Dubai: A morally bankrupt dictatorship built by slave labour

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Johann Hari in the Independent:

Yes, it has Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts and the Gucci styles, but beneath these accoutrements, there is a dictatorship built by slaves.

If you go there with your eyes open – as I did earlier this year – the truth is hidden in plain view. The tour books and the bragging Emiratis will tell you the city was built by Sheikh Mohammed, the country’s hereditary ruler.

It is untrue. The people who really built the city can be seen in long chain-gangs by the side of the road, or toiling all day at the top of the tallest buildings in the world, in heat that Westerners are told not to stay in for more than 10 minutes. They were conned into coming, and trapped into staying. More:

How Dubai’s dream sank in a sea of debt

From the Sunday Times:

As he flew from Dubai to London last Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum had plenty on his mind.In the four years since he had become ruler of Dubai, Maktoum had grown used to courting world leaders to visit and invest in his desert emirate. They admired the economic growth he had fostered as Dubai, fast running out of oil, turned itself into a tourism and finance hub.

Maktoum knew that on this trip he would have to strike a more humble tone. After an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, he met Gordon Brown and Lord Mandelson. The damaging effect of the global economic downturn on Dubai’s growth was on the agenda. The sheikh brought reassurances that angry British contractors, caught up in the emirate’s construction collapse, would eventually get paid.

Maktoum also knew that a bigger test to international relations was brewing. But there were few clues until he had jetted out of London. More:

Bling City is dead, but the desert dream lives on

From the Guardian:

A yachtsman friend of mine was sailing the blue waters of the Persian Gulf off the shimmering coast of Dubai recently when he came across a disturbing phenomenon: The World was dissolving before his eyes.

It was not the grog. Three years ago, when Dubai’s debt-fuelled boom was at its height, the emirate launched its most ambitious project yet – a gigantic offshore replica of the planet Earth, made from sand dredged from the deserts and beaches of Arabia, with countries and continents carved out among a man-made archipelago of 300 islands. It was called simply The World.

Like most things in Dubai, it was for sale. Wealthy celebrities with $20m or so of loose change could buy Britain or France or Australia and erect their own secluded fun palace by the sea. More:


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