A lot of people have been talking and writing about Johann Hari's piece that appeared on The Independent's website a few days ago. Entitled "The dark side of Dubai", Hari's article was a commentary on what he saw and the people he met while on a recent trip to Dubai.
It's a real shame that so many people from other countries are reading this commentary and taking it as gospel. The people interviewed by Hari are borderline caricatures, and the piece has a very heavy anti-Dubai bias. It's so frustrating to read all the articles that are coming out nowadays that seem to be kicking Dubai while it's going through a rough patch. Most of these articles are written by people who visited for no more than a week or so, and their opinions are quickly-formed and poorly supported.
The Dubai that is never reported in these types of articles is the ordinary Dubai. The Dubai that attracts families and young professionals who see the city as a place where they can live in safety, and prosper securely. This side of Dubai is never reported because it doesn't make interesting reading. It's only the outrageous and scandalous that makes the papers, and as a result the international audience has a severely jaundiced view of Dubai.
It must be said, however, that the treatment of construction workers in Dubai isn't something we can be proud of. In this respect, I agree with most of what Hari has to say, but he only hits on the validity of his outrage towards the end of the article - the division between rich and poor is a global problem that should be addressed on a global scale, it's just that this problem is often more obvious in Dubai than it is in London, or anywhere else.
The idea that Dubai is a place that has grown out of debt and is nothing but a series of concrete and glass skyscrapers is such an unfair characterisation. Dubai does have a history as a trading port, but people from other countries often forget that the UAE is not yet even 40 years old. We've come so far in such a short time, it often makes me think that these articles are meant to scold a city that has exceeded the expectations of what people thought was previously possible. It seems that Dubai has grown faster than others gave it permission to, and now it's paying the price for it's temerity and audacity. This is such a ridiculous attitude. Dubai's prosperity and ambition should be championed. Of course not everything about Dubai is perfect, but if anything, it's major failure has been to model itself on the Western model of free-market Capitalism, which we now see as being inherently flawed in some respects.
What do you guys think? Am I totally off the mark? Or do you feel as frustrated as I do with this avalanche of negative articles about Dubai? Leave a comment and let me know what you think..