Dubai Party Is Over

To be honest, Dubai, as fancy as it is, does not benefit the region one bit. It is a mirage whose eventual disappearance was inevitable. It benefits the few lazy oasis dwellers while it helps pour millions and millions of dollars into multinational corporations, Indian and Filipino workers are treated like subjects while being kept 100 at a time in rooms no bigger than a High School varsity basketball team locker room, only not as clean. Prostitution is rampant. The Russian mafia has a base there. It is used as a hub for human trafficking. It ruined the natural beauty of the desert beneath it. It offers no industry aside from the economically useless Burj Al-Arab hotel with its $600 million bill that was mostly distributed among the few that can actually afford to stay there. Today I hear, people are just leaving there unpaid-for cars at the airport parking as they leave this joke of a country. The best thing to happen to the Bedouins of those sheikdoms would be them returning to “the fundamentals of camel poo.”

There needs to be a serious crises in the Middle East if any change is to take place. And I do not mean war necessarily. This might be the first step (or could be). Next I predict Amman, Jordan. While not as popular as Dubai, Jordan is also going to begin feeling the pressures of the economic crisis. There is already growing tensions due to the rise of prices, lack of jobs and general discontent with the rising number of Iraqis pouring in. Ditto for the always tense Beirut but to an even lesser scale than Amman.

These sort of crises are needed in the region right now. The people are not going to get any poorer. Something will have to give and I hope that it is the regimes. It will be nasty but it is needed. The one major drawback would be Iran’s influence and how it will step in to manipulate the situation to its favor.

The many Arabs who bought into the Dubai bubble need a wake-up call. It will do them some good.

It might not happen for a long time, but someday or other all of those desert kingdoms are going to run out of oil and go back to the desert from whence they sprung.

There are a few spots that are different. Arabia Felix, for example. But they’re not nearly big enough to support the populations. Iraq has a shot at viability. Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria do if they ever put down the swords and integrate, economically, with Israel.

And there’s something not quite right about the way things are going in many of them. We see lots of toys, clothing, tools, etc from China. We see stuff from India. But who ever saw a screwdriver or a pocketknife with a “Made in Yemen” tag on it?

Yes, people get imprisoned for debt in Dubai.

“I’m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,” said Sofia, who asked that her last name be withheld because she is still hunting for a new job. “If I can’t pay it off, I was told I could end up in debtors’ prison.”

With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.

The government says the real number is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai — once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East — looking like a ghost town.

No one knows how bad things have become, though it is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai’s major construction projects have been suspended or canceled. But with the government unwilling to provide data, rumors are bound to flourish, damaging confidence and further undermining the economy.

As nice as the whole concept of Dubai seems, especially when one looks at all the planned developments and how they could turn Dubai into a huge Utopian metropolis, the concept is one that seems doomed to failure from the start.

Everything is too big, too fast, too expensive, too Utopian; it is something that inevitably had to fail since what it was aiming for was simply too much too fast, or simply too Utopian for it to ever actually work.

I think all of those huge buildings built in Dubai were a sign or irrational exuberance! No reason to build a building that can’t fit on a tv screen. I wouldn’t want to live in Dubai! Who would want to live in a country that doesn’t allow Israeli tennis players in anyway?

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