My friends say: “It’s fake.”…“It has no culture.”…”It has no history.”… And I reply: “You’re right! Even my Dad, at age 76, is older than Dubai.”
Joseph Campbell said, “If you want to understand what’s most important to a society, don’t examine its art or literature, simply look at its biggest buildings.”
History did repeat itself, but it took 2,500 years and jumped 2000 km south. From Hanging Gardens of Babylon to skyscraper of U.A.E., Dubai is touching the sky. High-Fiving with God.
It’s a Muslim nation and relatively a new country. It is in the middle of a desert with ubiquitous sand. During my father’s time, people were Bedouins. Yet the government built tallest vertical city in the world and developing even taller tower, beating the Burj Khalifa leaving the rest of the world light years behind. That is the new history of Dubai.
A traveler/blogger sees the world and provides a window in her writing to that world. This is my small window into Dubai.
My style in writing a travel blog is to write about certain moments in chronological sequence about my visits. This blog is different from my others. It’s my collective personal perspective of all my visits.
I recently visited Dubai for the fifth or sixth time, and that makes me a lucky one. I cut my vacation short in Bangkok and flew to Dubai.
Every time I fly there, I say to myself: why didn’t God make me an Emirati? It’s like I’ve committed a crime to be born in Iraq.
I am not a vagabond traveler. And for a couple to really enjoy Dubai’s amenities, a daily estimate of $600-$800 would be needed.
I believe staying in a nice hotel is part of the enjoyment. I usually say in a nice hotel such as Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa. I enjoy a good lunch in a nice place such as Loca, dinner in one of the nicest places such as Buddha Bar or Sho-cho, and end a night in one of the best places such as Cavalli Club,or having a shisha in places such as Burj Al Arab, Grand Café, or at the Palace Downtown Dubai.
Dubai is, after all, a paradox. Dubai Mall, one of the largest malls in the world, has signs posted on the doors prohibit holding hands between men and women. Yet, it’s ok for men to hold hands. A few new beautiful hotels don’t have bars. And some hotels are prostitute magnets from different nationalities, yet people cannot buy liquor from outside stores, only at the Airport (that I know). An Emeriti would have a servant carrying his luggage, but would pay money to lift weights at the gym. It is the only country in the world where a gold color Bentley is ignored in public parking collecting dust safely. There are big mosques, yet churches with only eye-level crosses that cannot be placed on top of the church.
A prostitute leaves Moscow Hotel at three o’clock in the morning and gets a taxi. The driver would be, most likely, a Muslim Pakistani wearing gray salwar kameez with a turban and long beard, who might be a fundamentalist that would chop off her head in Pakistan, and she would feel safe with him taking her home.
And here is what you would see in Dubai. An Italian would check you into your hotel. An Indian services your room. A Filipino would do your manicure. A Lebanese/Syrian would cut your hair. A Ukrainian would serve your food. An Egyptian would serve your Hookah. A Greek would manage the restaurant. An Englishman would administer the bar. A Jewish person would work with an Iranian in the same company without a problem. And almost every flight attendant from around the world would wish to work for Emirates airlines. More than 100 nationalities live in Dubai from different religious background ranging from those that worship cows to an atheist, all operating without a problem – just like a watch.
And why was the taxi driver obligated to return to the hotel to bring my IPhone? Because he has his skin in the game; a few complaints from customers about him would cause him to lose his job and get deported from Dubai. They deport every foreign citizen that makes problems. The person would be deported faster than falling asleep.
In the language of business startups, if America is a large old corporation, Dubai is a new startup. It was able to disrupt the concept of a nation and rethink the role of government and how it operates.
The government provides its citizens world-class services. Clean and perfect streets, new buses and trains, air-conditioned bus stops, new airport and airplanes, best medical service, citizens don’t have to worry about health insurance, best e-government service, with amenities that don’t exist anywhere else in the world.
With more than 10,000,000 visitors a year projected to increase to 20,000,000 by 2020, Dubai offers free parking lots in downtown with free immaculately clean public bathrooms. Public bathrooms are the best indicator for a clean nation. I suggest going on a promenade in new City Walk.
And most importantly, Dubai’s government didn’t leave one poor Emirati. Almost every Emirati has servants at home. People cannot open a business in Dubai if they don’t have an Emirati partner, making their citizens rich by default.
Here is a YouTube video of the former president of UAE Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan being caught by surprise by one of his sheikhs informing him about some Emiratis renting homes.
In the video showing him saying with emphasis:
“I swear to God, I didn’t know that we have Emirati people renting home…How could Dubai people and other Emiratis live in rented homes? How could a ruler let his citizens live in a rented house?”
He ordered that an Emirati should never live in a rented home.
Ask yourself, does an average American live like that? Not even our American veterans get that much attention and care.
And yes, Dubai has a dark side. It is a class country. The white American and British are the second class. They run the country as servants to the Emiratis. Then followed by rest of Arabs as third class. I am an Iraqi-American; I would be still considered an Iraqi in their eyes, and that would be the same for all third world countries no matter what citizenship they hold.
Then the forth class is the Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Filipinos and alike. Dubai is built on the shoulders of those poor people.
Every Iraqi like myself believes Saddam could’ve made Iraq like Dubai. So why do I wish to born as an Emirati?
It’s because a government that makes its citizens live in spectacular opulence is a country I wish I were born in. Who wouldn’t? Iraq didn’t offer to let me live like that. And in America, I am still chained at the second floor of Maslow’s pyramid by the shackles of a 30-year mortgage and an employment – a few paychecks away from a financial disaster.
Did I mention that regardless if you are born there, if you are not of Emirati descent, you would never get citizenship? Yet I wonder about how many Emiratis hold American citizenship.
Oh yeah, and poor those primitive Babylonians. If one of them traveled in time to our modern world, what would he tells God?
Have the last word in the comment below:
P.S.1: Remember share, like, and comment are karma acceptable. Do your part
P.S.2: If you enjoyed the story, please follow from top right corner to have the next story delivered to your email.