Creative Commons, Twocentsworth
It's not schadenfreude. After writing a couple of years worth of posts about dubious Dubai, it was painful to read Johann Hari's lengthy article in the Independent: The dark side of Dubai. It is merciless. He starts it with
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 ask the Filipino girl behind the counter [in the Pizza Hut] 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."
Read it all in the Independent.
A lot of people are suggesting that the article is over the top and not an accurate depiction of Dubai; Sultan Al Qassemi, who was interviewed in the article and described as "a contrarian liberal, advocating gradual reform", writes in Arabian Business.com:
Reading the article it evident that Mr. Hari was bent on highlighting the negative from the get go while completely ignoring all the positive developments that have taken place in Dubai. Last year for example Dubai introduced a new mandatory green building initiative signalling the emirate’s commitment to address environmental issues .
Even the Independent has done some serious backing off.
But we have wondered about it for quite a while:
Dubious Dubai: Eco-Bling on the Anara Tower
Dubai Jumps the Shark
Dubai: My Phallic Symbol is Bigger than Yours
Construction Starting On Dubious Dubai Twirling Tower?
Chill Out on Dubious Dubai's First Refrigerated Beach