Saturday, March 18, 2006

Dubai Got Soul!






(Pictures by Beirut Notes)
The Dubai Skyline, yoga in a public garden, the morning sun and a very special afternoon nap

Dubai is not the artificial city I knew. It not only lives but it never sleeps.
It is cosmopolitan, multicultural and free.
Relatively to Lebanon, people here are not judged because of their race or religion, they are judged by their success. It is harsh but fair.
There are beggars, bums, congestions, prostitutes, bar brawls, and passports are being given to long term residents, no matter what their religion is.
This reminds me Israeli PM David Ben Gurion who said: "When Israel has prostitutes and thieves we'll be a state just like any other."
Dubai today is a city like any other.

I walked early one morning along the city's busy "khor" or seal canal promenade where small wooden boats come from India and Iran to trade spices, rice, tires, cars, tvs, dvds, and anything that a large enough dhow can carry.

The promenade is full of merchandise and the smell of spice is in the air. Pakistani, Iranian, Indian and African seamen are busy transporting goods from and to their parked dhows. There are no policemen, no customs, there is just a fixed camera monitoring the boats that enter and leave the estuary.

The Lebanese community is prominent and powerful. It is sometimes referred to as “the Lebanese mafia” especially in sectors that we dominate like advertising and higher education. Sometimes, when we outfox them in a business deal, the Brits derogatorily call us “Lebos” as in “Pakis” for Pakistanis.
Indeed there is a healthy business competition between communities, but at the end of the day everyone works with everyone else.

Transparency International declared the UAE the least corrupt Arab country. That is not completely true because even corruption here has been privatized.
Indeed, a portfolio manager in Abu Dhabi told me today that Emaar, one of the largest real estate developers in the world, has manipulated its stock price through its brokerage subsidiary. And Shuaa, a prominent local investment bank, helped it by releasing its stock analysis in coordination with Emaar. This is Wall Street style corruption which if true is criminal but at least it is sophisticated.

Maybe our dear Lebanese leaders should start learning the basics of insider trading and stop "shorting" our lives.

Many Lebanese, including myself, comparing Dubai to Beirut, used to say with pride that "at least Beirut has culture and a soul" but even that is no longer relevant.
If I am wrong and I hope I am, I am sure that our Lebanese Sheikhs of war and their racist and secterian flocks will destroy the little added value that Beirut might still have.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Lebspice said...

Lebos??? These dumb British can't even pick a deragotary name that is catchy or even clever!!!! Why are the British still walking around the world like they are something special??? Sorry, makes my Lebanese blood boil. The pictures are very nice by the way. It's nice to see what Dubai looks like from a Lebanese point of view.

18 March, 2006 18:14  
Blogger grapeshisha said...

Nice to take your view on Dubai. I think the meritocracy that you talk of, is still in the making and much prejudice still exists, but I believe that it is starting to become more prominent.

I visted Beirut and Byblos last year, and loved it. As you saym let's hope the warlords don't ruin your great country. Lebanon without terror would be a tourist haven - such a great place.

18 March, 2006 22:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you that Dubai is a great city but don't paint such a rosy picture.

So Dubai is "harsh but fair"! How is it fair when the entire ground it has been built on has been based on very CHEAP Asian Labor in abysmal conditions.

Since you are quoting Ben Gurion let me give you another quote from the man who also did yoga: "If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country...We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them?...They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?"

This theft will always make Israel a state like no other...So don't go comparing Dubai to it.

And if you think its okay to do a criminal act as long as its in a sophisticated manner...I say this is a hypocracy of civilization.

Beiruti

19 March, 2006 02:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can money buy you soul?

Beiruti

19 March, 2006 02:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can money buy you soul?

Beiruti

19 March, 2006 02:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zadigvoltaire,

2 early 2 label to label it a success. Beirut has soul, so does Dubai. Corruption is rampant in both cities, though highly monopolised in Dubai. The world is awash with cheap credit, high commodity prices and that has greatly benfited Dubai. Success comes with wisdom, modesty and hard work. Wisdom comes with maturity. Modesty is an invariable result of wisdom. Do Yoga and you will know this.

19 March, 2006 20:30  
Anonymous ghassan said...

Zadig,
This post is a request for info that is not related to your post about Dubai.
Can you confirm through some of your contacts in the area whether it is true that Saudi Aramco has blocked access to all Blogger pages? Tnx.

20 March, 2006 01:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saudi Aramco has apparently blocked one blogger page

www.angryarab.blogspot.com

I'm not sure about others

22 March, 2006 01:14  

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