Dubais Dramatic Drop
By Daniel Pipes
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, February 25, 2009
As the Muslim world settled into ever-deeper
decline over the past decade, mired in political extremism, religious sickness,
economic irrelevance, WMD, anarchy, dictatorship, and civil wars,
Under the leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum,
In three distinct arenas – economics, culture, and sports – very recent developments show how much the statelet has in common with the impoverishing and separating Muslim world.
The huge oil revenues that have been pouring in for two years have nowhere else to go but into more and more real estate speculation. It makes for great business for the developers and their Western and Asian contractors, as well as for the owners - the sheiks, kings, emirs, and their big businessmen friends who own the deserts on which these mirage-like projects are being erected.
formula from their perspective is straightforward: Sell desert land to
investors at a premium. Then double the profits by financing the construction
of artificial islands, lakes, and massive air-conditioned shopping malls,
alongside pie-in-the-sky projects like the largest ski slope in the desert, a
When the music stopped last fall, with a world-wide recession and
the price of oil tumbling over two-thirds, no one got harder hit than the
abandoned-car syndrome results in part from the emirate’s stringent work rules.
As Worth explains, “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
Signs of the new penury abound:
estate prices, which rose dramatically during Dubai’s six-year boom, have
dropped 30 percent or more over the past two or three months in some parts of
the city. … So many used luxury cars are for sale, they are sometimes sold for
40 percent less than the asking price two months ago, car dealers say.
There is every reason to think that the economic descent has just
begun and has a long way to go. As this happens, foreigners are fleeing. Christopher
Davidson, a specialist on the UAE at
When it comes to cultural extravagance, Dubai cedes first place to its neighbor, Abu Dhabi, which in early 2007, announced the “Cultural District of Saadiyat Island” to include satellites of the Guggenheim (costing US$400 million) and Louvre ($1.3 billion) museums, plus about two dozen other museums, performing arts centers, and pavilions.
EAIFL is the first true literary Festival in the Middle East celebrating the world of books in all its infinite variety, with over 50 events featuring authors whose books range from some of the finest contemporary literary fiction to inspirational lifestyle titles, via the magical worlds of children’s, fantasy and science fiction writing. We invite you to share and enjoy their company in a relaxed Festival atmosphere, made even richer by our vibrant fringe which showcases the wonderful and diverse talents from our very special city, Dubai.
The festival boasts authors from twenty countries, including such big names as Frank McCourt and Louis de Bernières.
All good, but the EAIFL hit a bump before it even opened, one that threatens to overshadow the event itself. Never mind “the world of books in all its infinite variety”; the festival banned British author Geraldine Bedell because Sheik Rashid, one of the minor characters in her novel The Gulf Between Us (Penguin), is a homosexual Arab with an English boyfriend; to make matters worse, the plot is set against the background of the Kuwait War.
As Abulhoul wrote to Bedell, disinviting her. “I do not want our festival remembered for the launch of a controversial book. If we launched the book and a journalist happened to read it, then you could imagine the political fallout that would follow.” As for the Kuwait War, that “could be a minefield for us.”
Bedell responded that her novel “is incredibly
affectionate towards the Gulf. I feel very warmly towards it, except when
things like this happen. It calls into question the whole notion of whether the
Emirates and other
Indeed, the biggest name of the Dubai event, Canadian author Margaret Atwood, stayed away in protest at Bedell’s exclusion (“I cannot be part of the festival this year.”), eventually agreeing to appear via video link-up in a debate on censorship to be staged by International PEN at the festival.