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09 April 2009 @ 10:34 am
Signal boost: Article on Dubai  
I didn't know a lot about Dubai. I still don't, really. But whether you're shocked by the bankruptcy laws (hint: medieval, with debtors going to prison), the slave labor or the carbon footprint, there's something interesting for everybody.

The article. Worth reading.
(Deleted comment)
Noahangelbob on April 9th, 2009 08:53 pm (UTC)
Given the remarkable media pressure on Dubai sources, my guess would be that this kind of thing doesn't get revealed often. I'm thinking this journalist won't be able to safely get back in, for instance.
Bayaniarashink on April 9th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
The article was definitely worth reading. The comments in response, not so much.
gf2egf2e on April 10th, 2009 04:41 am (UTC)
My dad works there right now. Actually, he now works in Abu Dhabi rather than Dubai, since they do seem to be shutting down lots of projects in Dubai, whereas there's actually money in Abu Dhabi.

Very interesting article. I think the water pollution is the only part I hadn't heard of before.

One interesting thing is that Dubai is known as one of the *least* racist countries in the region.

The complaints about the behaviour of westerners towards their maids is interesting. I was generally under the impression that westerners were some of the better ones to work for. Hard to say.

I don't doubt that there are many people who are tricked and indebted in the region. The impression that I have gotten is that there are also a good number who are there "willingly". I put quotes around willingly because tehre are lots of people who don't want to be there, but are there purely for the money.

I'm actually surprised that the carbon footprint is only double that of the average American. Oh, wait, I know why. Because a huge percentage of the people there get virtually no resources, that's why. In Kuwait, I can't believe how many stores have their front doors *open* during the summer. It just seems so obviously wrong to walk from 120+F through an open doorway into the mid 60s. Energy efficiency? Conservation? Hah.
Anthonyterpsichoros on April 10th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
"I was generally under the impression that westerners were some of the better ones to work for. Hard to say."

It's obvious from the tone of the article that the author is cherry-picking to paint the worst possible picture he can.

Finding a few really bad householders to complement that picture doesn't tell anything about the average attitudes of Westerners towards their help. That he only found one incident of a maid being beaten by a Westerner makes it clear that the problem is fairly limited within the Western community.

On the other hand, the labor exploitation, where workers are prevented from leaving, and aren't paid, is quite common in countries without a strong rule of law, and while shocking, isn't at all surprising. This sort of thing occurs regularly in China, as well.
gf2egf2e on April 10th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
Actually, IMHO one of the serious social problems that is going on is the raising of local kids by maids. Maids have no authority. They do not get to use discipline in any meaningful sense. They are subservient to the kids. If the kids don't like the maid, they probably get fired.

You can imagine the behavioural problems this causes. My mom has, on numerous occasions, told younger kids to stop misbehaving. The maids are simply looking on trying to clean up whatever problems they cause. She's commented that the maids often look relieved when somebody else tells the kids to stop being brats.

The oil-rich parts of the middle east are an excellent example of all the messed up things that can happen when lots of money is virtually given away for little to no labor.
Anthonyterpsichoros on April 10th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
That's a problem of the rich everywhere; in some places the maids/nannies are given enough authority and in some not.

I haven't heard that Dubai has a bad teenage crime problem, but I suppose the attitudes of maid-raised brats could lead to adults who do or allow of the things which Hari describes in his article. It probably does contribute to the social conservatism/repressiveness of many of the Arab cultures, though - people who don't learn self-discipline generate a need for external discipline.