30 May 2006, Khaleej Times,
DUBAI —“Capitalist dream on steroids”— that's how an exhaustive feature on Dubai is introduced in Vanity Fair, the popular American magazine.
“Expanding faster, taller, bigger than any other country on the planet, spawning schemes of impossible luxury such as Falconcity of Wonders, Sunny Mountain SkiDome, and a man-made archipelago called the World, the emirate has become a juggernaut of tourism, finance and Information Age business, where everything-crime, religion, terrorism-takes a backseat to profit,” says the feature.
Dubai, says author Nick Tosches, is also the land of “sex workers and super-salesmen”.
Dubai, he says, is also where Andre Breton, the 1924 Surrealist manifesto fame, would have realised his vision: of the marriage of dream and reality (that are so contradictory in nature) into an absolute reality, a surreality.
This, says he, is …“a land of hyperbolic superlatives. It is also a land of onrushing change, in which, with accelerating speed, each new superlative-each new biggest, each new best, each new most…-is surpassed by another”.
“Oil accounts for six percent of Dubai’s income. But Dubai no longer needs oil revenues….In 2004 Dubai grew by 16.7 per cent. The accumulated annual growth of Dubai's economy in the last decade comes to 10 percent, among the highest rates of growth in the world.”
The feature draws a parallel between the region and the US in terms of trade: “The region currently has a trade surplus of nearly $26 billion. The United States, by comparison, has a trade deficit approaching $800 billion and borrowing from abroad has raised the nation's (US) debt to a record $8.2 trillion. It continues to worsen.”
Dubai is changing. “Here, where a few buildings rose from the dirt 15 years ago, countless structures now crowd the land and gasp for what space remains." So much so, “… Las Vegas is a sputtering 20 watt bulb compared with this fire in the desert.”
In Dubai, “… there are old-school European aristocrats and nouveau riche slobs. Many here have more ass than class. A lot of manatee men and blubbery wives. Waddling Westerners and Arabs of prodigious girth. Fat rich people, simply put.”
Those were the days. “Free trade and pearling were the foundation of Dubai’s economy…After that Dubai's main export was dried fish… Its ports also served as primary channel to gold smuggled into India,” says the feature.