I would have finished this article with one sentence; George Bush liked Dubai and praised it for its ‘political prosperity.’ That would have permanently sent the glory of Dubai to the ditches and you would merrily concur. (After all that rhetoric of democracy and American intervention in a dozen countries under the pretext of democracy, Bush still praises Dubai for its ‘political prosperity’. I praise Bush for his sheer knowledge on the manifesto of stupidity)
But for the benefit of those who don’t know who George Bush is, you guys can read on:
Dubai is one of the seven states of the United Arab Emirates that was formed in 1971 after Independence from Britain. As we all by now know, Dubai’s economy is driven by its powerhouse commodity; oil. In 1950, Abu Dhabi was the first state to discover oil fields. Subsequently, large amounts of oil were discovered in Dubai.
Since the oil boom, Dubai has worked at a frenzied pace to build. The kings of Dubai knew that when oil was to go bust, their political clout will have little or no say. Understanding this ephemeral economic boom, the rulers were quick to cater to who mattered. Much of the services Dubai has to offer are for the Westerners. The tourism industry is growing at 30% a year despite oil being its chief revenue. The dependency on oil is steadily being supplemented with the tourism boom. The catch in this shift in revenue is that the dictates of the western consumerism must be paid heed to. And if there has to be a steady supply of western consumers, political brokering should be manufactured with Washington. It’s very much a quid pro quo situation. This argument can be best understood during the recent Bahrain revolutions when Saudi Arabia sent its Army to quell the protesters.
This real threat about the entry of Saudi and other Gulf forces into Bahrain to confront the defenseless Bahraini people puts the Bahraini people in real danger and threatens them with an undeclared war by armed troops
Impinging on a country’s sovereignty and the right of the people to peacefully protest is a blatant violation of democratic principles. But then, the sheikhs and kings of Arab may argue, what democracy? And the asinine might speak about the economic credibility.
This megalomaniac desire to make Dubai the true jewel of the Arab world has come at a cost. Multi Million dollar horse racing competitions are held to please the rulers of this state, and western celebrities flock the land to witness its Las-Vegas like life. Dubai is said to have been afflicted with the –est syndrome. The lust to build the biggest, largest, fastest.
The WWW is replete with stories of labour torture in Dubai. These articles can be read even in sites like the BBC which is considered impartial. Real life incidents of many people support facts of gross human right violations in Dubai. Even Al-Jazeera, which is viewed by the westerners as an extremist newspaper, has stories of horrific wrongdoings in Dubai. I will not dwell into the specifics; they can be read in abundance on the internet.
Yet, Dubai’s real story lies in its story of how a desert land was built on the idea of cheap labour: for which many have died and continue to suffer.
Dubai has suffered badly from the reckless speculation in real estate markets by its elite who were used to buying and selling property within a matter of weeks by leveraging free-flowing mortgage money. Dubai was not only the recipient of foreign capital but had invested heavily in promising investment destinations all across the globe. But the interconnected nature of today's global economy ensured that the carnage which hit financial markets in Europe and America traveled to the shores of Dubai. The rising oil prices had to some extent insulated Dubai from the crash but not for long as global demand for oil plummeted; plunging prices to an all time low in a span of four months
Sometime in 2009 when Dubai defaulted on some of its borrowings, it sent ripples around the world. The stock market in India too plunged hearing the news. Abu Dhabi, its sister emirate came to the rescue of Dubai. The rulers of Dubai want the impossible to be possible and will stop at nothing to achieve this. A ski resort was built in the middle of the desert state, the global warming implications completely ignored.
As our information on Dubai and much of the Gulf is limited as they do not pose an immediate threat to the US. On the other hand, our knowledge on China is vast and even the common man with the simplest knowledge of reading newspapers is quick to point out China’s shenanigans. As I read articles on Dubai – real life incidents, I was shocked at the parallels I could connect with China. If one can condemn the strange and rapacious growth of China, it is only fair to look at Dubai’s growth critically.
China is currently burning the dollar to the ground and its economic prosperity is at an all time high. All this was achieved after Mao Zedong’s The Great Leap Forward in 1958. If mass genocides can be ignored at the cost of a better booming economy for posterity, then you and me might not be reading or writing this article. To isolate the historical significance and speak eloquently on the current growth is misleading.
Dubai and China are wary with the information dissemination very seriously. A look at the state owned media machine; Gulf news, gives me a nice understanding of the typical propaganda media machine it has fortified. Not a single analysis or critic of Dubai.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech but there is strong regulatory and political control of media content. Publications must be licensed and follow official guidelines on reporting. Foreign publications are censored before distribution. Journalists tend to practice self-censorship.
(United Arab Emirates country profile, 2011)
Recent protests in the Middle East have made the Chinese control its information to the extent of systematically eliminating dissenters.
“…more than four dozen public intellectuals, rights lawyers and bloggers have been detained or “disappeared” by the authorities as part of an ominous new campaign against dissent.
(The New York Times)
There are many more tales about Dubai whose facts I’m not able to verify. My friend’s sister works in the Gulf News in Ras Al-Khaimah. There are horrific stories which I shall not publish in this forum. One tends to appreciate the stability that comes with an autocratic rule. After all a 10% growth solves a lot of problems for the political class, immaterial of who grows. If you sing praises of Dubai's growth, it gives a mandate for dictators to emphasize their reign. And the rulers of Dubai have gone about doing just that. What started off as a pugnacious (Blame me) debate has been an informative research. I hope this article encapsulated a few important aspects we need to understand about Dubai’s growth trajectory.
(n.d.). Retrieved from The New York Times.
Agraawal, S. (2010). The Story of Dubai's Fall From Grace. Retrieved from http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Story-of-Dubais-Fall-From-Grace&id=4045942
Jacobs, A. (2011, April 2). Where ‘Jasmine’ Means Tea, Not a Revolt. Retrieved from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/weekinreview/03jacobs.html?_r=4&hp
Reuters. (2011, March 14). Saudi Arabia Sends Troops, Bahrain Shi'ites Call It 'War'. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/14/saudi-troops-bahrain-shiites-war_n_835734.html
United Arab Emirates country profile. (2011, Feburary Thursday). Retrieved from BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/country_profiles/737620.stm