Travel Ideas


“You know what the business community thinks of you? We think that 100 years ago you were sitting around in your tents in the desert, chopping off each other’s heads and that in another 100 years time, you’ll be back there.”

(Matt Damon in the excellent Syriana)

Whatever nobility and stout spirit the Arabs had in their Bedouin days, they lost it with the discovery of oil. Done with chewing old dates and slurping camel milk, the easy money of oil wealth ensured that they could do whatever they wanted.

So they imported a million cheap workers from India and Pakistan to do the actual work and set about transforming Dubai from a fishing village to a messy excuse for a city, with garish architectural monstrosities designed to pull in tourists dumb enough to visit for reasons like that.

The cities feel like they’ve been grafted on top of the dust and the sand, the sky scrapers just glued on to a construction site. As you drive around the country, you get the feeling that the desert is just waiting to claim it all back.

The local Arabs strut around lifting nothing heavier than a spoon, lock the women away, treat the workers like shit and maintain legions of Russian prostitutes flown in for their exotic white flesh. Your only option is to go and get drunk with the desperate expats who are teaching, nursing or doing business here on double hardship pay.