Jonathan Fryer

What Does Dubai Have to Celebrate?

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 2nd December, 2009

The United Arab Emirates celebrates its National Day today, though Dubai’s financial woes continue to dominate the headlines. As one British Sunday newspaper put it graphically, the World — the over-the-top real estate development on reclaimed land off Dubai’s coast, shaped like a map of the world — is slowly sinking back into the sea, as all work on it has stopped. So does the UAE’s glitziest emirate really have anything to celebrate? I remember several years ago officials in Abu Dhabi — the UAE’s capital and most oil-rich emirate — frowning at tne excesses of their brash little brother along the coast, so one shouldn’t be surprised if there is a little schadenfreude in the air there. And some of the Western media — having lauded Dubai to the skies, thanks to free press trips and a bit of Posh and Becks’ stardust — are now metaphorically trashing the place. Of course, the reality is somewhere in the middle. Dubai did over-extend itself and some of its most materialist edifices are too vulgar for words, but it is nonetheless one of the most significant multicultural cities in the world and displays a degreee of tolerance to other cultures and other faiths which even some countries in Europe would do well to emulate.

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