislative body.[36] The Dubai Municipality (DM) was established by the then ruler of Dubai, Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum in 1954 for purposes of city planning, citizen services and upkeep of local facilities.[37] DM is chaired by Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum,
deputy ruler of Dubai and comprises several departments such as the
Roads Department, Planning and Survey Department, Environment and
Public Health Department and Financial Affairs Department. In 2001,
Dubai Municipality embarked on an e-Government project with the intention of providing 40 of its city services through its web portal
(Dubai.ae). Thirteen such services were launched by October 2001, while
several other services were expected to be operational in the future.

Dubai and Ras al Khaimah are the only emirates that do not conform to the federal judicial system
of the United Arab Emirates. The emirate's judicial courts comprise the
Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal, and the Court of
Cassation. The Court of First Instance consists of the Civil court,
which hears all civil claims, the Criminal Court, which hears claims
originating from police complaints, and Sharia Court, which is responsible for matters between Muslims. Non-Muslims do not appear before the Sharia Court. The Court of Cassation is the apex court of the emirate and only hears disputes on matters of law.[38] The Dubai Police Force, founded in 1956 in the locality of Naif, has law enforcement jurisdiction
over the emirate; the force is under direct command of Mohammed bin
Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai. Dubai Municipality is also in charge
of the city's sanitation and sewage infrastructure. The city's rapid
growth has resulted in its limited sewage treatment infrastructure
being stretched to its limits.[39]

Article 25 of the Constitution of the UAE provides for the equitable treatment of persons with regard to race, nationality, religious beliefs or social status. However, many of Dubai's 250,000 foreign laborers live in conditions described by Human Rights Watch as being "less than human."[40][41][42][43] NPR
reports that workers "typically live eight to a room, sending home a
portion of their salary to their families, whom they don't see for
years at a time." On 21 March 2006, workers at the construction site of Burj Dubai, upset over bus timings and working conditions, rioted: damaging cars, offices, computers, and construction tools.[44][45][46]
The global financial crisis has caused the working class of Dubai to be
especially hard hit, with many workers not being paid but also being
unable to leave the country. [47]

Judicial rulings in Dubai with regard to foreign nationals were
brought to light by the alleged attempts to cover up information on the
rape of Alexandre Robert, a 15 year old French-Swiss national, by three
locals, one of whom was HIV positive[48]
and by the recent mass imprisonment of migrant laborers, most of whom
were from India, on account of their protests against poor wages and
living conditions.[49] Prostitution,
though illegal by law, is conspicuously present in the emirate because
of an economy that is largely based on tourism and trade. Research
conducted by the American Center for International Policy Studies
(AMCIPS) found that RussianEthiopian
women are the most common prostitutes, as well as women from some
African countries, while Indian prostitutes are part of a well
organized trans-Oceanic prostitution network.[50] A 2007 PBSDubai: Night Secrets
reported that prostitution in clubs is tolerated by authorities and
many foreign women work there without being coerced, attracted by the
and documentary entitled

[edit] Demographics

Year Population
18221 1,200 [54]
19001 10,000 [55]
19301 20,000 [56]
19401 38,000 [54]
19541 20,000 [54]
19601 40,000 [57]
1968 58,971 [58]
1975 183,000 [59]
1985 370,800 [60]
1995 674,000 [60]
2005 1,204,000
1 The town of Dubai first conducted a
census in 1968. All population figures in this table prior to 1968 are
estimates obtained from various sources.

The Jumeirah Mosque in Jumeirah, Dubai.

According to the census
conducted by the Statistics Center of Dubai, the population of the
emirate was 1,422,000 as of 2006, which included 1,073,000 males and
349,000 females.[61] As of 1998, 17% of the population of the emirate was made up of UAE nationals. Approximately 85% of the expatriate population (and 71% of the emirate's total population) was Asian, chiefly Indian (51%), Pakistani (15%), Bangladeshi (10%) and others (10%).[62] A quarter of the population however reportedly traces their origins to neighboring Iran.[63] In addition, 16% of the population (or 288,000 persons) lived in collective labour accommodation were not identified by ethnicity or nationality, but were thought to be primarily Asian.[64] The median age in the emirate was about 27 years. The crude birth rate, as of 2005, was 13.6%, while the crude death rate was about 1%.[65]

Although Arabic is the official language of Dubai, Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Persian, Sindhi, Tagalog, Bengali and other languages are spoken in Dubai. English is the lingua franca of the city and is widely spoken.

Article 7 of the UAE's Provisional Constitution declares Islam the official state religion of the UAE. The government subsidizes almost 95 percent of mosques and employs all Imams; approximately 5 percent of mosques are entirely private, and several large mosques have large private endowments.[66]

Dubai has large Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh
and other religious communities. Non-Muslim groups can own their own
houses of worship, where they can practice their religion freely, by
requesting a land grant and permission to build a compound. Groups that
do not have their own buildings must use the facilities of other
religious organisations or worship in private homes[67]. Non-Muslim religious groups are permitted to openly advertise group functions; however, proselytizing or distributing religious literature is strictly prohibited under penalty of criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and deportation for engaging in behaviour offensive to Islam.[66]

[edit] Economy

The Burj Al Arab is the world's second tallest hotel.

The Dubai Marina, a residential district, is the world's second largest man-made marina.

Dubai's gross domestic product as of 2005 was US$37 billion.[9] Although Dubai's economy was built on the back of the oil industry,[68] revenues from oil and natural gas currently account for less than 6% of the emirate's revenues.[8] It is estimated that Dubai produces 240,000 barrels
of oil a day and substantial quantities of gas from offshore fields.
The emirate's share in UAE's gas revenues is about 2%. Dubai's oil
reserves have diminished significantly and are expected to be exhausted
in 20 years.[69] Real Estate and Construction[10] Trade (16%), entrepôt (15%) and financial services (11%) are the largest contributors to Dubai's economy. [70] Dubai's top re-exporting countries include Iran (US$ 790 million), India (US$ 204 million) and Saudi Arabia (US$ 194 million). The emirate's top importing countries are Japan (US$ 1.5 billion), China (US$US$ 1.4 billion).[7]
(22.6%), 1.4 billion) and the United States (

Historically, Dubai and its twin across the Dubai creek, Deira (independent of Dubai City at that time), became important ports of call for Western manufacturers.
Most of the new city's banking and financial centres were headquartered
in the port area. Dubai maintained its importance as a trade route
through the 1970s and 1980s. Dubai has a free trade in gold and until the 1990s, was the hub of a "brisk smuggling trade"[71] of gold ingots to India, where gold import was restricted.

Dubai's Jebel Ali
port, constructed in the 1970s, has the largest man-made harbour in the
world and was ranked eighth globally for the volume of container
traffic it supports [72]. Dubai is also developing as a hub for service industries such as IT and finance, with the establishment of industry-specific free zones throughout the city. Dubai Internet City, combined with Dubai Media City
as part of TECOM (Dubai Technology, Electronic Commerce and Media Free
Zone Authority) is one such enclave whose members include IT firms such
as EMC Corporation, Oracle Corporation, Microsoft, and IBM, and media organisations such as MBC, CNN, BBC, Reuters, Sky News and AP.

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) was established in March 2000 as a secondary market for trading securities and bonds, both local and foreign. As of fourth quarter 2006, its trading volume stood at about 400 billion shares, worth US$ 95 billion in total. The DFM had a market capitalisation of about US$ 87 billion.[65]real estate more valuable, resulting in the property appreciation from 2004–2006[citation needed].
A longer-term assessment, however, shows property depreciation: certain
properties lost 64% of their value from 2001 to November 2008.[73] Large scale real estate development projects have led to the construction of some of the tallest skyscrapers and largest projects in the world such as the Emirates Towers, the Burj Dubai, the Palm Islands and the world's second tallest, and most expensive hotel, the Burj Al Arab.[74]

The government's decision to diversify from a trade-based, but
oil-reliant, economy to one that is service and tourism-oriented has

Dubai real estate market took a major drawback in the recent months, due to the slowing economic climate.[75]global economic crisis taking a heavy toll on property values, construction and employment.[76]
Mohammed al-Abbar council of the sheik told the international press in
December 2008 that Emaar had credits of US$ 70 billions and the state
of Dubai additional US$ 10 billions while holding estimated 350 billion
in real estate assets. By early 2009, the situation had worsened with

As of February 2009 Dubai's foreign debt is estimated at apprx. USD
100 billion, leaving each of the emirate's 250,000 UAE nationals
responsible for 400,000 USD in foreign debt each.

[edit] Transportation

Abras are the traditional mode of transport between Deira and Bur Dubai.

Dubai International Airport (IATA: DXB), the hub for Emirates Airline,
services the city of Dubai and other emirates in the country. The
airport served a total of over 37 million passengers and handled over
1.8 million tonnes of cargo in 2008.[77] The Dubai International Airport ranked 13th among international airports for total cargo traffic in 2007.[78] A third terminal and a new concourse opened in October 2008, serving Emirates flights, and is the single largest building in the world by floor space.[79] The new terminal will be dedicated to Emirates Airline and will fully support the new Airbus A380. The development of Dubai World Central International Airport,
currently under construction in Jebel Ali, was announced in 2004. The
first phase is expected to be completed by 2008, and once operational
the new airport will host foreign airlines and emirates with an
exclusive terminal for them.[80]

Dubai has a large bus
system that services 69 routes and transported over about 90 million
people in 2006. The Road and Transport Authority (RTA) announced in
2006 that an additional 620 new buses will be added to its fleet of 170
double decker buses.[81] Although the main mode of transportation in Dubai is by private vehicle, Dubai also has an extensive taxi system.

A $3.89 billion Dubai Metro
project is under construction for the emirate. The Metro system is
expected to be partially operational by 2009 and fully operational by
2012. The metro will comprise four lines: the Green Line from Al
Rashidiya to the main city center and the Red Line from the airport to Jebel Ali.
It also has a blue and a purple line The Dubai Metro (Green and Blue
Lines) will have 70 kilometers of track and 43 stations, 33 above
ground and ten underground.[82] One of the more traditional methods of getting across Bur Dubai to Deira is through abras, small boats that ferry passengers across the Dubai Creek, between abra stations in Bastakiya and Baniyas Road.

In July 2007, the Salik road toll network was installed on Sheikh Zayed Road and on Al Garhoud bridge; the tolling stations are fully automated and collect toll of AED 4 (US$ 1.08) per transit.

[edit] Culture

A traditional souk in Deira

The Deira Clock Tower is an important landmark in the city

Dubai has a diverse and multicultural society.[62] The city's cultural imprint as a small, ethnically homogenous pearling community was changed with the arrival of other ethnic groups and nationals — first by the Iranians in the early 1900s, and later by Indians and Pakistanis in the 1960s. Despite the diversity of the population, only minor and infrequent episodes of ethnic tensions, primarily between expatriates, have been reported in the city. Major holidays in Dubai include Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, and National Day (2 December), which marks the formation of the United Arab Emirates. Annual entertainment events such as the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) and Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) attract over 4 million visitors from across the region and generate revenues in excess of US$ one billion [83]. Large shopping malls in the city, such as Deira City Centre, BurJuman, Mall of the Emirates and Ibn Battuta Mall as well as traditional souks attract shoppers from the region.

The diversity of cuisine
in Dubai is a reflection of the cosmopolitan nature of the society.
Arab food is very popular and is available everywhere in the city, from
the small shawarma diners in Deira and Al Karama to the upscale restaurants in Dubai's many hotels. Fast food, South Asian, Chinese cuisines are also very popular and are widely available. The sale and consumption of pork, though not illegal, is regulated and is sold only to non-Muslims, in designated areas.[84] Similarly, the sale of alcoholic beverages is regulated. A liquor permit is required to purchase alcohol; however, alcohol is available in bars and restaurants within four or five star hotels. [85] Shisha and qahwa boutiques are also popular in Dubai.

Hollywood and Bollywood movies are popular in Dubai. The city hosts the annual Dubai International Film Festival, which attracts celebrities from Arab and International cinema. Dubai has an active music scene, with musicians Amr Diab, Diana Haddad, Tarkan, Aerosmith, Santana, Elton John, Pink, Shakira, Celine Dion and Phil Collins having performed in the city. Kylie Minogue was paid 4.4 million dollars to perform at the opening of the Atlantis resort on November 20, 2008. The Dubai Desert Rock Festival is also another major festival consisting of Heavy metal and rock artists.

Football and cricket are the most popular sports in Dubai. Five teams — Al Wasl, Al-Shabab, Al-Ahli, Al Nasr and Hatta — represent Dubai in UAE League football. Current champions Al-Wasl have the second-most number of championships in the UAE League, after Al Ain. Cricket is followed by Dubai's large South Asian community and in 2005, the International Cricket Council (ICC) moved its headquarters from London to Dubai. The city has hosted several India-Pakistan matches and two new grass grounds are being developed in Dubai Sports City. Dubai also hosts both the annual Dubai Tennis Championships and The Legends Rock Dubai tennis tournaments, as well as the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament, all of which attract sports stars from around the world. The Dubai World Cup, a thoroughbred horse race, is held annually at the Nad Al Sheba Racecourse.

However, In violation of WTA policy, Dubai refused to grant a visa for Israeli tennis star Shahar Pe'er to compete in the Sony Ericsson World Tennis Association Tour.[86]

Dubai is known for its nightlife. Clubs and bars are found mostly in hotels due to the liquor laws. The New York Times listed Dubai as its travel choice for partying in 2008.[87]

Culture is frequently subject to censorship in Dubai. Homosexuality, drugs, and the theory of evolution are generally considered taboo.[88] Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species is banned[88], while in 2009 the International Festival of Literature in Dubai retracted an invitation it had sent to author Geraldine Bedell to present her book The Gulf Between Us due to the presence of a gay sheikh as a minor character.[88]

[edit] Education

The campus of the American University in Dubai

The school system in Dubai does not differ from that of the United Arab Emirates. As of 2006, there are 88 public schools run by the Ministry of Education that serve Emiratis and expatriate Arabs as well as 132 private schools.[61] The medium of instruction in public schools is Arabic with emphasis on English as a second language, while most of the private schools
use English as their medium of instruction. Most private schools cater
to one or more expatriate communities. Delhi Private School, Our Own English High School, the Dubai Modern High School, and [[The Indian High School, Dubai]] offer either a CBSE or an ICSE Indian syllabus. Similarly, there are also several reputable Pakistani schools offering FBISE
curriculum for expatriate children. Dubai English Speaking School,
Jumeirah Primary School, Jebel Ali Primary School, the Cambridge High
School (or Cambridge International School), Jumeirah English Speaking
School, King's School and the Horizon School all offer British primary
education up to the age of eleven. Dubai British School, Dubai College, English College Dubai, Jumeirah English Speaking School, Jumeirah College and St. Mary's Catholic High School are all British eleven-to-eighteen secondary schools which offer GCSE and A-Levels. Emirates International SchoolIGCSE and A-Levels. Wellington International School, which caters education from 4-18, offers IGCSE and A-Levels. Deira International School also offers the IB program including the IGCSE program. Dubai also has several schools with an American curriculum such as Dubai American Academy, American School of Dubai and the Universal American School of Duabi.

along with the Cambridge High School provides full student education up
to the age of 18, this is an International school and offers

The Ministry of Education of the United Arab Emirates is responsible
for school's accreditation. The Dubai Education Council was established
in July 2005 to develop the education sector in Dubai.[89]
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) was established in
2006 to develop education and human resource sectors in Dubai, and
license educational institutes.[90]

Approximately 10% of the population has university or postgraduate degrees. Many expatriates tend to send their children back to their home country or to Western countries for university education and to India
for technology studies. However, a sizable number of foreign accredited
universities have been set up in the city over the last ten years. Some
of these universities include Michigan State University Dubai (MSU Dubai), the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani - Dubai(BITS Pilani), Heriot-Watt University Dubai, American University in Dubai (AUD), the American College of Dubai, Mahatma Gandhi University (Off-Campus Centre), SP Jain Center Of Management, University of Wollongong in Dubai, Institute of Management Technology and MAHE Manipal. In 2004, the Dubai School of Government in collaboration with Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Medical School Dubai Center
(HMSDC) were established in Dubai. RIT Dubai is a satellite campus of
Rochester Institute of Technology in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The
plans for the college, which will be located in the Dubai Silicon
Oasis, was announced on 5 December 2007. The campus is planned to open
in Fall 2008. In 2009, it is planned that there will be a full-time
graduate program offered, and in 2010, a full-time undergraduate
program. By 2019, RIT plans to expand the campus to 1,000,000 square
feet (93,000 m²), accepting around 4,000 students.

The Dubai Public Libraries is the public library system serving Dubai.

[edit] Media

Etisalat Tower 2, on Sheikh Zayed Road. Etisalat held a virtual monopoly over telecommunications in Dubai prior to 2006.[91]

Dubai has a well established network of print, radio, television and electronic media which service the city. Multiple international channels available through cable, while satellite, radio and local channels are provided via the Arabian Radio Network and Dubai Media Incorporated systems. Many international news agencies such as Reuters, APTN, Bloomberg and MBC as well as network news channels operated out of Dubai Media CityDubai Internet City. Additionally, several local network television channels such as Dubai One (formerly Channel 33), EDTV and Dubai TV provide programming in English and Arabic. Dubai-based FM stations
such as Dubai FM (93.9), Dubai92 (92.0), Al Khaleejia (100.9) and Hit
FM (96.7) provide programming in English, Arabic and South Asian
languages. Dubai is also the headquarters for several print media outlets. Al Khaleej, Al Bayan and Al Ittihad are the city's largest circulating Arabic language newspapers[92], while Gulf News and Khaleej Times[93] are the largest circulating English newspapers. Online AME Info is the leading business news site, publishing articles and video reports in English and Arabic.

Etisalat, the government owned telecommunications provider, held a virtual monopoly
over telecommunication services in Dubai prior to the establishment of
other, smaller telecommunications companies such as Emirates Integrated
Telecommunications Company (EITC — better known as Du) in 2006. Internet was introduced into the UAE (and therefore Dubai) in 1995. The current network is supported by a bandwidth of 6 GB, with 50,000 dialup and 150,000 broadband ports. Dubai houses two of four DNS data centers in the country (DXBNIC1, DXBNIC2)[94]. Internet content is regulated in Dubai. Etisalat uses a proxy server to filter internet content that is deemed to be inconsistent with the values of the country, that provides information on bypassing the proxy, dating, gay and lesbian networks, sites pertaining to the Bahá'í faith, and sites originating from Israel.
Emirates Media and Internet (a division of Etisalat) notes that as of
2002, 76% of internet users are male. About 60% of internet users were Asian, while 25% of users were Arab. Dubai enacted an Electronic Transactions and Commerce Law in 2002 which deals with digital signatures and electronic registers. It prohibits Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from disclosing information gathered in providing services. The penal code also contains some provisions; however, it does not address cyber crime or data protection.[95]

[edit] Sister cities

Dubai has 15 sister cities, and most of the twinning agreements have been done post-2002.[96]

[edit] References

  1. ^ "UAE Constitution". Helplinelaw.com. http://www.helplinelaw.com/law/uae/constitution/constitution01.php. Retrieved on 2008-07-21. 
  2. ^ Area of "Dubai emirate", includes artificial islands.
  3. ^ "Dubai: Profile of geographical entity including name variants. World Gazetteer.
  4. ^ "Dubai Metropolitan Statistical Area". http://www.gstudynet.org/gum/UAE/Dubai2005.htm. Retrieved on 2009-04-07. 
  5. ^ United Arab Emirates: metropolitan areas
  6. ^ The Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. D Long, B Reich. p.157
  7. ^ a b An Economic Profile of Dubai Dubai Healthcare City. 2000
  8. ^ a b Oil share dips in Dubai GDP AMEInfo (9 June 2007) Retrieved on 15 October 2007.
  9. ^ a b Dubai economy set to treble by 2015ArabianBusiness.com (3 February 2007) Retrieved on 15 October 2007.
  10. ^ a b "Dubai diversifies out of oil". AMEInfo. 2005-09-07. http://www.ameinfo.com/66981.html. Retrieved on 2008-08-12. 
  11. ^ Dubai map with upcoming freehold developments
  12. ^ Mike Davis (2006) Fear and Money in Dubai, New Left Review 41, pp. 47-68
  13. ^ How did Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other cities get their names? Experts reveal all. UAEInteract.com. 10 March 2007
  14. ^ a b c History and Traditions of the UAE
  15. ^ History and Background of the UAE
  16. ^ a b The Coming of Islam and the Islamic Period in the UAE. King, Geoffrey R.
  17. ^ a b Economic and Environmental Impacts of tourism on Dubai and Hawaii. McEachern, Nadeau, et al
  18. ^ a b c Country Profile: United Arab Emirates. United States Library of Congress
  19. ^ a b Modernity and tradition in Dubai architecture. Karim, Luiza
  21. ^ "The old...turned new". Gulf News. 2001-10-25. http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/01/10/25/30288.html. Retrieved on 2008-03-15. 
  22. ^ The UAE: Internal Boundaries And The Boundary With Oman. Archived Editions. Walker, J.
  23. ^ The Middle East and North Africa. Schofield, C. p 175
  24. ^ Dubai. Carter, T and Dunston, L. Lonely Planet Publications
  25. ^ Dubai City. Melamid, Alexander. Jul 1989
  26. ^ a b Historic population statistics
  27. ^ "Six Persian Gulf Emirates Agree to a Federation". New York Times. Jul 19, 1971. pg. 4
  28. ^ "Beirut Showing Signs of Recovery From Wounds of War". New York Times. 26 May 1977. pg.2
  29. ^ The United Arab Emirates: Economic Vibrancy and US Interests. Asian Affairs. Peterson, JE. July 2002, Vol 34, Issue 2.
  30. ^ a b Dubai Focus
  31. ^ Robust growth poses threat of inflation to high-flying Dubai. Kuwait Times. Mar. 8, 2007
  32. ^ Environmental Development and Protection in the UAE. Aspinall, Simon
  33. ^ a b Earthquake risk in Dubai 'lower than that of London']. UAEInteract.com
  34. ^ Average mean rainfall for Dubai. UAEInteract.com
  35. ^ "Climate". Dubai Meteorological Office. http://www.dubaiairport.com/dubaimet/MET/Climate.aspx. Retrieved on 2008-12-20. 
  36. ^ Executive and Legislative Branches. US Library of Congress
  37. ^ Organizational Chart. Dubai Municipality
  38. ^ The UAE Court System. Consulate of the United States.
  39. ^ Raw sewage threat to booming Dubai
  40. ^ Human Rights Watch - Building Towers, Cheating Workers: Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates
  41. ^ Human
    Rights Watch - Building Towers, Cheating Workers: Exploitation of
    Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates - PDF
  42. ^ UAE to Allow Construction Unions
  43. ^ Dubai Fire Investigation Launched
  44. ^ Labour unrest hampers Burj Dubai work Khaleej Times (AP report), 22 March 2006
  45. ^ "Burj Dubai workers who protested may be sued" Khaleej Times, 24 March 2006
  46. ^ LABOUR IN THE UAE Gulf News articles on Labour Law in the UAE, protests, etc
  47. ^ [http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/the-dark-side-of-dubai-1664368.html "The dark side of Dubai"
  48. ^ In Rape Case, a French Youth Takes On Dubai. New York Times. Nov 1, 2007
  49. ^ Indian workers strike for better deal. Times of India. Times Network. Nov. 2, 2007
  50. ^ Stoenescu, Dan. "Globalising Prostitution in the Middle East". American Center For International Policy Studies. http://www.amcips.org/PDF_books/BookIV22.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-05-10. 
  51. ^ Mimi Chakarova. Dubai: Night Secrets, PBS Frontline, 13 September 2007
  52. ^ New York Times - Fearful of Restive Foreign Labor, Dubai Eyes Reforms
  53. ^ Middle East Times - Strike rages on at world's tallest tower in Dubai
  54. ^ a b c Historic population statistics
  55. ^ Historic population statistics
  56. ^ Historic population statistics
  57. ^ Historic population statistics
  58. ^ Historic population statistics
  59. ^ Historic population statistics
  60. ^ a b Historic population statistics
  61. ^ a b Dubai in Figures 2006. Government of Dubai. Statistical Center
  62. ^ a b "Country and Metropolitan Stats in Brief. MPI Data Hub
  63. ^ "Young Iranians Follow Dreams to Dubai" The New York Times, by HASSAN M. FATTAH. Published: 4 December 2005
  64. ^ The Changing Demographics of the UAE
  65. ^ a b Basic Vital Statistical Indicators - Emirate of Dubai
  66. ^ a b Country Profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE). United States Library of Congress
  67. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2007 - United Arab Emirates
  68. ^ "Dubai - Overview:", USAToday.com, retrieved 22 July 2007
  69. ^ "UAE Oil and Gas"
  70. ^ Prospects of Dubai Economic Sectors. Dubai Chamber of Commerce. 2003
  71. ^ "Dubayy". Encyclopedia Britannica. 2008
  72. ^ World Port Rankings - 2006.American Association of Port Authorities. 2006
  73. ^ "Dubai's Palm Jumeirah sees prices fall as crunch moves in". The Daily Telegraph. 2008-11-20. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/constructionandproperty/3489393/Dubais-Palm-Jumeirah-sees-prices-fall-as-crunch-moves-in.html. Retrieved on 2008-11-20. 
  74. ^ World's Tallest Hotel Opens Its Doors.
  75. ^ http://www.propertywire.com/news/middle-east/job-losses-property-decline-dubai-200812032193.html
  76. ^ "Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down" article by Robert F. Worth in The New York Times February 11, 2009
  77. ^ "Dubai International - world's fastest growing airport in 2007". AMEInfo. 2008-01-09. http://www.ameinfo.com/143493.html. Retrieved on 2008-01-10. 
  78. ^ World's Busiest Airports - Preliminary Rankings (PDF). Airports Council International
  79. ^ "Dubai International Airport maintains double-digit growth in the first half of 2007". Dubai International Airport. 2007-07-05. http://www.dubaiairport.com/DIA/English/TopMenu/News+and+Press/Arab+News/Dubai+International+Airport+maintains+double-digit+growth+in+the+first+half+of+2007.htm. Retrieved on 2008-01-10. 
  80. ^ Emirates for corridor between DIA and new mega airport Gulf News (27 October 2007). Retrieved on 3 November 2007.
  81. ^ Fleet of new buses for Dubai 7days 2007
  82. ^ Dubai Municipality signs Dhs12.45 billion Metro contract. Dubai Metro. 29 May 2005
  83. ^ Tourism and shopping in the UAE: Spending an extra day". Edwards Economic Research FZ
  84. ^ Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards. GAIN Report. United States Department of Agriculture
  85. ^ Welcome to Dubai New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
  86. ^ UAE denies visa to Israeli tennis player,[1] Feb. 15, 2009, CNN
  87. ^ Clubs Bloom in the Desert. New York Times. 9 December 2007
  88. ^ a b c Geraldine Bedell's novel banned in Dubai because of gay character
  89. ^ HH Sheikh Mohammed issues decree establishing Dubai Education Council, DEC, 14 July 2005
  90. ^ KHDA Q&A, KHDA, 2006
  91. ^ United Arab Emirates. OpenNet Interactive. 2008
  92. ^ Largest-Circulation Arabic Newspapers. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Arab Reform Bulletin, December 2004
  93. ^ We are the leading newspaper. Gulf News. September 2006
  94. ^ UAEnic at a glance. Sultan Al Shamsi
  95. ^ Silenced - United Arab Emirates. Privacy International.
  96. ^ Twinning Cities Agreements UAE Official Website
  97. ^ Dubai, Detroit ink sister-city accord

[edit] External links

Find more about Dubai on Wikipedia's sister projects:

Definitions from Wiktionary

Textbooks from Wikibooks
Quotations from Wikiquote
Source texts from Wikisource
Images and media from Commons
News stories from Wikinews

Learning resources from Wikiversity

Coordinates: 25°12′N 55°18′E / 25.2°N 55.3°E / 25.2; 55.3


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