Dubai? What can you say about this place that nobody has said before? “I love it?”?
That would be a lie… or two. First because in spite of being a very interesting place, it is defenitely NOT our dreamed place to live and second, because actually somebody told us today that he loved Dubai! He was one of the employees at the Dubai Museum, but as an old India who still lives here after 37 years, I will take it as a genuine comment, and not just as a tourist cheap chat.
This is a city of huge contrasts. A city that is proud of offering everything while having almost nothing. A land where almost nothing grows and most of the products are imported. Lucky for them, the one thing they do have is oil and with it they can get all they need, and boy they do. The tallest building on Earth, the largest shopping mall (next to the building), the only 7-stars hotel in the world, two artificial palms on the sea and as they proudly indicate at the airport upon arrival, more than 500 Guiness records and over 900 skyscrappers! All built in 20 years!!! Here you can swim on the beach or slide on the snow 4 seasons a year (actually, Dubai has only 2 seasons but you know what I mean), enjoy delicious food from 5 continents in a single building and get anything you want providing that you have 3 things: a big large fat wallet.
Dubai offers everything and they offer it directly to your door, no matter day or night. You can order a full catered dinner or a bag of ice cubes, it is up to your urges. We saw a guy from a shop jump on his bicycle to deliver a Magnum icecream to a security guard that was posted… 50 meters away…
This proud exhibit of wealth and power is however the shinny side of the coin, a side so bright it makes difficult to see the counterpart. How is all this madness substained? Nationals represent 10% of the population and do not need to work. Simple as that. They can live on benefits (several thousands of Euros a month) from the government for being nationals and retain these benefits as long as they do not marry a foreigner. Sometimes foreign companies are forced to contract nationals depending on the size of the company. These positions are normally paid WAY over market standards and the expected productivity of the employee is questionable. First-World-Country inmigrants (Europeans, Americans, Australians, etc.) make up 20% and usually come to management positions, sent by their head quarters. The rest are mainly Indian, Pakistanis, Nepalese, Filipinos, Africans and Chinese (altogether roughly 70% of the population) who are in charge of doing the undercovered job. While tourists get blinded by the bling of the massive cars that cross the kilometrical avenues (a 3.7 litre Ford with 280 horse power is a minor thing when you can full up a petrol tank with just 20€ and Dubai is VERY extensive), the army of human ants shuttle between their job locations and their homes (in residential areas in the desert) in private company buses similar to the old ones used in India or Thailand, lacking A/C and being at times overcrowded. These people are kept in the country with the passport retained by the employer, to avoid unexpected dissapearances, something that happens commonly, mainly when they go on holiday and do not return. It’s a strange working relationship at the least! Despite all of this, I feel like I am missing something. I feel like I am just judging Dubai with preconceptions and easy accusations.
This is a small country with a relatively small amount of oil, compared to the neighbours. However, the metropoli has managed to locate itself at the centre of the world and people continue to come to work here at a larger rate year after year. The magnificence of the architecture is unquestionable, with new buildings and development extravaganzas being planed continuously. Also, the weather conditions are almost perfect (saving the extreme summer heat) for a small holiday escape. l guess it is just a simple question of preferences and although I fully enjoyed seeing my old friend from London, eating out, staring at the multicolor skyline in the evening and sun bathing by the swimming pool, this is definitely a place I can easily tick off my trip list without thinking of going back.