The Dubai Dream

This is easily one of the most clever and funny articles I have seen in a long time. What a great imagination! An excerpt:

In Las Vegas the grimy engine that paid for each new chunk of mega-casino was there in plain sight at street level: woozy drunks thumbing coins into slots 24 hours a day. Hundreds of thousands of them, slumped semi-conscious in rows like dozing cattle hooked up to milking machines. Ching ching ching, slurp slurp slurp. It was like watching a gigantic crystal spider increasing in size as it coldly sapped the husks of its victims. Ugly, but at least it made sense.

Where were the coin slots in Dubai? I had no idea. I just gawped at the photographs and was secretly impressed by the cleverness of the people who’d managed to generate so much money they could safely take leave of their senses and construct 300ft buttplug skyscrapers and artificial floating cities shaped like doodles scribbled in the margins of sanity. To my dumb, uncomprehending eyes it looked like a collection of impossible follies. But what did I know? Clearly the people actually paying for all this stuff knew precisely what they were doing.

But ah and oh. It appears my uninformed gut reaction, that slightly worried vertigo shiver, the hazy sense of “but surely they can’t do that . . .” may have been precisely the correct response. Now it’s in trouble, the world’s financial markets seem shocked and surprised, like Bagpuss being disappointed to learn that the mice from the mouse organ couldn’t really create an endless supply of chocolate biscuits from thin air. They should’ve phoned me for advice. If only I’d known. I could have charged a fortune. But then I’m so dumb I’d probably have blown it investing in an artificial Dubai archipelago shaped like Snoopy’s head or something.

In the cold light of 2009, Dubai resembles a mystical Oz that was somehow accidentally wished into existence during an insane decade-long drugs bender. Those psychedelic structures, pictured in a fever by the mad and privileged, physically constructed by the poor and exploited, now look downright embarrassing, like a Facebook photo of a drunken mistake, as though someone somewhere is going to wake up and groan, “Oh my head . . . what did I do last night? Huh? I bankrolled a $200bn hotel in the shape of a croissant? I shipped the workers in from India and paid them how little? Oh man! The shame. What was I thinking?”

The world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Dubai, is due to open in January. It looks like an almighty shard of misplaced enthusiasm: a lofty syringe injecting dementia directly into the skies, a short-lived spike on a printed readout, or a pin pricking a gigantic bubble. Not a shape you’d want to find yourself unexpectedly sitting on, in other words. Just ask the world’s financial markets, once they’ve finished screaming.

Such great writing! I am jealous!

3 thoughts on “The Dubai Dream

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/12/world/middleeast/12dubai.html?_r=1

    “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.”

    Also:
    “Instead of moving toward greater transparency, the emirates seem to be moving in the other direction. A new draft media law would make it a crime to damage the country’s reputation or economy, punishable by fines of up to 1 million dirhams (about $272,000). Some say it is already having a chilling effect on reporting about the crisis.”

  2. Actually i would think this law will backfire and make it only worse. Rumours tend to take on a much larger magnitude than fact.

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