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.