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10 April, 2004

Urban moments

Increasingly high-rise, urbanised, and belted in with motorways, Dubai's population is also going street.

At the petrol station by Guantanamo in the late evening - a group of expat children do their best to scuffle around the pristine pavings and look gangsta. Two boys do wheelies with a go-kart, a brand new, expensive go-kart bought by well-paid parents. Others stand around on a wall, perhaps trying to bait the perma-smile, smartly-dressed subcon pump hands into action other than free window washing and do-you-have-a-loyalty-card-sir?

Travel north to another nice middle class area, the mall at Spinneys Umm Seqeim, where three expat teenagers sit on the pristine shiny floor, in a subdued version of "goth". They have no cigarettes; their parents are probably only five minutes away, and no alcopops, probably because the family's monthly booze allowance has already been spent on overpriced French paint stripper next door at MMI.

Back to Sheikh Zayed road where a small whitewashed building near a side road is sprayed with graffiti. The big bubble letters contain no blasphemies, and the picture nothing obscene, just an anodyne cartoon. Colours are muted, to avoid drawing attention.

Dubai-cool: summed up perfectly by a dishdash in a baseball cap.

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