Dubai Post

Bateel Cafe in the Festival City Mall


Dubai is a business…

The ruler of Dubai is also chairman of businesses including the flagship Emirates Airlines and FlyDubai and real estate companies and financial conglomerates and even the horse racing outfit in Dubai. From ruler to businessman to immigrant maid the focus in Dubai is sure: make as much money here as you can, here in this desert, and then use it anywhere, according to your need and inclination: for some to save for the folks back home, for others to buy football clubs, or American ports. Dubai works, and the city is a caution to others to not snigger at the audacious, because the venturesome are only a short distance from their goals even as they appear to slip.

People who are ready for risk have come to Dubai from almost all nations.

A full page article in The Nation last week quoted the Indonesian ambassador's concern regarding the abuse of Indonesian maids in Dubai. A maid has been burned every time she incurred her employer's displeasure; another was strangled but she survived. The ambassador's proposal to his government is to curtail emigration from Indonesia for lesser jobs, and to send their citizens for higher-end opportunities such as in IT. Even if the ambassador's proposal is accepted, will the maids stop trying to come?

Consider the Nepalis who are stealing their way into the Emirates, despite a ban back home against their emigration. The ban was imposed after repeated, extreme abuse of them in the Emirates. A decision by planners will not prevent the outflow of the enterprising. Conditions have to improve at home if you wish to hold back your people.

…more cosmopolitan than any other,

Skimming the Dubai Creek on an abra

"He said I look like a Jordanian!" giggled a girl in the group squatting on a staircase of the Festival City Mall. "Who said that? You look like an Indian!" a boy teased on. I paused involuntarily some steps after them, and they noticed the brown man with his eyes into his iPhone but with his ears tuned toward them. "You look like an Egyptian!" the boy hissed now, and then their voices fell altogether, and I moved on.

Only 16% of the population here are Emiratis. They float about in snow-white dish-dashes, every one of them looking like they bought the day's wear just for the one day—not a spot on the dress, not an errant crease. They seem aloof, but they are friendly and will talk if spoken to. Nowhere in the world is the proportion of immigrant workers so high when compared with the local population. Some Indians have lived here fifteen years, even twenty years, and have no plans to change their domicile, and there's a mention in Joe Bennet's book, of an Emirati island, which is populated exclusively by Indians. Do the Emirati not feel insecure in this situation? They don't show it on their serene faces.

They may have placed their faith in the highly capable Al Maktoum family, in the greatly revered Sheikh Mohammed.

with an Indian finger in every pie,

A heritage preservation, Dubai

Almost half the population is Indian, and that was reflected in their proportion among the audience at the Bryan Adams concert on 17-December. Halfway through the show Bryan Adams wished for a fan to join him on stage, to sing with him. From among the thousands who screamed their eagerness, he chose a petite one with a blue shawl that reached her knees. He told her the number they would do.

What's your name? Jill.

Where do you work? In an auctioneering company.

Do you like Dubai? Yesss…!

Do you know the song? Yes!

Can you sing it? I can try!

After what seemed like a nervous pause the star asked her:

Where are you from?

India!

The crowd roared.

Where in India?

Goa!

The roar went high up.

She astonished the crowd, and surprised even Bryan Adams. "Now everyone is going to say I knew you before," he said. "Who are you with?" he asked. She pointed to the masses, and searched, and searched, and cried: "My husbind!" My husbind!"

Bryan Adams paused for what to say and said finally, "listen fella, if you don't get lucky tonight you"ll never get lucky ever." I don't suppose he meant to mean anything.

as in the business in the lobby bar at The Intercontinental:

A large Emirati was seated next to me at the next table, his dish dash risen almost to his knees, revealing bounteous calves. His sandals dangled from his toes. He had with him a tall fair Indian bearing North Indian features, wearing a beige suit. And a second Indian, shorter of the three, who wore no suit, no jacket, and sat obsequies at the edge of his seat. The Emirati was worked up over a contractor, and spat his name many times: Let me call the man Tanzeer, peace be upon his poor soul. "Don't trust that Pakistani! If you offer him a little he will grab everything, m*****r f****r. Very bad man."

They were talking about projects. The Emirati asked—in due course—how many projects jacket-less could take. After a time, the answer came, a barely audible squeak: "Everything." The Emirati considered the claim in silence.

"Contractor is contractor," he finally declared. And he added: "I don't trust a Pakistani." "I trust what you are saying, sir," he told jacket-less, "but I am telling you, don't trust Tanzeer. He is interested only for himself."

"You are giving Tanzeer a bullet to shoot you, sir. You are telling Tanzeer, 'take this bullet and shoot me!' You are not understanding me, sir," he told jacket-less with much frustration, not happy at all with the extent of concurrence of the Indians.

He went on about Tanzeer. I wanted to listen, to learn what the Indians were up to with Tanzeer, but I'd to leave.

Textile Souk, Dubai