Day 5:42 pm

  • I’ll See Your Double Standard, And Raise You A Dubai!

    The Dubai debt crisis has been extensively covered by the American media in the context of a financial meltdown, and that is an important part of the story, but it isn’t the whole story. The Wall Street Journal had a solid account of the financial aspect of the Dubai debt crisis last Friday titled, Dubai: A High Rise, Then a Steep Fall. The Dubai story that the mainstream media is telling is the familiar tale of a financial bubble leading to an orgy of unsustainable, tacky excess that would make Scott Rothstein’s bathroom look like it came from the pages of Town and Country, and the now all-too-predictable crash, where everyone loses a fortune. Not getting much of a mention is the story of worker slavery, sexual slavery, child slavery, debtor’s prisons, a censured press, political prisoners and environmental destruction on a massive scale.

    The Independent from the UK published a solid investigative piece in April called “The dark side of Dubai.” Revealing is the following exchange between the author and a couple of British ex-pats: My patience frayed by all this excess, I find myself snapping: doesn’t the omnipresent slave class bother you? I hope they misunderstood me, because the woman replied: “That’s what we come for! It’s great, you can’t do anything for yourself!” Her husband chimes in: “When you go to the toilet, they open the door, they turn on the tap – the only thing they don’t do is take it out for you when you have a piss!” And they both fall about laughing.

    The UK Guardian published this piece in October 2008 , “’We need slaves to build monuments,” which gets its title from the following quote: “We need slaves,” my friend says. “We need slaves to build monuments. Look who built the pyramids – they were slaves.” Want more proof? Just type “Dubai + slavery” into Google and check the results. Dubai allows foreign investors, has property rights, no income tax and looks the other way when Westerners drink alcohol.

    Dubai before the crash and even Dubai after the crash is the fashionable new international model for Islamic moderation in the Arab world. Spend some time reading the Brit pieces and then try to comprehend that, according to published reports, celebrities and investors as diverse as Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Donald Trump, Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Roger Federer, the Beckhams (Posh Spice and that soccer guy), and scores of American hedge funds, corporations, investment groups and wanna-be jetsetters have invested in, attempted to invest in or spent a significant amount of time in Dubai. Forget the idiocy of investing in a vacation spot located in a desert without a drop of fresh water, or the stupidity of using your investment capital to buy bonds issued by a bunch of guys who only 30 years ago were riding camels and eating scorpions.

    The moral bankruptcy of the Western world’s cultural, business and political ruling class is enabling a medieval theocracy built on slavery abroad while lecturing the rest of us with their cheesy pop culture morality at home. That’s the true scandal of the Dubai story. Here is David Beckham’s (he regularly vacations in Dubai) public service announcement on children with AIDS for UNICEF , Tiger Wood’s PSA on fatherhood (he reportedly developed a golf course in Dubai), and Angelina Jolie (who bought one of Dubai’s artificial islands) for World Refuge Day, and my New Year’s wish for all the Dubai sheiks and Dubai investors: I hope Dubai defaults on its debt and investors choke on the bonds. I hope the crappy artificial islands of “The World” sink into the sea and that the sands of the desert reclaim the stain upon the Earth that is Dubai.

    Jack Furnari

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