Archive for Category ‘polly tickle‘

Dubai(ous)

Apologies for the terrible pun thing. I am planning on getting a lot of mileage out of it.

Anywhoo, tomorrow I’m off to Dubai for the weekend, to attend a course on behaviour management. Should be a hoot. There’ll be tales to tell I’m sure. With pictures even.

Dubai has a kind of mystique these days, a tiny, fabulously rich desert kingdom where which is reinventing itself as a cross between Michael Jackson’s Neverland and the world’s largest shopping mall. Those are supposed to be analogies but actually it already has the latter, and it may be going the way of the former.

When I tell people I live in Bahrain, Dubai is often the nearest touchstone.

“Don’t they have like a 3rd of all the cranes in the world there?” Probably

“I heard you can ski in one of the malls” Yep

“Aren’t the building [insert as appropriate] an airconditioned beach/a series of islands that look like a world map/the world’s biggest phallic symbol/a theme park twice the size of Disney World (Dubai Land) etc” Most Certainly. And more besides.

All of this in a country that has practically no natural resources (oil accounts for a mere 6% of GDP and isn’t expected to last more than 20 more years), where the native population is out numbered 20 to 1 by foreign workers, and where not even 30 years ago you would’ve been hard pressed to find a paved road and the tallest constructions were minarets.

How could a place like this possibly exist?

Only briefly, unsustainably and perhaps soon catastropically failurely.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but it turns out that other people have done a much better job than I, so I will turn you over to them:

This guy sums it up pretty well:

Short of opening a Radio Shack in an Amish town, Dubai is the world’s worst business idea, and there isn’t even any oil. Imagine proposing to build Vegas in a place where sex and drugs and rock and roll are an anathema. This is effectively the proposition that created Dubai – it was a stupid idea before the crash, and now it is dangerous.[smashingtelly.com]

The New York times wrote a piece about the mass exodus of expat workers

And the inimitable Johann Hari followed up with some of that  Olde Time Investigative Journalisme.

With this guy providing some valid counterpoints to what’s in danger of becoming fashionable “Dubai Bashing” and Hari’s somewhat hyperbolic style.

So go forth, educate thyself.

All this stuff does make me appreciate that, despite suffering from many of the same foibles as Dubai (wholesale environmental destruction, exploitation of 3rd world labour, restrictions on speech and where I can get a beer) Bahrain at least has a vision for the future that amounts to more than “we’re gonna have the biggest shit”. There is a genuine desire and drive towards weening the country off the rapidly drying oil teat and bringing home the realisation that they won’t always be able to throw money at nameless filipino or sub-continental folks to do all the jobs they don’t like doing. The country has a self-improvement plan on the books, but it remains to be seen whether it will be able to deliver on it.

Bleh.

I didn’t proof read this. Its 11.30pm and I haven’t packed yet.

I thought I posted this already

But I apparently I hit a button that did something else instead.

Anyway:

Last week (two weeks ago now), the editor of Sri Lanka’s Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickramatunga, was killed by gunmen whilst driving to work.

The widely suspected instigator of this murder is the government of Sri Lanka, led by Lasantha’s friend of over 25 years, President Rajapaksa.

If this weren’t already enough of a Greek Tragedy of a story, Lasantha, realising that the noose was tightening, editorialised his own death.

Its long, but worth reading, for even a small window into what’s happening in Sri Lanka at the moment, a conflict often oversimplifed or simply ignored in the international press.

http://www.thesundayleader.lk/20090111/editorial-.htm

It ends thus:

If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.

Which is, ladies and gentlemen, Journalism with a capital J.

A billion dollars will buy you…

- Sponsorship of more than 54,000 ‘dollar a day’ children for 50 years.
- Almost 100 Bugatti Veyrons
- One million houses in Detroit
- Bebo (well last year anyway)
- Safe drinking water for everyone in the world for at least a month
- about 666 black market clones of yourself

and of course, 1 billion dollars. As “art”.

What 1 billion dollars will not buy you (according to the ever-so-down-on-their-luck Gulf construction industry)

- Safe transport to and from work for your poorly paid immigrant labourers.

This will in fact (apparently) cost 1 billion Bahraini Dinars. At the current peg of 2.66 US Dollars to the Dinar, that’s a lot of clams.

It would be an absolutely absurd, hilariously audacious claim, were it not for the fact that lobbying from the construction industry has (again) delayed the enforcement of this (2 year old) law and that the Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and others who are the underpinning of this whole 5 star hotel fantasy will continue to be huttled to and fro on the back tray of light trucks. If they’re lucky there’ll be a couple of wooden benches and a makeshift canopy. It goes without saying that the back of a truck usually doesn’t come furnished with nicities like air bags, crumple zones, or even that new fandangled ‘seat belt’ I’ve been hearing about.

Throw in some winter cold, some blistering summer heat, and some of the worst, most reckless driving you’ve (well, I’ve) ever seen, and these people are obviously going to keep getting mangled and killed at a fairly consistent rate.

At least they’re cheap to replace.