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07 May, 2003

Dressed to thrill in Deira

No one who can afford a 1,600 dirham handbag lives in Deira. Least of all Muraqqabat Road, well into the depths of the arse-end of Deira, if not bordering on Sharjah, at least in its non-location non-location non-location.

But this is what Time Out would have us believe about "Rita". Rita describes herself as "in advertising." Interesting that she admits her Gianfranco Ferre, Milan jacket was a gift, and that her dress was a gift, and that her shoes were several hundred dirhams too. It seems Rita has travelled to Lebanon at least once, as that is where her earrings apparently hail from. But again, questions must be asked.

* Would a Beirut princess live in Muraqqabat Road, Deira?
* Would a young, female, non-emirati working in advertising in Dubai earn even half as much as the average Pashtun roadworker?

I fear investigative journalism has failed the Time Out hacks. Someone is funding Rita's lifestyle, and it certainly isn't Saatchi.

The heartwarming thing about Time Out is its desperation to present Dubai as Lahndahn. Witness the endless listings for club DJs long ago fired from their UK weddings-and-discos gigs. Witness the saturation crime coverage: drugs, jail breaks, deaths, robberies. Witness the social pages crammed with orange-faced bleach-blonde Emirates hostesses and their shady-looking boyfriends.

No: Dubai isn't gritty, it isn't cool, it isn't dangerous, and it isn't street. It's a pleasant, business capital in the middle of a boiling hot desert.

On the subject of "party pics" - arguably the most unbearable concept beyond nightclub sinks crammed with tissues and vomit (caused by said pics) - a new website devoted to these photographic horrors has been set up, at

I now realise why my Arabic colleagues have been laughing at me. They taught me that "mumtazz" was the Arabic for great/good. Evidently it's the Arabic for shit.

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