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16 May, 2008

"Beware Benidorm"

Most tourists are initially blown away by Dubai and the veneer of glitz and opulence that "seven star" hotels, extensive service (cheap third world labour) and various world-first-megaprojects are able to supply. But The Economist has a warning for developing countries hoping to grab the tourism dollar. They note the example of Spain, which ravaged much of its beautiful Mediterranean coastline into a concrete hell:

"The question planners in these new markets should ask themselves is where they want tourism in their country to be in 20 years. At the moment tourists from emerging markets have their own tastes. Russians like two weeks on a sunny beach, wild parties and lots of retail therapy. The Chinese prefer urban travel to sea and sand. People from the Gulf states travel in big families and require halal food. Yet, with the progress of economic prosperity they will probably become more like Europeans and Americans, who want scenery, a decent environment and a smattering of history and culture. If you destroy your heritage and scenery, you will come to regret it."

The issue with a tourism-based economy is that it depends on mass tourism, and critically, repeat mass tourism. So who is likely to come to Dubai, and who is likely to keep coming? As a speculation:

Annual visitors: regional Arabs, property owners, families of expats, European "Benidorm" demographic

One-off/occasionals: wealthy subcons, friends of expats, more discerning Europeans, rich Chinese, rich Africans, Russians

Won't come: poorer subcons (ie the vast majority), poorer Chinese (ditto), poorer Africans (ditto), Americans, Israelis

As well as this, Dubai faces several major tests:

1. Ramadan 2008+
From this year, Ramadan starts to coincide with European school holidays. That means a massive overhaul of food-in-public laws are needed. No way will places like Dubailand be able to ban food from dawn till dusk; it seems increasingly unlikely that popular tourist-frequented malls such as Mall of the Emirates will either. And curtained cafes won't suffice: children will need to be able to walk around eating ice creams in broad daylight if they so wish. And booze will need to be on sale at every hotel all day long. If you want the mass tourism dollar, this is how you must prostitute your culture. Mass tourists smoke, drink, shag and often behave offensively. You can't expect them to behave like a coach load of trappist nuns if you want their money.

2. Rising costs
Soaring food and oil costs are hurting people worldwide. Dubai is a long haul destination for pretty much everyone: it is always going to be more expensive to sun-sand-sea in the UAE than in Spain if you're European, Goa if you're Indian, the Gold Coast if you're Australian, and so on. With so many destinations all over the world, cost will start to become a more critical factor than convenience and familiarity.

3. Competition
Specifically regional competition. What you get in Dubai is pretty much identical to what you get in Doha or Abu Dhabi: the same "seven star" hotels, the same perma-sunny weather, the same "tax free" shopping, the same mega malls and world-first developments. Dubai currently has an edge, but this may not always be the case.


Comments

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71 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

More than the destruction of natural beauty and habitat (anyone remember the Chicago Beach Village secluded beach now replaced by Mina Salam?), the issue might be compounded by the burst of the Real Estate bubble (it happened in USA, UK, Spain, etc...). What we might see in the Dubai speculative real estate market (people getting into debt,buying of plans, hoping to off load their property after 6 months to some other suckers being forced to walk away meaning realtors not having the cash to continue the building phase) being littered with unfinished or badly finished project that will kill the Economy as well as the landscape. Look at Spain now. Frankly, I am surprised that the sub prime crisis has not devasted the region, yet.
At least Oman is in a better position now and might emerge as the clear tourist destination in the long run. Boy I miss those "free beaches" we had 10 or 20 years ago in Dubai, SHJ, and AUH.
I am now based in Europe and Dubai's reputation as a tourist destination is badly teinted by rampant urbanization, traffic jams, cost of living, etc...
Heck, Dubai is known as Sand and Concrete. No tourism redeeming value, no culture. Shopping? It is cheaper to shop in Europe even with the VAT. I know. I did just that.

16 May, 2008 17:48  
Blogger CommanderLaser said...

dubai's answer to all your worries would be two cities - the natural habitat city & Concrete-free City ... that should get u started in pouring out love for this magical & mystical land of wannabes ...

17 May, 2008 00:38  
Blogger Kyle said...

Dubai is like, to quote what JFK said about Nixon ‘Have you seen a man fighting so hard, wanting to be liked by everyone? The more he tries, the more people shy away from him. He’s so transparent’.

Or better said, a one-time affair, easily forgotten! And who better to blame than the wise men that govern, who enjoy constructing artificial structures with hokey hospitality. Sometimes, I really feel sorry for the support staff at major hotels that are all over us, attending to our every whim instead of allowing themselves and us to just be.

My in-laws and family were here last year. We suggested bringing them over around fall this year.

No, thank you was the response. Europe or no deal.

That just about sums up an affair that’s easily forgotten.

17 May, 2008 08:16  
Anonymous Mister P said...

Wihout being sarcastic, I believe (I truly do) that the rulers of Dubai, took that into consideration. I know they studied extensively the successes of Hongkong, Singapore and other small city states to take the essence from it to Dubai. I don't see the real estate sector falling flat anytime soon, there will be a downturn, no question, but it won't be a very hard landing.

On the tourism side:
Yes, some tourist refer to Dubai as the biggest construction site of the planet and they are right. The luxury traveller does not really appreciate that.

However: One thing that will make Dubai a success still, forget the 6 hour flight: WEATHER.

Dubai is anticyclical, for europeans it offers summer-like tempereatures, sun and beach in the winter and is not as far away as New Zealand/Australia. People will continue to come in the peak season of Dubai, which is our "Winter" Season.

Yes the other Emirates and GCC countries will eat into Dubai's tourism business. Oman offers authentic, culture and quietness. All things Dubai can't offer.

I recently spend a weekend in Fujeirah, and I can't describe how relaxing and calm it was there. No traffic, no construction noise, much less people, an oasis of relaxation...

Return visitors:
My friends: Come to Dubai once, see the place for a maximum of a week and probably will never return. There is just nothing to see/experience here. And these are not the people to visit theme parks.

We will be all very surprised how our guest-mix will change in the next few years in Dubai.

Shopping destination:
Comments from my friends: Overpriced last seasons collections? Where is the shopping paradise we were promised?

It's true, we are currently the dumpyard of the big brands, here they sell the old stuff (still new for us) for prices they couldn't get in US/Europe/Asia.

Recently I checked for a Nokia N810 here in Dubai, only place which had the PREVIOUS MODEL N800 available i2, price 1800 AED (nearly 500US$). Price via Amazon: 219 US$, Price of the N810 at Amazon: 399 US$

Yes there are no taxes, but there is a tax that I call: Greed-Tax. they charge sso much coz they can. And they don't see that they would make much more revnue and profit if they would sell more products at reasonable, bargain prices for the tourists....weird...

So long!
Mister P

17 May, 2008 10:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

idiots come, idiots see, idiots go. so much hype has been built around dubai, the decision to visit it often swayed and not a rational decision. once they land, they figure that it is the kingdom of construction cranes, summers that kill and cook you black in some 3 hours outside ( as happened in the case of someone last year), terrible traffic jams, even more terrible taxi service, worlds most racist profiling and treatment of any brown from the general region of india/ pak/ philippines/, sri-lanka/ bangladesh, and to top it all, very high priced shopping. i bought a canon lens quoted 950 usd in dubai, for 550 usd from newy york. dubai is good for people who have never travelled around, and would like to see a lot of stuff that is being written about all the time. so that they can go home and tell friends, i was also there in that shit. and god forbid, if they run foul of any legal or police issues here. no one can predict what pound of flesh they extract.

18 May, 2008 12:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai is a wealthy, multicultural, cosmopolitan city where if you have seen it somewhere else before, it will most likely to be bigger and better in Dubai. An increasingly popular destination for celebrity spotting and for tourists, Dubai is one of the decade's most progressive cities, with billions of dollars being pumped into showpiece schemes and new infrastructure. Chic hotels, skyscrapers, mega malls and state of the art business sectors such as the Dubai International Financial Centre, Media City, Sports City, Internet City, through to beach clubs, concert halls, stadiums, theatres attracting the best international talent to first class education, entertainment, gymnasiums and retail outlets are all on offer.

It's young, multi-ethnic and liberal attitude within the Middle East, makes Dubai City the perfect location for family and friends to come out on holiday, in fact you probably won't get a break from visitors! With a virtual zero crime rate, English as one of the main languages, the comfort and luxury of home, tax free, and a great meeting point, connecting Europe (only seven hours flying time from London) and Asia and a whole melting pot of nationalities and global influences, with all year round sunshine, it is fast becoming the in-place to work and live.

18 May, 2008 14:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the anon post at 14:31 no doubt care of Dubai Inc PR agency or DTCM

18 May, 2008 14:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anon post at 14:31. Have you got no shame? Have you even ever lived in Dubai? How much are the Maktoums paying you? WTF are you from Zimbabwe or Zambia? How desperate are you to please you masters? Get a life ! Attracting the best international talent? Have you had a look at the recruitment agencies in Europe. They are struggling to get TOP professionals to Dubai now that the word is out. "you can fool some of the people sometimes, but you cannot fool all of the people of the time." You are so Full Of S..t but start believing you own hype and this place will eat and spit you out. Better wise up before it is too late and make a run for it. Fool...

18 May, 2008 21:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now the official Dubai Soundtrack with Lyrics
http://www.houseoflyrics.com/lyrics/david_david/welcome_to_the_boomtown.html


WELCOME TO THE BOOMTOWN
David & David

Ms. Cristina drives a nine four four
Satisfaction oozes from her pores
She keeps rings on her fingers
Marble on her floor
Cocaine on her dresser
Bars on her doors
She keeps her back against the wall
She keeps her back against the wall

So I say
I say welcome, welcome to the boomtown
Pick a habit
We got plenty to go around
Welcome, welcome to the boomtown
All that money makes such a succulent sound
Welcome to the boomtown
Handsome Kevin got a little off track
Took a year off of college
And he never went back
Now he smokes too much
He's got a permanent hack
Deals dope out of Denny's
Keeps a table in the back
He always listens to the ground
Always listens to the ground

So I say
I say welcome, welcome to the boomtown
Pick a habit
We got plenty to go around
Welcome, welcome to the boomtown
All that money makes such a succulent sound
Welcome to the boomtown

Well the ambulance arrived too late
I guess she didn't want to wait

18 May, 2008 21:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an antidote to DTCM:
From the May edition of think tank Europe 2020’s Global anticipation report(translated from the French)
“Concerning the residential and commercial real estate boom in the oil states of the Persian Gulf, we estimate that it will come to a sudden stop at the end of 2008/beginning 2009, when the results of US recessflation, European stagflation and Asian economic slow down will combine. To this end, we should keep in mind that the dithyrambic leaflets and articles on Dubai’s real estate were written by those very companies, media and experts who praised American real estate opportunities two years ago and those of the UK or Spain a year ago. The market upon which the petro-monarchies expect to make their colossal construction investments profitable only exists in the minds of their developers, bankers and all those who believe in them. In fact it is nothing but a desert mirage. Indeed in the age of the internet and the A380, Asians and Europeans need no intermediaries to make business. These “booms” only exist because there is a need today to make the best possible use of those mountains of US dollars losing value every day and nowadays impossible to invest in the US. According to our researchers, these investments will not be profitable and these regions will be full of incredible ghost-cities within a decade. If in addition to this the US and Israel decide to attack Iran in the coming months, ongoing construction will not even be completed’’

18 May, 2008 21:56  
Anonymous engnr1 said...

17 months after my last business trip to Dubai....appears like nothing has changed, only even more of the same. But I think tourism is the least of the issues. I think with Ramadan occurring in late summertime the next few years, full fall and winter seasons of conventions, Eurotrash partiers, etc will keep Mo, (Ham)Danny and their families/friends doing quite well, thank you.

After 6 years of frequent traveling to Dubai (in 2001, the Hard Rock Cafe was literally the edge of the world), the following seem to be the key lessons from Dubai:

1) Slavery (which IS allowed per the Koran) is alive and well. OK, it's more like indentured servitude. But how else can one explain the conditions and the lack of action toward the men in the blue coveralls? Likewise, the concubines of the Bur Dubai and Deira hotel bars who service those who can afford their pleasures are a variation on this theme.

2) I think Mo had a long-time vision of Dubai being the next Singapore, but after 9/11, he had an epiphany and saw the potential for money flowing in from the neighbors in lieu of investing in the West. Thus the urgency to build everything now and fast. When the oil money began piling up the last few years, he wanted to capture that as well. It was when traffic suddenly became a disaster about 3-4 years ago that anyone even gave a thought as to what the concreting of Dubai really meant. Unfortunately, this is where #3 comes into play.

3) The essential thing to remember in Dubai business and politics (such as they are) is that there is always a disconnect between what the wastafarians think, what they say, and what they do. They may seem to be straightforward to you when speaking in English. However, the reality is and always will be more complicated. And those with the power tend to be spared the day-to-day life difficulties of the expats who have built their city. So they cannot understand - because they are simply following many of their own cultural instincts toward other people - only on a much larger scale.

19 May, 2008 07:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai is a wealthy, multicultural, cosmopolitan city where if you have seen it somewhere else before, it will most likely to be bigger and better in Dubai.

YES, ESPECIALLY THE PROSTITUTION, RIP OFF SHOPPING, COPYING OF CULTURES AND BUILDINGS OF OTHER COUNTRIES, AND OF COURSE THE REAL ESTATE MAFIA WHERE YOU NEVER OWN ANYTHING YOU BUY, IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE WHIM AND FANCY OF THE POWERS. COSMOPOLITAN, MY ASS, ASK THE INNOCENTS LYING IN THE JAIL FOR CRIMES THAT OTHER COUNTRIES WOULD DEEM RIGHT OF BASIC LIFE.

An increasingly popular destination for celebrity spotting and for tourists, Dubai is one of the decade's most progressive cities, with billions of dollars being pumped into showpiece schemes and new infrastructure.

NAME A LIST OF CELEBRITIES WHO ACTUALLY LIVE IN DUBAI ATLEAST FOR 3 MONTHS OF THE YEAR. LOTS HAVE BEEN GIVEN FREE VILLAS, THEY VISIT ONCE, AND SELL IT OFF.THERE ARE NO REAL CELEBRITIES WHO HAVE EVER REALLY MOVED TO LIVE IN DUBAI,JUST LOTS OF PR BULLHIT.

Chic hotels, skyscrapers, mega malls and state of the art business sectors such as the Dubai International Financial Centre, Media City, Sports City, Internet City, through to beach clubs, concert halls, stadiums, theatres attracting the best international talent to first class education, entertainment, gymnasiums and retail outlets are all on offer.

YEAH TELL ME MORE. THE 55 DEGREE HEAT IN SUMMER WILL MAKE SURE THE SPORTSMEN WILL DIE OF HEAT.

It's young, multi-ethnic and liberal attitude within the Middle East, makes Dubai City the perfect location for family and friends to come out on holiday, in fact you probably won't get a break from visitors!

YES, AND DONT FORGET TO COMPARE IT TO A REAL HOLIDAY IN PARIS,MILAN OR IN LONDON, OR NEW YORK, OR BAHAMAS JUST TO KNOW WHAT YOUR FAMILY REALLY MISSED WHILE STANDING IN 3 HOUR QUEUES FOR TAXIS IN THE SUMMER HEAT.

With a virtual zero crime rate, English as one of the main languages, the comfort and luxury of home, tax free, and a great meeting point, connecting Europe (only seven hours flying time from London) and Asia and a whole melting pot of nationalities and global influences, with all year round sunshine, it is fast becoming the in-place to work and live.

196 NATIONALITIES DOES LIVE THERE, I WILL GIVE YOU THAT. BUT THEY LIVE IN 196 GHETTOS, WHERE NOT ONE WILL INTERACT WITH ANOTHER. NO WHITE WILL BE CAUGHT DEAD WITH A BLACK, NO LOCAL ARAB WILL BE CAUGHT DEAD WITH AN INDIAN OR PAK, NO LEBANESE WILL BE CAUGHT DEAD WITH AN EGYPTIAN. IT IS THE MOST PHENOMENALLY RACIALLY SEGREGATED COUNTRY I HAVE SEEN.

BUT THEN WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM A CUNTRY WITH LOW CLASS LABOR HIRED FROM WEST AND EAST, INTELLECTUAL BRILLIANCE AND TOLERANCE?

19 May, 2008 12:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It'll be interesting to see what happens in the Gulf once Ramadan coincides with school holidays. In Bahrain even hotels are not allowed to serve any food or drink during daylight hours. There has been a lot of investment in Bahrain in facilities like the new water park at Al Areen. Can't see that it will attract many visitors if you can't even feed your children there!!

19 May, 2008 14:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like many are jealous of Dubai and its tremendous success.

The reason Dubai is the best city in the world can be proven by the fact that no Dubai native actually moves to the UK to work, however there are loads of British people in Dubai, which means they surely feel Dubai is better than the UK.

19 May, 2008 14:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mass tourists smoke, drink, shag and often behave offensively.

And the Emiratis don't? LOL!

$zero

19 May, 2008 15:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three-week-old baby girl found abandoned in Abu Dhabi park
http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/General/10214285.html

"The baby was taken to the Corniche hospital first and then to Al Mafraq hospital. After both hospitals refused to admit the baby to neonatal care, the child was taken to Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC)."

Both Hospitals refused to admit her!? That really clashes with the 1st world image that Dubai is trying to project.

19 May, 2008 16:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think a few of the dubai-ites are surprised to read anything here about dubai that is not approved and written by the PR department. I dont think they realise people will write the truth one way or the other, on the internet. If Dubai is such a confident place with no dirty lies and practises to hide to protect is manucured image, how come all websites that criticize dubai is banned, including this website? still sounds like the most cosmopolitan free society in the world? fools paradise is more like it. As for emiratis moving to UK to work, are there any qualified and hardworking enough to do so, and if yes, are they willing to get to office by 9 am? wasta wont work in the real free world, nor do you get nationalised preferential treatment, unlike here in middle east.

19 May, 2008 19:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

however there are loads of British people in Dubai, which means they surely feel Dubai is better than the UK.

Well, in Dubai, the beer is cheaper, and the whores are much cheaper, granted.

19 May, 2008 20:12  
Blogger Muscato said...

I'm always amazed/amused by the presumption - which seems so common out here - that the only reason people travel for work is because they've somehow failed at home. Never seems to occur to them that perhaps we just want to see the Great Wide World and perhaps divert ourselves with the sheer absurdity of this unlikely place...

19 May, 2008 22:59  
Blogger LivingQatar said...

Excellent post from Secret Dubai. Dubai will fall bwtween a rock and a hard place as far as tourism goes.

It is neither one thing or another, there are much nicer places to attract a tourist dollar and appealing to high end people only is limiting their market to a group of people who are better served in other parts of the World.

They seem to have simply avoided the middle "mass" market and this is where resorts make their money, and Dubai will NEVER attract them.

Think about it we travel to Europe to discover, to expierience, to have an adventure to see something new.

What is there here that is New, to expierence, to savour and discover.

Here if you were brave enough to hire a car where would you drive and what would you find. You are not going to drive up the coast and discover a beautiful taverna eat some fish and down some cheap vino.

It simply does not exist here, will never exist here.

Other places do it better, nicer and cheaper. And shopping, its the great myth of Dubai "Tax Free" yet prices are identical if not higher than Europe, Whats the point of flying 7 hours to Dubai staying in a Hotel overlooked by 25 cranes and paying a higher price on your Chanel bag than you would in Bond Street.

I live in Qatar and this Country seems to be living the same "Dream" of Dubai, build it and they will come, the question everyone always asks is...............

From where......

19 May, 2008 23:58  
Blogger Moby said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. I lived in Dubai between 1982-93 & Dubai then was a beautiful, clean, unpolluted seaside town; the perfect place to grow up in.

Today, Dubai is an overcrowded, highly polluted & super-expensive megacity with none of its old charm. The glitzy, glamourous Dubai sucks big time!

20 May, 2008 09:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FROM TODAY'S NEWS:

"Dubai allows car pools to reduce traffic

By Ashfaq Ahmed, Gulf News Chief Reporter
Last updated: May 20, 2008, 08:30

Dubai: The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has allowed car pooling to reduce the use of cars by individuals.

"Now people can drive their friends and colleagues to and from their homes and workplaces without fear of getting fines if they get approval from the RTA," said Khalid Mohammad Hashim, Director of Planning and Business Development Department at the RTA.

A motorist who intends to share his or her car with friends or colleagues must register the car with the RTA."

MEANWHILE DUBAI PR SPEAK:
"Dubai is a wealthy, multicultural, cosmopolitan city.It's young, multi-ethnic and liberal attitude within the Middle East, makes Dubai City the perfect location"

PUT ONE AND ONE TOGETHER AND FIGURE OUT WHICH ONE DUBAI IS: AN ALL INTRUSIVE GOVERNMENT, ZERO PERSONAL RIGHTS NATION WELL AND TRULY IN 3RD WORLD WHICH DECIDES WHO YOU CAN CARRY IN YOUR OWN CAR?

OR THE EPITOME OF FREEDOM AND MODERN LIFESTYLE AS DUBAI PR CLAIMS?

20 May, 2008 15:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NOT TO MISS THE FINE PRINT OF CAR POOL RULES, EXCLUSIVE TO DUBAI GOVT AS PER GULF NEWS:

"After registration, motorists will be given certificates allowing them to share their cars. But the names of the persons sharing the car should be furnished at the time of registration to avoid a fine. A maximum of four people will be allowed to share a car"

TO WHAT EXTENT CAN THE WORLDS SELF PROCLAIMED RICHEST NATION GO TO MAKE SOME MONEY OF ITS IMPORTED SLAVE LABOR.LAUGH MY ASS OFF :-)

20 May, 2008 15:35  
Blogger LivingQatar said...

Dubai right now seems to be drowning under the weight of its own bullshit.

The build it and they will come philosophy is riduculous.

Did anyone see the announcement for legoland this week, usual PR guff then said they expect 2.5 million visitors a year.

OK, but the UK legoland attracted 1.5 million people in 2002 80% of whome are from the UK (Population 56 Million)

What are the chances of Legoland Dubai getting 1.5 million people to visit local population 1 million.

See also this from the BBC

Nonetheless, visitor numbers at the park last year fell 100,000 from 1.6 million the year before and it has yet to show a profit after seven years of operation.br/>>

PR bullshit all over the place, Dubai only has an economy because the Russians and the UK gangsters need somewhere to invest their cash.

After all think about only that lass of people would actually be impressed by a massive shopping mall full of overpriced Gucci.

20 May, 2008 16:21  
Anonymous Ahmad AlFalasi said...

After reading all the comments, i feel an obligation to share my opinion on this topic.

Incidentally, I am an Emarati citizen, currently enrolled college in the U.S. studying to become an Architect and Urban Planner.

Dubai is very dear to me, not only because it was the place i was born and raised in, but also because it is where i will live and die as my ancestors have done for hundreds of years before me.

Dubai, to me and many people like me, is a place carries the very important and profound notion of home. As such, i am compelled to prevent any attempts of degrading or detracting of my homeland. and try to present a less corrupted viewpoint of Dubai in this public forum.

Regionally, The City of Dubai today is a precursor for the Cities of the Gulf of tomorrow. That is the undeniable fact. Sure, Dubai has its social injustices. as the most advanced nations have their own. but the topic here, based on my understanding, is how will we create the tourism based economy without destroying our scenic landscape.

Almost all the comments i have read offered little in the way of proposing solutions for the addressed problems, let alone consideration and discussion of the question of the future of the economy and environment of this city.

Besides, Whatever happened to constructive criticism guys? I mean, the moment the anonymous "PR dude" tried to offer a contrasting viewpoint, He was attacked just for the views he expressed.(If you yourself cannot remain impartial and fair, how could you expect other people to be?)

Most of the latter comments where little more than a tired commentary of the sad reality faced by some of the expats today. while it is never my intention to downplay those very realities, rather, we all should work together to provide grounds for the exchange of ideas, or better yet, the proposal practical solutions to the challenges of today, for... you guessed it... a better tomorrow :)

This region, and the City of Dubai in particular, are places of enormous potential, (and no i am not talking about marketable potential) Its real wealth is the people who inhabit it. (and no, not just the native population, but all of diverse nationalities currently in Dubai). Dubai can and hopefully will become a place of peaceful and prosperous coexistence of people from all different creeds and races. This may sound a bit far fetched at first glance, but think of all that is happening in Dubai (for good or ill) as the sowing of the seeds of social change and subsequent social empowerment.

The future isn't all that bleak anymore.

Apologies on any misgivings on shortcomings unintentionally incurred by my comment.

AlFalasi.

21 May, 2008 19:13  
Blogger ammaro said...

excellent review, and yes, i've had this on my mind for a while... things are going to need to change, and at the way theyre going, theyre all short term fixes for whats going to turn into a long term problem... hmm...

22 May, 2008 05:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ahmad

yours is probably the first mail from a dubai supporter that admitted that things are less than perfect. and as such, you will never get the kind of violent and negative reactions others did , like the PR dude. You have to realise that dubai at present is a sad little country, with lots of unhppy people, lots of discrimination, very unever wealth distribution, very skewed legal system etc. and on top of all this, when they think they can ban the voice of all people, and only let the PR dudes speak in global media, is when indepednat voices like Secret Dubai gain importance. if your country's presentation in media was balanced, like a US or Europe or CHina or India gets covered in media, then you would not see these negative internet coverage. What you are seeing here is the real voice of truth, whether you like it or not. and it will continue.

Having said that, I do hope dubai does manage to fix its problems, and move forward. my impression of emiratis is that of a nation of nice people who have been taught to be shylocks by cheap shysters imported from other nations. you should not be known for your lies, you should be know for your truths.

22 May, 2008 12:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UAE's Emaar to construct low-cost housing units

http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093197484

Does that mean that the high end market is crumbling? To force low income to buy then rents will have to be made unatractive. They already are. Was that part of the plan already?

23 May, 2008 14:54  
Blogger  said...

it's only human to find things wrong all the time and never really be appreciative or content.
alot of people complain about dubai and the things all the thing it's prone of being hypocrticial to.
it's just an individualist culture imposing their etic on other '3rd world coutries'.
and dubai is a 3rd world country with first world money.
the people make it seem that way.

no matter what, the truths of the vulgarity of this country will come out.

in other words, if you don't like it, go back home!!!

24 May, 2008 00:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ashley,

It must be very easy to be complacent, being a student, supported by Mom and Dad and living in that nice villa with this nice big green garden of yours.
The rest of us have worked and toiled for years if not decades in this country.
We have got bills to pay and families to feed. We have contributed to make this place what it is and we do not appreciate being shafted.
From your profile, I would say that your family has been here longer than the average 10 years. Maybe from the beginning?
Chances are you will stay in DXB in the future. You are lifer.
I might start worrying if I were you, because frankly I do not think you would like it anywhere else. You have had it too good in LaLaLand.

This is home for you now and always will be and yet, you will never belong legally or culturally.

You will have nowhere to go back to when this turns into the Monaco of the Middle-East.

Then again you could be so filthy rich that you might not care, in which case you have no business telling us where to go.

24 May, 2008 09:35  
Blogger  said...

why do you stay anonymous?
well, i had something to say, and you responded. I appreciate that.

You're probably right, and I am a spoilt expat brat, and no, in fact i've stayed here for almost 4 years now, and this place is 'different' compared to countries I've lived in before:
singapore
malaysia
scotland
saudi arabia - yes, even the worst place on earth is better than this **** hole. there's more character and the people aren't so caught up in their money and flashing things.

striving to make a life here? decades you say? don't i feel sympathetic? yet you complain about it still, would you be better off in your own country?
i certainly wouldn't, my family are better off here, and that' s why i'm appreciative!!!

everyone has bills to pay even my dad, with 5 kids and school fees.

And I certainly don't plan to stay here, as you say "lifer"... is that even a word?! In fact, I'm enrolling at either Glasgow University or Glasgow School of Art. My dad's from Glasgow.

Of course I've had it good in dubai. But I'm pretty well-travelled so I pretty much know what I am and what I'm not missing out on.

Not fitting in culturally?! That's a joke! Like this place has a true culture anyway?! What is culture to you? Clubbin, drinking, fancy bars, and going to the beach? Safaris in range rovers and what? Don't you see everyone is to themselves? There is so much segregation of nationalities here, that's why I say it's sooooo not metropolitan. London is metropolitan, Singapore is, New York is.

Monaco of the middle east?! Of course! Because it hasn't really got it's own name to it, with all these western influences and innovative ideas. Plus the fact it's not really run by it's religion despite what they say.

People come here for the money!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No one cares for culture when they come here abroad unless their own countries are shitholes!!!!

I'm not patriotic or anything, but having a British passport, I'd say most countries welcome the brits :) Sorry If I'm "shafting" you with my privileges.

I'm not telling anyone where to go or what to do, but be appreciative! You're lucky to be in Dubai!!!

If anything this country has a problem with, it's the people, and the racism!

Don't talk to me about "Lalaland", you're the one who's been trying to make it through here, all I'm saying is that people should appreciate what they have. Otherwise, look at your list of demands and be realistic about what you should/shouldn't need or want.

But no matter, I respect you have spoken out, and seeing others opinions is a very important matter of the human condition.

p.s. i love my villa and daddy's hummer, mummy's armada, and massive trampoline in my big green garden, thanks! I couldn't be more grateful!!!

Goodbye goodluck with the rest of your life!

24 May, 2008 13:44  
Blogger Shaper85 said...

@Mechanical Heart/Ashley

You're in for a meaningless, superficial existence if you are grateful for all the material objects you have access to; I was born and raised in Dubai - there is something idelible about feeling like you belong someplace - especially if its the only 'home' you've known.
While you might be content with all the riches bestowed upon you by your parents, other people just want recognition for their efforts to build this country from some podunk into the glitzy city states they now appear to be.
Sure, people are better off financially here but at what cost? While in developed countries laws that enact human rights are enabled by the initiative of citizens, in Dubai you have a man/family who can snap his fingers and create laws and more importantly, enforce them to bring justice and social harmony, yet refuses to do so, ostensibly at the risk of ruining Dubai's bull run.

I think its very realistic to ask for fundamental human rights. If this country has any problems, one of them is probably with the ditzy nouveau expats like yourself who have no clue what Dubai was like in the 70s, 80s and early 90s to see just how much the pioneer expats contribted to the land.

24 May, 2008 17:28  
Blogger Shaper85 said...

Oh and I just checked out your blog Ashley. You seem to be of Asian/mixed race descent. I think thats the most hilarious (also sad) case or irony - someone whos parent(s) probably moved to a Western country for a better life and hope for a better future, for which you are reaping the benefits, to turn around and tell expats here to go home if they don't like it and to be happy with what they have.
Wow.
Talk about out. of. touch.

24 May, 2008 17:36  
Blogger  said...

Buddy, you don't know me! Can a person not be happy with what they have?
Materialistic?! You know what's worse than that? Ignorance. People who think they can make assumptions of others as to the 'anon' person that responded to me.

Out of touch you say? My dear, I think you're confused. Everyone wants a better future, even you do, but I'm not making my judgements about you, because I'm not like you to be as such.

When I say, "if you don't like it, go the f*** home" I'm implying people should be grateful.

Yes, and I am half Scot, half filipino. Crazy mix eh?

If anything, I am aware of the slavery that goes on in this country and the lack of help of government, but that's not my problem is it? Not even the people who've lived here longer than I, give a damn!

Social harmony? Just wait. Yes, thank the government for covering up the crude acts of the real dementia of people in Dubai, whatever nationality. The truth is horrible, and what more than a tourist looking for a place like Dubai?

Money laundering, alcohol, prostitution, guns, hypocrisy and corruption. If you want a great country to live in so righteous in its muslim ways, go live in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. I've lived there and I can definitely say that's a muslim country!

Whatever contributions you've made, for you to deal with, truthfully not my concern. But what you people don't get is that I'm thankful for what Dubai is, while I'm in it, since you say, "you've contributed to it so much in the 60s and 70s" etc. That's good for you! Good job, and well done!!!
Actually, I think it's those who slave away in the summer heat, the workers on all Dubai's great fast development that need to be thanked more than anyone.

What human rights exist in this country?!

Like I've been saying before, if there's anything to complain about it's nationalities and racism in this country - the reason this country won't move on.

Have a happy life!!!

24 May, 2008 19:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think almost all the comments here are extremely negative due to the TRA. Everyone who chooses to remain in the UAE is banned from contributing to these comments, so only those who either left because they hated the place, or who left because many institutions here, in the name of 'continuous improvement' replace 1/3 of staff every year are able to post.

All the above have an understandable dislike of the UAE, which, admittedly, has its problems, as does everywhere. But only those who remain (and who, therefore, cannot post) believe the UAE is a country that is worthwhile in which to remain.

24 May, 2008 23:17  
Blogger  said...

"Everyone who chooses to remain in the UAE is banned from contributing to these comments"

That's funny since I was just doing a presentation on censorship in Dubai.

You're entire comment was negative, per se!

I'll be honest and say that the discussion on hating Dubai is much fun to read, and other such blogs containing such 'hatred'.

It's just unhappy people with nothing better to do than post useless comments that don't make life any better... - like myself.

"But only those who remain (and who, therefore, cannot post) believe the UAE is a country that is worthwhile in which to remain"

is that a threat to freedom of expression? Oh wait, yeah, that would violate censorship laws wouldn't it?

"The practice of censorship in Dubai clasges with the image the city wants to protect as a cosmopolitan business centre and a glamourous tourist destination aiming to attract 15 million visitors by 2010"
-Aleem Jumma, Dubai Censorship Office

FEAR. POWER. CONTROL.

oops, freedom of expression - sorry!

24 May, 2008 23:53  
Blogger Shaper85 said...

@ Mechanical heart


You said:
' p.s. i love my villa and daddy's hummer, mummy's armada, and massive trampoline in my big green garden, thanks! I couldn't be more grateful!!!'
and
'Buddy, you don't know me! Can a person not be happy with what they have?'

Hm whatever happened to health, wealth and wisdom being the key's to happiness?

'but that's not my problem is it? Not even the people who've lived here longer than I, give a damn!

*Sigh* you just don't get it. The people who have lived here for some time do give a damn - do you think that if everyone was complacent with what they have Dubai would be what it is? The pressure to change should come from those affected by it and, in Dubai's case, be constant so that they know people won't take their BS for long.

What people want is recognition of their efforts - like any civilized country does; once upon a time this was the case - like with all those big wig businessmen who came from India and weaseled their way to citizenship with the royal family back in the 60's.

Dubai has become such a hedonists paradise that many of the expats who helped found the very institutions you see today have left after realising the governments attitude with expats of 'use 'em and lose 'em'.

Sure you can be grateful for the financial security you have but what if you were raped by some Sheikh's 5th cousin twice removed? I bet you'd wish you had the rights for justice, which is just one reason why people are constantly critical of Dubai.

I bet you go to/went to Dubai College or English College - snob centrals; hopefully going to uni will elighten your attitudes.

25 May, 2008 00:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women get jail and deportation for kissing on Dubai public beach

http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Police_and_The_Courts/10216005.html

25 May, 2008 12:38  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Great link - now I'm blocked I may as well blog it - there's no issues with having "lesbian" in the URL now ;)

25 May, 2008 12:42  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Great link - now I'm blocked I may as well blog it - there's no issues with having "lesbian" in the URL now ;)

25 May, 2008 12:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yah secretdubai

As UAE rules, all blocked sites r in the same basket...Porn , religions , politics, any criticism . so u r allowed to publish any of them :).

Cheers

Imhotep

25 May, 2008 17:38  
Blogger  said...

"The pressure to change should come from those affected by it..."

Do you not think I'm aware of such innovation? Go on, be free to congratulate yourself then, as do most people in Dubai do. Bravo!!

"like with all those big wig businessmen who came from India and weaseled their way to citizenship with the royal family back in the 60's"

that's good for you. Why would anyone want to be of another citizenship anyway? That just reflects again on what people are complaining about - why are you complaining at all that whoever's relative in the 60's "weasled" their way into the "royal family" :S sounds a bit dodgy to me...

"Dubai has become such a hedonists paradise that many of the expats who helped found the very institutions you see today have left after realising the governments attitude with expats of 'use 'em and lose 'em'."

Hell yeah, like people coming here to make money out of the riches of locals. 90% of the work force are asian workers, and 80% of the population. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Dubai]

"what if you were raped by some Sheikh's 5th cousin twice removed? I bet you'd wish you had the rights for justice, which is just one reason why people are constantly critical of Dubai."

Questioning government is sooooo dangerous. I used to have friends who I found out had other friends in certain situations as such, not mentionning any names, but in truth, as it is ugly, it happens all over the world. Some worse tha others, and more talked about than here. Of course I feel sympathy, but this country runs on social and moral values of which are hypocritical to an extent of which cannot be helped. It's a dictatorship. Rebellion? No no, unless people look at the real issue behind all this hypocrisy and its religion. Plus mixed interpretations of what compensates, i.e. the rapid development of dubai vs. the enslavement of thousands of under-paid, neglected asian workers. It's not the indians weasling their way into the royal family to thank for the foundation of this country, it's the workers out there in this friggin heat!!!

Indeed I'm at "snob central" but that's your assumptions again. But then again, I guess I'm fucking grateful I am!! I can see how people are living in the slums of Karama and Diera. It's pretty shitty indeed. But like every country you've got your slum hidden somewhere. What makes Dubai special is keeping it hidden.
There! I questioned government censorship again!!!


p.s.
@ Secretdubai

Yeah, go anti-censorship on the site.

Thankyou bypass proxy! & GOODBYE SECRETDUBAI BLOG!!!

25 May, 2008 18:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry for this deviant post, but too good to be just a link

DUBAI ANNOUNCES NEW DEFINITION FOR 'SLEEPING OVER'

Women get jail and deportation for kissing on Dubai public beach

By Bassam Za'za',Gulf News Staff reporter
Published: May 25, 2008, 09:28

Dubai: Two women who were standing trial for kissing and cuddling on a public beach have been sentenced to one a month prison term followed by deportation.

The women, a 30-year-old Lebanese visitor and 36-year-old Bulgarian employee, had pleaded not guilty to kissing, cuddling and sleeping on each other like a married couple before the Dubai Court of Misdemeanour.

The Public Prosecution charged the girls with kissing, groping each other and indecently gesturing in public.

Initial interrogations revealed that the two women were spotted being intimate together on a public beach between Sharjah and Dubai.

Witnesses claimed that they saw the Lebanese woman sleeping over the Bulgarian and the two were cuddling.

25 May, 2008 19:12  
Anonymous hani said...

"If this country has any problems, one of them is probably with the ditzy nouveau expats like yourself who have no clue what Dubai was like in the 70s, 80s and early 90s to see just how much the pioneer expats contribted to the land."

Nicely said Shaper85, couldn't have agreed more!

Ashley honey, locals and lifetime expatriates like Shaper85 and I, cannot wait for the likes of you bitches to get the hell out of this country we feel quite home and sentimental about. Ignorant, opportunistic, nouveau, greed monger whores like you and your mother that have come to ruin this once serene place.

25 May, 2008 20:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Dubai Marketing Lap Dog.

We got the Dubai Chief of Police declaring that men become transvestite because they study with women. He then goes on to link deviant sexual behavior, criminality, homosexuality, etc...
When was the last time any of us got robbed by an Army of blood thirsty transvestite?
Wow! On one hand you guys spend Billions on promoting this place on the other you got a cartoon character running the Police force who could replace Mullah Omar tomorrow if the job became available.
Wait maybe you guys just want Dubai to compete with Rio de Janeiro? First transvestites and then a giant sugar loaf built by Emaar?
I cannot wait for this to be forwarded to the US and EU press.
http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Police_and_The_Courts/10216129.html

26 May, 2008 04:05  
Blogger Shaper85 said...

@Ashley

I'm not even going to respond to the points in your somehwat schitzophrenic post.

However, it looks like Dubai as another negative news article about it! They probably didn't pay the journalist enough to do a glowing review of the country...
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080525/ap_on_re_mi_ea/towers_of_tears

26 May, 2008 13:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai land of opportunities … NOT!

My brother tried to start a business in Dubai, which required a certain amount of construction. What should have taken just 2 months took 13 because constructing anything in Dubai requires Municipality approvals at various stages, and the Dubai municipality work on a “we won’t tell you unless you ask” basis. Anyway, at the end of 13 months when it was all done and ready, my brother was told that Sheikh Mohamed’s Office has put a freeze on the area where he was building.

Needless to say his life savings and a considerable amount of borrowing is tied up in a court case against the land-lord (emirati) and he’ll be lucky to see any of that money soon. Any compensation from Sheikh Mohamed’s office will go to the land-lord who refused to even turn up for any of the court proceedings!

In the meantime, my brother is now forced to take up another job to pay off the huge debts he amassed! Dubai Cares ... its more like Dubai Scares!

Interestingly, I know of a restaurant which has been trying to open a branch. They have been at it the last 4 months, but has not got very far thanks again to the Dubai Municipality! However, the landlord has been promptly collecting on the rent.

DTCM are magicians, but the hype is starting to fade and I am moving my business to Bahrain – thanks largely to being caught in the Etisalat / Du feud & the escalating costs.

Thank you and farewell Dubai!

26 May, 2008 17:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmm, so very jealous people here...its a shame you all have to be so delusional, majority of you are obviously jinglies pretending to be brits, cos im telling you know, i dont no anyone who would rather be back living in the uk, rather than dubai...and im sorry, oman?? are you guys serious, people dont want culture or any of that crap, they want drugs,. they want booze, they want whores, celebs by the million, and dubai has all that, ok they dont live here, but there are shit loads in the city each day, jus look whos come in the last year, although i doubt many of you will even know beacuse your so out of touch with reality...people dont want to come see arab culture, otherwise oman would be the number one tourist destination, and you know why its not, cos there is jack shit there...bye bye

30 May, 2008 00:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

god you talk so much crap, do you even live in dubai? dubai is a tourist destination, one MILLION brits visited in 2007, because there are things to do here, clubbing, beaching, celeb lifestyle, etc etc...there is nothing in doha, or abu dhabi except perverts who stare at you...im sorry, ive lived in dubai 24 years, majority of ppl who are saying 'oh it was so much better in the old days' are you on drugs? in the old days when you couldnt do anything, there was NOTHING TO DO, all the locals would stop there cars and wolf wistle at you, seriously some of you are delusional...

31 May, 2008 11:01  
Anonymous Ahmed said...

Thanks anonymous above :)

Many foreigners, Britishers included, would give anything to mvoe to Dubai, and thats a fact. Dubai is probably the most happening city in the world, and thats also fact !

If you are jealous, please either leave or move to Qatar or Oman, Dubai doesnt need ungrateful expats, there are plenty of people who would gladly replace you.

Long live the best city in the world, Dubai!

01 June, 2008 11:29  
Blogger G to tha T said...

"Long live the best city in the world, Dubai!"

Dubai's PR brainwashing at it's finest.

02 June, 2008 03:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai will never meet or exceed other city states such as Singapore or Hong Kong. Infact the enitre region is not doomed but destined to be a curiosity for many years to come.

No onne wants to say it, some of us live in the region but, look around you what is missing from this region.

The answer ANY qualified,dedicated, hard working indiginous workforce.

You cannot create a City or a country without a decent local population.

Look around you, and try and compare the UAE or Qatar with even the poorest Country in Europe. All of them have a harder working, local population and all have stronger Economies than this region. (minus the oil GDP)

Europe, China, America, Thailand care to name a Country, look at them 50 years ago, they were either developed or developing. Here 50 years ago, tents, camels and pearls. Not a grat foundation.

And as for people saying Brits and other want to come here or "kill" to come here.

Those people have swallowed the same PR shite you have.

After reading this and other blogs I certainly wouldn't rush over there.

Dubai right now at 5 million visitors is near if not past its peak. Mark my words.

02 June, 2008 23:52  
Anonymous AlMazroui said...

@ anon 02 June, 2008 23:52

I laugh at your utter ignorance.

To compare nations over a period of 50 years with different geographic, economic and demographic variables is an extreme case of bad science and bad judgment. And to think that 'public relations' is the sole factor at play with regards to shaping public perceptions within the U.A.E. and out of it, is incredibly myopic.

"Europe, China, America, Thailand care to name a Country, look at them 50 years ago, they were either developed or developing. Here 50 years ago, tents, camels and pearls. Not a grat foundation"

First off, Europe is not a country, and Obviously, you have never been to Dubai 50 years ago. There were people who could read the night sky in the middle of the oceans to navigate and reach ports on far flung continents and trade with other people. a testament to the ability of the people, and speaks well of their moralities and tolerance of other cultures. if i am speaking above and beyond your level now, then let me illustrate to you in a way you could comprehend, look at Dubai ten years ago, and look at it today. No where in a 2,000 mile radius from Dubai experienced the same growth. oh, and you would now say its because of the oil. let me tell you that Dubai has less than 2% of the petroleum of the UAE.

"No onne wants to say it, some of us live in the region but, look around you what is missing from this region...The answer ANY qualified,dedicated, hard working indiginous workforce...You cannot create a City or a country without a decent local population"

Some points you bring up for someone who doesn't know zilch about Dubai, the UAE let alone public and economic policy.

"Those people have swallowed the same PR shite you have"

Just like you have swallowed your false facts you moronic, stereotypical hypocrite.

All that aside, you are off topic! :P

Saif AlMazroui - A proud,dedicated and hard working Emirati.

04 June, 2008 02:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai now and Dubai ten years ago are exactly the same, nothing has changed except the buildings.

Don't confuse construction with progress, a confusion that the rulers of the Country hope will fool people into thinking the UAE is a progessive country.

The argument that oil has not helped the Economy is not enitrely true, although it is true that 20 years ago Dubai was known as a trading post and a convenient place to launder money.

The best thing Dubai could have done was to keep it small, keep things under control and stay off the World radar. They could have created a small well run economy, invested the oil wealth properly for the future, not squandered it on building ridiculous shopping malls and tall towers.

Now I would say Dubai's future is less secure now than it was 20 or even 10 years ago.

04 June, 2008 12:30  
Anonymous AlMazroui said...

"Dubai now and Dubai ten years ago are exactly the same, nothing has changed except the buildings...Don't confuse construction with progress, a confusion that the rulers of the Country hope will fool people into thinking the UAE is a progessive country."

A city is almost the defining characteristic of civilization.

These buildings you speak of are not just massive derelicts that do not influence people. Rather, they are the physical manifestation of the habitation, the workplaces, the recreational spaces, the civic centers of the city.

10 years ago, almost of all of them where non existent. Most importantly, they did not come by accident...

they came by design. by planning. by need. by the people of this land and the world (yes, the blue-clad folks), for the people of this land and the world.

look at other cities in the region, most are ravaged by famine, mismanagement and absence even repression of opportunity. Dubai stands in stark contrast, it unquestionably the most progressive city in the region.

"The argument that oil has not helped the Economy is not enitrely true, although it is true that 20 years ago Dubai was known as a trading post and a convenient place to launder money."

Trading post? almost 31 years ago, we had -and still have- the largest trading harbor in the world. that qualifies it to be more than a mere 'trading post'.

"Now I would say Dubai's future is less secure now than it was 20 or even 10 years ago."

Anyone with basic schooling in economics knows that diversification of assets reduces risk. and that is exactly what Dubai did. Instead of putting all you investments 'eggs' in one 'basket' you create more baskets to put you 'eggs' in.

Ofcourse, you are entitled to your opinions. however how strongly you believe in them has no bearing what so ever on their validity or accuracy.

Oh, do not think that i am making excuses and/or justifying for the wrongs and problems here. if they did not exist, then there wouldn't be any room for improvement, now would it?

And we are still off topic!

Saif AlMazroui

04 June, 2008 13:50  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Saif I really must take issue with some of your claims. While I agree that Dubai is a great city with a lot to offer, despite its many serious mistakes, you do it few favours by making erroneous claims.

A city is almost the defining characteristic of civilization.
Says who? And what kind of city?

Rather, they are the physical manifestation of the habitation, the workplaces, the recreational spaces, the civic centers of the city.
This doesn't really mean anything, nor is it anything to really celebrate. Some large building complexes can be pleasant and vibrant and neighbourly, others are soulless concrete blocks. To my mind, the "soul" of Dubai - or what it used to be - is the Creek, where people of all races and classes mingle among the souqs, like a Roman forum of old. That to me is a finer sign of civilisation - of a "world city" than the concrete hell of Jumeirah Beach Residence.

they came by design. by planning. by need. by the people of this land and the world (yes, the blue-clad folks), for the people of this land and the world.
By the blue clad folks, but not for them. Building built by people who will never be wealthy enough to inhabit them. I don't call that progress, I call that selling out. Rather than properly welcome and house the humble, hard working men who built it, Dubai sells itself to rich, often money-laundering westerners and Africans and assorted oil rich Arabs.

almost 31 years ago, we had -and still have- the largest trading harbor in the world.
I have absolutely no idea where you came up with this "fact", and I have actually tried to substantiate it on your behalf (intensely doubtful as I was) and yet I cannot. If you can substantiate it, by all means feel free to amend the Wikipedia article but don't just make wild claims with nothing to back them up. Jebel Ali port may hold some records, but certainly not the above.

Anyone with basic schooling in economics knows that diversification of assets reduces risk. and that is exactly what Dubai did. Instead of putting all you investments 'eggs' in one 'basket' you create more baskets to put you 'eggs' in.

This I do agree with. Dubai's diversification was critical. Whether it has diversified in the wisest way remains to be seen. But I do agree that Dubai's leaders showed foresight at diversifying much earlier than neighbouring states and emirates, and also at doing things at a speedy pace (even if perhaps too speedy in some instances). They got in first with tourism and business, they built well on their historical trade economy, and they are reaping the benefits at least to the present time.

04 June, 2008 14:23  
Anonymous AlMazroui said...

The first traces of civilization was the formation of cities in ancient Mesopotamia. That was the first *known* instance of human migration into urban settlements. to my knowledge, this occurred in 3500BCE.

"Rather, they are the physical manifestation of the habitation, the workplaces, the recreational spaces, the civic centers of the city.
This doesn't really mean anything, nor is it anything to really celebrate."

How could it mean nothing?

besides my point to the anon was those structures where not just concrete and steel, they are to be used for living in and making a living out of.thus transcending the physical form and having meaning and function.

Confucius said (something along the lines of): The utility of a tea cup does not depend on the clay, but it depends on the void that will be created by the shape of the tea cup. (the utility being the physical form of the cup to carry the liquid)

Also the correction:

"...we had -and still have- the largest trading harbor in the *ARAB* world."

addendum: not just the largest in size, but also the volume of the cargo containers shipped.

Sorry about the confusion, SecretDubai.

Oh and great blog by the way :) i cant wait for more interesting stories! keep it up!

Saif AlMazroui

04 June, 2008 15:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear AlMazroui and AlFalasi,

With you AlMazroui I don’t need to discuss most of what you said, by your own words you are infatuated with the buildings and actually think they matter, think that the Economy is REAL and was created by hard working locals, and think that you HAVE a harbor. Harbours are ports of commerce and it will be a ghost harbor just like the ghost towers behind it if problems aren’t solved.

The reason no one has presented much solutions like Al-Falasi suggested or cared to provide positive criticism is two folds:

Number one: When criticized, UAE blocks, so you obviously DON’T want to hear any.

Number Two: Most solutions are actually the problems with the word “STOP!” added before it. Here’s are several examples:

STOP building all over the place at once, turning the whole city to a crazy construction site and suffering from cement shortages and lack of supervision.
STOP trying to monitor or regulate car-pooling.
STOP kicking families out of shared dwellings.
STOP hiking rents when there’s no supply shortage anymore.
STOP blocking the internet.
STOP monopolizing local services like taxis, telecommunication and master development.
STOP preventing foreign ownership of companies and the country wants and needs it, forcing a shady system of sponsorship.
STOP installing Toll-gates and finish building the roads and infrastructure the country promised to the World (By 2010 we will have 400 interchanges!!).
STOP making up laws on a whim to protect personal interests and then make expats feel stupid by saying “It’s for the good of the country”.
STOP kicking bachelors out of shared dwellings with a week’s notice in what the government decided to designate as family zones overnight, while harboring prostitutes and sending police cars that do nothing but make sure they’re not too noisy when they fill the streets at 3 am.


Here’s a good one too:

STOP being hypocritical in everything being said and done today, lying with a straight face on economical figures, financial reports, property market prospects, freedom (as we write this in a blocked blog!) and hiding higher crime, increasing corruption, rampant inflation, and the real reason behind locking the citizenship, which is protecting the local population’s (yes, the hard working local population) number one job and money source: company and visa sponsorship.

You still want to make things better? STOP running after sources of pride and actually solve the problems. All day long, the biggest this, the highest that. It was quite funny when Gulf News put all of 5 conditions just to make a superlative description of Dubai Metro: the LONGEST driverless (1), suspended (2), inner-city metro (3) built in one phase (4) outside of Japan (5).

The city planning and the buildings were designed by Western companies, supervised by expats, and built by the hands of blue-collar asian labour, and paid for by the hard working workforce of the World who paid you for the oil they need for their cars. The bottom line is the UAE receives the money for the oil and signs the Cheques for practically everything else, that’s all.

Yes, sure, there are some respectable characters in power who studied abroad (hint?), and have good minds and vision, and many good hearted local philanthropists who did maintain gratitude to God and proper respect to the world around them by giving back to the poor and establishing centers of learning or healing or some other support. But the general attitude of the country’s government right now is not solving any of the community’s problems that itself has created or caused or failed to address with simple planning over the past 5 years, and the general attitude of most of the local population is to ride the sickest cars and sleep in the top hotels, and to show-off. The more you seek pride by self-declaration, the less you get, and I am sure you think that people respect the UAE culture after all the times locals DEMAND it. We don’t, we perceive it as arrogance and phony.

So you want to fix the problems? DO SO. A few suggestions are above, AlFalasy. AlMazroui, you want to be proud? Carry a brick and lay it please or pour cement since you mentioned Mesopotamia (reread by the way, your information is wrong). Why don't you drive people around in a taxi? Stand in a school and teach all day, or attend a gas station. Are you working hard? (For clarification the "you" here is plural for local population) like the two locals which my company hired and never show up because the UAE says we can never fire them. Unless you're a police or army officer or a government employee all paid in truckloads of money and CAN be fired, I don't think so! Are you fishing for pearls yourself? Are you testing in some lab a chemical combination that might produce a better compound for industry? Are you standing in the heat with "yes sir" waiting for company transportation from the construction site or its field office? THAT is what creates an economy, a city, a civilization, and a culture, not paying for a bunch of glass buildings.

You should think about those rather than again trying to force “PROUD” on people’s opinions with hot statements and baseless arguments about the greatness of UAE. DO something that makes you proud and tell your local friends to do something that makes them proud and presents usefulness to the World. Discover something, invent something, create a technology, manufacture instruments of the future, instead of having 75% of the country’s income coming from consuming a decreasing natural resource and selling basic services from licenses and visas to bank accounts and office space.

Dubai Warrior

04 June, 2008 16:31  
Blogger Shaper85 said...

Wow Dubai Warrior - what an eloquent and articulate comment. You should start your own blog if you haven't done so alredy.

04 June, 2008 17:10  
Blogger Kyle said...

Dubai Warrior:

How long did it take you to conjure up that litany of a comment of yours?

Because not only is it awesome, its hard-hitting, right down to the core and what I’d call taking off your gloves for the knockout.

Well done!

05 June, 2008 07:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took 25 minutes, but required twenty five years in dubai, to write it.

Thank you both for the comments. Starting my own blog? hmmm, I certainly written a lot before but never a blog. How to bring readership traffic or html it, is a bit beyond me. I'll try to figure it out bit by bit but any help would be greatly appreciated.

Dubai Warrior

06 June, 2008 20:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai Warrior, you have nicely summed it up better than I could above. Very good post and very accurate.

To be honest there is no come back for that for any local from the region.

One thing I will add, will people stop mentioning messopotamia and the cradle of civilisation and all that.

That would only be something to brag about IF you had actually done something with it. You invented language and civilisation did you OK then why is the entire region basically a very large sink hole full of poverty and hardship.

You have been resting on your laurels really havent you

07 June, 2008 02:04  
Blogger Kyle said...

Dubai Warrior:

Whatever time it took you to write that comment, every second reading was worth it.

Let me tell you that readership traffic is generated over a period of time. One way to do it is to start posting label comments on other peoples’ blogs & they in turn click on your name.

The rest, as they say, is history!

For html codes, use this page as a tutorial. Scroll down to HTML Tags Chart (halfway down the page) and you’re good to go!

07 June, 2008 08:05  
Anonymous Saif AlMazroui said...

Dear Anonymous Dubaiwarrior.

I wish to express my gratitude and maybe even applaud you for your courage in voicing your opinion in an honest and manner. With that said, I just wish to follow up on your comment by maybe presenting a contrasting viewpoint that i hope would enlighten the audience. It is my firm belief that it is in the intersection of different ideas that breakthroughs occur. And it is in that spirit i choose my words and hope they do justice in conveying thoughts sincerely.

The incautious transfer of assumptions from one context to another propagates misunderstandings and that in turn brings nothing but disaster. This is why I will take it upon myself to answer to some of the statements you made. if some of my statements happen to contravene with yours, know that my intentions are not intended to be, in any way, hostile and that i wish to further this debate as constructively as i could.

"Number one: When criticized, UAE blocks, so you obviously DON’T want to hear any."

Well, If i did not want to subject my opinions and assumptions to criticism, i would not have bypassed the proxy to read this blog and leave comments on it now would i?

"Here’s a good one too: STOP being hypocritical in everything being said and done today, lying with a straight face on economical figures, financial reports, property market prospects, freedom (as we write this in a blocked blog!) and hiding higher crime, increasing corruption, rampant inflation..."

I do not know about you, but i would rather put up with a government that would systematically deny rights to a group of people, than a government that would commit systematic perversions of international law and universal justice by committing heinous crimes against humanity while all the time shamelessly flaunting freedom and democracy.
(I do hope you got the point i am trying to make by the aforementioned paragraph. Hint: it has something to do with hypocrisy maybe even double standards)

"...But the general attitude of the country’s government right now is not solving any of the community’s problems that itself has created or caused or failed to address with simple planning over the past 5 years"

For good or ill, We -the citizens- take precedence over non-citizens presently living in the country. I believe this is a right every sovereign nation in world grants its citizens.

"...and the real reason behind locking the citizenship, which is protecting the local population’s (yes, the hard working local population) number one job and money source: company and visa sponsorship."

The "real reason behind locking up the citizenship" is not nearly that outlandish. its much more simple. We natives are a minority within our own country, and that means, if we were to maintain our sovereignty and sense of national identity, it becomes imperative to restrict citizenship to native born Emaratis.

Oh, and we do not have a number one money source im afraid. Its the norm here to have more than one source of income. and the ownership of micro businesses is facilitated and even encouraged, this is especially the case in the northern emirates.

"The city planning and the buildings were designed by Western companies, supervised by expats, and built by the hands of blue-collar asian labour, and paid for by the hard working workforce of the World who paid you for the oil they need for their cars. The bottom line is the UAE receives the money for the oil and signs the Cheques for practically everything else, that’s all."

Oversimplified would be an understatement. :P

Ah! so if it all doesn't work out, we will blame western companies, Asian labor and the every person who filled his car with gas? Besides! How come our next door neighbor Saudi Arabia, which should be signing checks for 80 odd years now did not reach the prominence that our little city had reached?

Sarcasm aside, i wish to bring up another important point: We do not live in three worlds, we live in ONE world. don't let anyone tell you otherwise. What happens in one side of the world has direct implications on another side of it. and only if we all work together could we avert the challenges our world faces today.

"So you want to fix the problems? DO SO. A few suggestions are above, AlFalasy. AlMazroui, you want to be proud? Carry a brick and lay it please or pour cement since you mentioned Mesopotamia (reread by the way, your information is wrong). Why don't you drive people around in a taxi? Stand in a school and teach all day, or attend a gas station."

Personally, i have no problem with manual labor. and i find no shame in doing any of what you mentioned. I even think it is a good thing. maybe if schools have a mandatory community service requirement, it would go a long way in instilling discipline into our youth. ;)

But considering the reality on the ground and the fact that we 20% of the population. and that we are surrounded with countries high in unemployment or poverty. foreign labor becomes a realistic and even valid option.

This is beside the point, but i think its important to say it. I really hate it when some people equate manual laborers or domestic servants as indentured hands or even slaves! these people come here by their own volition, and they get compensated for their efforts. sure, you may hear of stories proclaiming otherwise. But to make sweeping generalizations about all of who employ these workers is utterly false.

And please feel free to correct my information about mesopotamia. i didn't read a history book in ages!

"Are you working hard? (For clarification the "you" here is plural for local population) like the two locals which my company hired and never show up because the UAE says we can never fire them."

Again, do not let two lackadaisical bozos cause you to make overarching assumptions about ALL of the local workforce.

"...You should think about those rather than again trying to force “PROUD” on people’s opinions..."

Never was it my intention to force anything on anyone. letting them decide by themselves is much more effective. :)

"DO something that makes you proud and tell your local friends to do something that makes them proud and presents usefulness to the World."

Believe me, my friend, that was always the motivation behind my actions.

AlMazroui

07 June, 2008 10:38  
Blogger Dubai Warrior said...

Saif,

Obviously you're not listening as much as you should and again trying to make statements to the effect of your non-relenting message, that UAE is the greatest country in the World and everything happening is hunky dory. Your logic is flawed again and your arguments are more than self-defeating. When UAE blocks, it shows the COUNTRY doesn't want to LISTEN. Nobody was talking about how you are subjecting your opinions to criticism.

I am happy though you chose your style of cool discussion, although your second paragraph and ending statements made me honestly want to ask you: Why the pretentious language? It's obvious you speak and write excellent English but why the over-sophistication? Especially when you combined it with a hint of pompous attitude that only amuses those stiff distinction seekers with their laboured fake attempts at appearing superior. It was... silly at best.

In a way that reaffirmed and confirmed my own argument that a large portion of the local population is much more involved with themselves, how they come across, their pride and prestige, rather than deal with what's going on. You must have noticed that and I hope you don't think that this is actually the way of impressing anyone: that is to completely and utterly ignore the point of the original article, the comments, and the whole set of conversations on this page, in favor of running back to your topic of how fantastic is the country as a whole and how the history of the region is a proud one and a basic sports club attitude of "Emirati's rule!"

Seriously, it's NOT about you, and as I said earlier, your logic is flawed and arguments are self-defeating. I am alarmed at your most astounding statement yet:

"I do not know about you, but i would rather put up with a government that would systematically deny rights to a group of people, than a government that would commit systematic perversions of international law and universal justice by committing heinous crimes against humanity while all the time shamelessly flaunting freedom and democracy."

Are you seriously referring to US foreign policy? What does that have to do with anything here? This is what you come up with after starting your comment with reference towards taking things out of context might lead to disaster?

And more importantly are we going to play that endless game now? You claim this is the best country in the World, we say no it's not because of so and so and so problems now, you respond by saying "well, there are worse places, this is good enough" and once we ask why then lie and propagate the UAE as the best country in the World, you jump back and shout out that if we don't like it we can leave and go back where we came from, and since we're not leaving then UAE must be the greatest place in the World, and so on and so forth. Seriously Saif you wanna go there?!

Additionally, to answer your question simply, it's NO, you DON'T know about me or anyone else obviously because as far as I am concerned: NO, I wouldn't rather put up with such a government. More importantly however, your attempt at referring to the government with two contrasting descriptions actually ended up with BOTH descriptions applying familiarly to the UAE government. I can certainly confirm from my professional capacity in this industry that International financial laws of anti-money laundry are completely ignored here, and I think everyone knows that labourers are working under laws and systems that are a perversion and a denial of basic human right and dignity. So what are you happy about here? The fact that the US, by wide opinion believed currently have the WORST government in the World, is doing something similar in its own foreign policy does not excuse the UAE one, especially when we were NOT called to the states by straightforward invitation under guise of magnificent development, prosperous lifestyle and proper governance.

If you think that the local government is so hot and the UAE did not build all this from oil revenue, how come Fujeirah and Umm Al-Quwain look like World War II Era bedouin towns, where if you remove the cars and satellite dishes would be a great set to shoot the next Indiana Jones movie scenes (speaking of which, according to your statement about citizenship controls, bedouins should have been the first to be given citizenship for being the heart and soul of the culture here, instead of denying them too and putting unrealistic obstacles for them).

If you believe that the UAE government is doing a great job, then what do you think are the future prospects when Dubai runs out of oil in 2012 and Abu Dhabi runs out in 2035, based on the current trends of denying clear cut rights to expat communities and driving out talent and investment money out of the country?

And regarding your second statement about the government to provide for citizens at the expense of non-citizens, the answer is a huge resounding NOOOOOO it is NOT the right of ANY nation to harm or deprive legal residents in this way in favor of citizens, where on earth are you coming from?! Your last name, Al-Mazroui, is a big name and I shudder to think that someday you'll grow up and inherit a company or take government office while having these twisted ideas and facts in your head! No country around the World has such discrimination between citizens and legal residents that were given work permit and right of abode. Egypt that hikes the site-seeing entry charges and hotel rates for tourists, would grant the heavily discounted Egyptians rate for any foreigners showing a residence, whether work or permenant. The US grants right of land buying, company owning, and everything a citizen enjoys except voting for green card holders, and so do the UK and Europe and the World.

And even still, even if the UAE government suddenly wants to watch over its citizens and completely disregard expats, why sell properties and pimp out the country like there's no tomorrow, attempting to attract more and more of the latter?

And even still, do you actually think that those problems are in some way GOOD for the locals? Traffic jams and Salik charges, prostitutes all over the streets, prohibitive rents, government ban on cheap calls over the net, draconian laws of who lives in what and who rides with whom, etc. are better for the locals? What logic are you using, Saif?

Go to "An Emarati's Thoughts" blog and you'll see the misery and mismanagement of the country from the local perspective. The uncoordinated weekly changes and decisions of the government are hurting everyone, and what this article and blog and this whole outcry is about is WHERE IS DUBAI GOING AND WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT HOPING TO ACHIEVE?! WHY TAKE A 40 YEAR OLD SUCCESS AND ACTIVELY RUN IT INTO THE GROUND IN JUST 5 YEARS?!

With all due respect, Saif, it's not about you and your attempt at maintaining a false image of superiority or pride or your obvious desperate labourious efforts towards being right, or coming across as learned or sophisticated. What are you, 15? maybe if you're that age indeed, then we can forgive such insecurity and immaturity, but whether or not you are, that's not what anyone here cares about. It's their livelihood and whether or not there will be companies and jobs for those expats and locals alike tomorrow, whether we'll wake up in the morning and find a new draconian law to pay a daily toll for breathing, or instantaneously freeze our investments if we move money, or kicking our families out of the country if the kids are a certain age. Latest is just today: freelance gardeners hired by residents of Emaar built developments will be fined Dhs 10,000/- if along with tending the garden of their client, happen to be caught washing the client's car!! What stoned hash-brownie stuffed knob came up with that one?

People are discussing here to come to decisions, decisions like should they just move out of Dubai or run from UAE altogether? Are there changes or solutions on the way or is this the final destination of where this country wants to go? What is going on and where is any progress or relief expected to come from? Should we tolerate and weather out a storm, or is this slowly turning into a mess that will remain that way?

These are the real concerns here that were being stifled by media blockage, thinking that it will isolate the sentiments. It won't, it merely reaffirmed it and can indeed trigger an exodus that harms everyone, starting with your local community and the great UAE economy. Just like your comment has affirmed that you are indeed not bothered about what really happens but how it looks like.

If I ask you to stop arguing you'll only come back with more and more squabbling and arguing, and like I said your logic and opinions are skewed at best anyway. But for your sake, mine, and everyone else's, if you'll come back with a response, come back with a meaningful and an honest one that is RELEVANT and HELPFUL, or don't come back with one at all.

Dubai Warrior

08 June, 2008 00:16  
Anonymous AlMazroui said...

What i stated above is nothing but my opinion. I do not think of it as something trivial, nor did I try to force it upon anyone. I am more than open to listening to other peoples opinions, and not only tolerate those very opinions, but also have some appreciation for them. reciprocation is expected. I said earlier, that in the intersection of the unique perspectives is where breakthrough successes occur. And that is why I expressed my gratitude to you in the opening of my previous comment.

I was reading your last comment, You were doing alright, but then it came down to personal attacks against me, not my words, you lost touch of what i was saying, let alone some of your credibility.(since when did using the tactic of ad hominem serve to weaken arguments or further discussions constructively?) and you thought of me stereotypically: someone who proud and disrespectful, unlearned and emotional. Well, i can only apologize for not fitting the stereotype. Also, I would like to add, that my age has no bearing in what is said, and to use that to attempt to refute some of my opinions is unbecoming of what you stuck me as. A decent, imaginative, age wizened expat living in Dubai. It is Human to err, but errors in and of themselves are not 'wrong'. what you decide to do about them has the potential to be 'wrong'.

Let me reassure you that i was not trying to be, do or say something I am not. if I a came across as someone feigning superiority, or laboriously trying to be right or what not, know that it was neither my intention nor motivation. I also want you to realize that we are "talking" trough a virtual and an electronically mediated environment, that means we do not have enough communicative cues to make those judgments.

I have stated many times before, that it is not my intention to force anything on anyone. this statement is not false and still remains true. If in some way i appeared overly proud of my country, know that it was because i love my country. that is something personal between me and myself. but please do not jump to the false conclusion that i sought to somehow force people to be proud of my country.

While I will not reply on the reply of my earlier comments, know that presenting extreme non-realistic examples to illustrate some of your points will not serve but widen the divide of misunderstandings and polarize the discussion table into us and them, right and wrong, true or false or other subjective extreme that will not do justice to all of us and more importantly will not solve any of the challenges we face.

Please remain optimistic and opinionated! and thank you.

Saif AlMazroui

P.S. Congratulations of your new blog :)

08 June, 2008 02:51  
Anonymous AlMazroui said...

correction:
P.S. Congratulations *on* your new blog :)

S.M.

08 June, 2008 04:31  
Blogger Dubai Warrior said...

Hi Saif,

First off, thank you for your congratulations on my blog. I appreciate it.

In my earlier comment I was indeed hot on you, and yes I may have made a small attack here or there, but let's be honest: you had it coming! :o) Your own comment, not only ridiculed the situation and our opinions, but sort of ridiculed us with the writing style.

This last one does not, it is indeed one that I can say we can agree on principals and cause, and also agree on disagreeing on immediate opinion, and we can certainly say at the end of such discussions: "till the next time, friend." After all we all want the same thing, that Dubai goes back to being great. Not necessarily exactly as it was, but just great and truthful to itself and actually delivers on its promises.

I mean think about it, I wouldn't live in this place for 30 years hating every moment, would I? Whether or not we have citizenship, we belong, and we care, and we want it to be good. You're most passionate about what you care about, and we truly care about Dubai.

One promise I can give you, I will always be honest, and WILL remain as hardhitting with my opinion as hard as this celtic war-hammer that is my icon. To be optimistic though... well I can REALLY use something to make me so from this city! ANYTHING!

So, till the next time, friend.

Dubai Warrior

09 June, 2008 00:40  
Anonymous Dubai said...

i'm an avid reader of your blog, just sad that now it has been blocked...

22 July, 2008 14:46  
Blogger Melanie Nelson said...

At first glance I thought the title of this post was 'Beware Boredom'. How appropriate for the lifestyle in the UAE, I thought! Well, its something I work to overcome...

25 July, 2008 23:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Al mazroui and Dubai warrior are two people who can really help out a lot if they managed to set some of the policies in this country together. A wonderful and very insightful read. The argument was fantastic on both sides and personal attacks apart I think Dubai warrior has really stated some of the expat concerns for Dubai and Al Mazroui has also in some way tried to justify them. I hope you guys have more debates like this at least to see where the avg expat and local differ in opinions.

14 September, 2008 14:12  

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