Building Towers, Cheating Workers
April 7, 2009 6:23 AM   Subscribe

The Dark Side of Dubai. "Do-buy" was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging.

Also this blog for an insider's view.
posted by Rufus T. Firefly (64 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
"emerging" like in visible from the beginning for everyone who cared to look?
posted by kolophon at 6:31 AM on April 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


But behind the glitz and glamour of Dubai often lies a murky world of exploitation and an immigrant work force living on the breadline.

BREAKING: UNFETTERED, LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALISM EXPLOITS PEOPLE
posted by DU at 6:33 AM on April 7, 2009 [20 favorites]


Yeah, one of your articles is from 2006.
posted by delmoi at 6:34 AM on April 7, 2009


"Dubai is the best place in the Muslim world for gays! ... We are alive. We can meet. That is more than most Arab gays."

As depressing as all the rest of it was, this was even worse.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:38 AM on April 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think "built by exploited migrant labour" must be one of the better-known facts about Dubai.

But that Panorama interview is new and heartbreaking, so thank you for that.
posted by WPW at 6:38 AM on April 7, 2009


So because we know "capitalism exploits people" and that the human rights watch report was 2 and a half years old, that means we may as well disregard this, right?
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 6:40 AM on April 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


nothing against this post though, asides from the Independent quote. These issiues are worth looking in to.

DU, i'm tempted shorten this to BREAKING: CAPITALISM EXPLOITS PEOPLE.
posted by kolophon at 6:40 AM on April 7, 2009


oh, should have previewed. And Rufus T. Firefly, you should have waited a bit before getting defensive in your own post...
posted by kolophon at 6:41 AM on April 7, 2009


I just finished reading this before coming to the blue. The story is very well written and covers the effects of the recession (as well as the labor issue) from some interesting, new angles.
posted by zylocomotion at 7:08 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


We've discussed this before, several times. I don't see the "breaking news" angle bringing anything new to the table, personally.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:09 AM on April 7, 2009


So because we know "capitalism exploits people" and that the human rights watch report was 2 and a half years old, that means we may as well disregard this, right?

On the contrary, it means they were probably correct. And seeing so-called capitalism exploit labor in Dubai belongs to an interesting historical topic regardless of what people think they know about it already. Thanks.
posted by Brian B. at 7:16 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


that means we may as well disregard this, right?

Not at all. I'd just like to see these problems not attributed to some peculiarity of Dubai. If we talk about underlying causes, maybe we can prevent the next Dubai. ("We" globally, not "we" MetaFilter.)
posted by DU at 7:19 AM on April 7, 2009


You know, I always cringe at the kind of Apocalyptic empty-city scenario people love to spin. It's just such naked wish-fulfillment and baring some extinction level event, is unsupported by history. Cities are fairly sticky and hold on to populations longer than any other area. Even the Mefite-fav Detroit still has thousands upon thousands of people living in it.

Then I think about rising sea levels, and oil prices, and bubble economies, and I entertain a vision of a half-sunken Dubai connected via intricate lattices and rope-work between silent glass monoliths. An Arabian Octavia of sailboats and zip lines.

And I end up having the same Doom Porn reverie that I criticize others for.

Sigh.
posted by The Whelk at 7:20 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dubai's been falling since the first brick was laid down, right? A corporate and leisure oasis that still relies on all other companies that power the global economy to populate its offices, but with the added bonus of debtors prisons and none of that pesky democracy.

If I had some vacation time and a few grand a day to spend, I'm sure I could look down on everyone from the hotel helipad, to see the stream of abandoned cars at the airport and the half-finished structures that weep oil money.
posted by mikeh at 7:24 AM on April 7, 2009


The Whelk, I think a much more apocalyptic scenario is that the city holds on to a population longer than it has jobs, some semblance of property value, and basic utilities. Sometimes being sticky is worse than being able to leave.
posted by mikeh at 7:27 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or does "a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism" kinda sound like a story that starts out ugly?
Not the Arab part, or the Western part, just the glittering, monument, enterprise, and capitalism parts.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:29 AM on April 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


I've always suspected that Dubai is just a huge, elaborate trap designed to lure the gays out into the open so they can be crushed all the more swiftly.
posted by hermitosis at 7:33 AM on April 7, 2009


Well, the Arabs now know what it's like to cling to the fading remains of an empire. We *do* have something in common besides oil transactions!
posted by jamstigator at 7:35 AM on April 7, 2009



BREAKING: UNFETTERED, LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALISM EXPLOITS PEOPLE
posted by DU at 9:33 AM on April 7


BREAKING: SO DOES SOCIALISM, COMMUNISM, ANARCHY, MARRIAGE, ETC.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:36 AM on April 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


The Whelk, I think a much more apocalyptic scenario is that the city holds on to a population longer than it has jobs, some semblance of property value, and basic utilities. Sometimes being sticky is worse than being able to leave.

True, and it's an interesting route to take. But the "Last Man in Manhattan!" theme is much more common. And annoying.
posted by The Whelk at 7:36 AM on April 7, 2009


I'd just like to see these problems not attributed to some peculiarity of Dubai.

Indeed, DU. I wasn't suggesting by this post that there was anything particularly unique about Dubai's exploitation of foreign workers. It is just a local conflation of a series of problems- lack of democratic accountability, lax regulation, labour laws and legal due process, oligarchical rulers etc- which in microcosm re-emphasises more global issues. I agree that hopefully this can help us (the global "we") focus on some of the underlying causes that must, inevitably, be tackled on an international level. Apologies if I came across as initially defensive :)
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 7:38 AM on April 7, 2009


You know, I always cringe at the kind of Apocalyptic empty-city scenario people love to spin. It's just such naked wish-fulfillment and baring some extinction level event, is unsupported by history. Cities are fairly sticky and hold on to populations longer than any other area. Even the Mefite-fav Detroit still has thousands upon thousands of people living in it.

That is true, but because of the demographic makeup of the population in Dubai, the population is not at all sticky. The story in the papers here is that there will be a real exodus when the European/American school year ends in June.
posted by atrazine at 7:38 AM on April 7, 2009


I would be interested in a definition of "exploits" that marriage and anarchy meets.
posted by DU at 7:38 AM on April 7, 2009


Having just spent 10 days lounging in Marrakech with a Morrocan who works in Dubai (he was back to visit his family) I can at least say that he and his family are happy with the situation in that he could never earn the money in Morocco that he does in Dubai. That money goes to support his entire family in Morocco. Exploitative is relative I guess. Isn't this how we built our country? Soon enough, the numbers of imported immigrants become large enough to effect change, hopefully. That's what happened here in America.
posted by spicynuts at 7:38 AM on April 7, 2009


Maybe it'll turn into a sandy Norlonto.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:39 AM on April 7, 2009


They named it after a local locust, the daba, who consumed everything before it.

That is just too perfect.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:39 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is killing me because my brother is a brand new helicopter pilot and his current job prospects are: 1. China, 2. Africa, or 3. Dubai. So, three not so great choices in terms of safety or working conditions, but maybe an improvement over his original plan to work in Colombia. He thinks that Dubai is the best deal and I'm trying to convince him that he should get a degree in accounting or become a repo man, or anything that will keep him from going overseas without knowing exactly what he'll be getting into. The conditions will likely be better for pilots than what poor construction workers put up with, but the fact that he is contemplating ways to use Skype to keep our mom from finding out what country he's really going to be living in should be a big red flag, right?
posted by Alison at 7:42 AM on April 7, 2009


Where are you getting your information that Dubai or "Africa" are poor choices in terms of safety and working conditions? I know several female Canadians who live and work in Dubai. They express no concerns over their safety. Also, Africa is a big freakin place. It shouldn't be painted with one brush as 'unsafe'.
posted by spicynuts at 7:57 AM on April 7, 2009


the first article did inspire some apocolyptic visions for me, but for me it wasn't focused on the usual "the breakdown of society will inevitably lead to more spiked codpieces and ramschackle vehicles tooling around the desert, which would be awesome!" nerd fantasy.

rather, it was more "these decadent bastards desperately need some commuppance, and the ridiculously unsustainable way they are living means they just might get it." It gives me a real End-of-the-roman-Empire feel. though my logical side knows that it would inevitably be the exploited who suffer most if the shit hits the fan, my knee jerk reaction is to want to see those towers FALL.

In particular those westerners who go there to basically have slaves make me sick; for some reason I think they should know better. Just confirms my impression of expats in general, I suppose.
posted by ScotchRox at 8:00 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe we can really crush them with a crackdown on the shadow banking system. Huzzah!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:09 AM on April 7, 2009


BREAKING: UNFETTERED, LAISSEZ-FAIRE CAPITALISM EXPLOITS PEOPLE
posted by DU at 9:33 AM on April 7

BREAKING: SO DOES SOCIALISM, COMMUNISM, ANARCHY, MARRIAGE, ETC.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:36 AM on April 7


Capitalism doesn't exploit people, people exploit people.


Nice post - didn't know about a lot of this stuff - thanks.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:17 AM on April 7, 2009


Dubai sounds like hell-on-earth in every possible way.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:17 AM on April 7, 2009


Where are you getting your information that Dubai or "Africa" are poor choices in terms of safety and working conditions?

'Africa' would likely be between Nigeria and surrounding countries. While I don't doubt that people there work hard, I worry because there are fewer resources and fewer rules. We don't know if rules for downtime will be enforced and if he will be able to refuse to fly if conditions are not ideal.

Really, what I don't like is how few details he has about any of his potential job opportunities. If we knew more about the companies or conditions I'd feel a lot better about this, but it sounds like he's talking to recruiters instead directly to the people he would be working for. Articles like the above about working conditions don't make me feel any better about this. I'm not worried about him being denied food or working bathroom facilities, but it's not so crazy to worry about someone you care for if they're making a risky decision without all of the information.
posted by Alison at 8:28 AM on April 7, 2009


its true, this posting is pretty thin. and how could you make a dated post about dubai without linking to mike davis's article?
posted by yonation at 8:30 AM on April 7, 2009


Bubbles.
posted by bardic at 8:41 AM on April 7, 2009


'Africa' would likely be between Nigeria and surrounding countries.

Ok. Well I understand your worry about your kin, but this is not Africa anymore than Maine to Florida between the Atlantic and Ohio is America. Also, Dubai is not Detroit or even Baghdad. Like I said, I understand the worry but let's not generalize about entire regions.
posted by spicynuts at 9:13 AM on April 7, 2009


but it's not so crazy to worry about someone you care for if they're making a risky decision without all of the information.

Missed this. This is in fact true...but that does not mean you should jump into a thread about a specific issue and leap to conclusions about entire geographic regions due to your worry. Worry is one thing, a discussion of facts and reality is entirely different. Your brother's situation does not equate to the reality of living in Dubai or "Africa".
posted by spicynuts at 9:15 AM on April 7, 2009


mike davis's article?

Wow, that douchebag is still around? At least something finally distracted him from pooping out more and more borderline-fiction about Los Angeles.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:18 AM on April 7, 2009


From the article in the Independent:
One day, after yet another beating, Mela ran out onto the streets, and asked – in broken English – how to find the Ethiopian consulate. After walking for two days, she found it, but they told her she had to get her passport back from Madam. "Well, how could I?" she asks. She has been in this hostel for six months. She has spoken to her daughter twice. "I lost my country, I lost my daughter, I lost everything," she says.

As she says this, I remember a stray sentence I heard back at Double Decker. I asked a British woman called Hermione Frayling what the best thing about Dubai was. "Oh, the servant class!" she trilled. "You do nothing. They'll do anything!"
While I understand some of the names in the gruesome article have been changed, I do hope the journalist used Ms Frayling's real name, so her friends and family in the UK would read and find out who she really is.

While I've known about Dubai's debt prisons, its racist system and how it ill-treats foreign workers there, I was always under the impression that it was a small, but significant part of the overall story. I absolutely had no idea that it _was_ the story, or that in most of the cases, people simply haven't been paid at all. Nor did I know that Dubai had only a _week's worth_ of water supply, that the carbon footprint there is four times that in US, and that debt is 106% of its GDP.

God, that was a deeply troubling story, cutting close in so many ways. Been there way back in 1986, on a stop-over between India and Iran, and am being tempted to swing by the place on a future trip from Singapore to India (Emirates has under-cut SIA by 50% for its Singapore - India ticket, despite shuttling you across India from Singapore to Dubai and then back to airports in India; different tale that) but there's no way in hell I'll ever venture near the town anymore. If I can avoid Burma for its use of slave labour in building tourist-facilities, there's absolutely no fathomable reason why DXB should get an exception on my tourist dollars.

Additionally, I'll remember to be extra polite to the Filipina receptionist downstairs at the hotel, and to tip the Bangladeshi waiter at the restaurant handsomely. Leading the ex-pat lifestyle out here in South East Asia - shuttling between cities on work at the moment - and while it isn't as bad as it is with the blood-sucking creatures being quoted in the article, hubris is an easy trap to fall into when you're moved from your comfort zone and are presented with all these people who do things for you.

And oh, if you're in Singapore and want to learn more about migrant-labour conditions, or volunteer or something, you might want to consider contacting Transient Workers Count Too. There has been some back and forth in the local paper on migrant-worker rights.

Their latest mailer tells me that there's a public talk by a research student on Singapore's laws on 9th April 2009, between 7:30pm till 9:30pm and their Golden Mile Complex office (5001 Beach Road, #06-27). I'm fairly certain this is all but relevant to exactly two people here on the blue, but heck. :-)
posted by the cydonian at 9:45 AM on April 7, 2009 [6 favorites]


This is an excellent article.

Troubling, but good.
posted by UsedToHaveGlasses at 9:49 AM on April 7, 2009


Johann Hari can't write. Every time he starts to tell his story, he stuffs his face with a dozen crumpets, gets overexcited, and inadvertently writes the script to the next Michael Bay movie.
posted by alexwoods at 10:10 AM on April 7, 2009


They named it after a local locust, the daba, who consumed everything before it.

That is just too perfect.


Dubai is also twinned with Detroit. Some narratives almost write themselves.
posted by Ljubljana at 10:26 AM on April 7, 2009


Dubai sounds like a real life Pleasure Island from Disney's Pinocchio.
posted by pianomover at 10:30 AM on April 7, 2009


The Guardian had an article about this last October: 'We need slaves to build monuments'
posted by homunculus at 10:34 AM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The story in the papers here is that there will be a real exodus when the European/American school year ends in June.

atrazine, newbie-ish to Dubai here. You know what, I've been hearing similar news everywhere from my Indian network about the Indian(CBSE) school year. The term has ended and yet I don't see that mass exodus of Indian expats moving out. I don't deny that the meltdown has affected, but certainly its miles away from the doomsday scenario that most of these articles project. Recently there have been almost a similar sensationalist article per week on reddit, though I'll concede this independent article is still much more fact-based and as a Dubai resident there is much to be agreed on here, but still if I put on my tinfoil hat firmly on, it makes me wonder is there some sort of co-ordinated Dubai targetting happening here.
posted by forwebsites at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2009


You know, you don't need to make up a sci-fi speculation about Dubai. It's already there. A glittering city-state built in the desert with an absolute ruler, a subjugated servant class, extravagant wealth and cruelty based on shadowy banking and pleasure palaces, building the tallest tower in the world with only one week's worth of water and people fleeing and dumping their expensive cars at airports in droves? And it's named after a type of locus?

The only thing keeping it out the pages of AMAZING TALES are Gigantic Sandworms.
posted by The Whelk at 10:57 AM on April 7, 2009 [15 favorites]


Interesting read of the comments at the end of the Independent article, from complete ignorance/denial that such atrocious conditions exist, to the quick knee-jerk "how about you Westerners with your treatment of your immigrants" defense, to accusations that the journalist is embellishing his story. Once in a while, agreement with what the journalist says.

Not to say that their arguments aren't valid - one comment about how the West has abolished slavery but still embraces a market that uses virtually slave labour of the third-world to produce its designer clothes and discount crapola rings true - the West's hypocritical, exploitative behaviour is inexcusabe as well, but these people still seem to be missing the point. Just because the West is doing it doesn't mean you are entitled to doing it as well.

Sigh, ignorance is bliss, I guess.

Part of me wishes it will all collapse into dust, but I know that the first casualties will be the same migrant workers who are already suffering.

Crap, I hate stupid people.
posted by bitteroldman at 10:58 AM on April 7, 2009


Reading about Karen's story makes me glad that my friend didn't take a transfer there :S
posted by Calzephyr at 11:16 AM on April 7, 2009


They have been in Dubai for 20 years, and they are happy to explain how the city works. "You've got a hierarchy, haven't you?" Ann says. "It's the Emiratis at the top, then I'd say the British and other Westerners. Then I suppose it's the Filipinos, because they've got a bit more brains than the Indians. Then at the bottom you've got the Indians and all them lot."

My Gods. I know I've said it before, but I am always gobsmacked to find real life people talking like villains in poorly written comic books.
posted by The Whelk at 11:22 AM on April 7, 2009


Also, Africa is a big freakin place. It shouldn't be painted with one brush as 'unsafe'.


OK.

Africa: mostly unsafe.
posted by sour cream at 11:48 AM on April 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


They have been in Dubai for 20 years, and they are happy to explain how the city works. "You've got a hierarchy, haven't you?" Ann says. "It's the Emiratis at the top, then I'd say the British and other Westerners. Then I suppose it's the Filipinos, because they've got a bit more brains than the Indians. Then at the bottom you've got the Indians and all them lot."

My Gods. I know I've said it before, but I am always gobsmacked to find real life people talking like villains in poorly written comic books.


Indeed. The English are by far the worst of all the Europeans here in terms of their vile racism. Although they do tend to treat their servants well.

Better in any case than the Arabs tend to, if you want to see real viciousness and cruelty towards servants, don't look so much to Dubai as to the neighbouring emirate of Sharjah. Or even worse, Saudi Arabia. Many servants refuse to work for Arabs and prefer to work for Europeans because they get treated like employees rather than feudal serfs who can be treated as animals.
posted by atrazine at 12:21 PM on April 7, 2009


Just confirms my impression of expats in general, I suppose.

Well aren't you special. Typical American, that kind of ignorance is all you get from them.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:29 PM on April 7, 2009


Yeah, that's a deeply moronic thing to say.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:49 PM on April 7, 2009


rather, it was more "these decadent bastards desperately need some commuppance, and the ridiculously unsustainable way they are living means they just might get it." It gives me a real End-of-the-roman-Empire feel. though my logical side knows that it would inevitably be the exploited who suffer most if the shit hits the fan, my knee jerk reaction is to want to see those towers FALL.

That's the kind of talk that gets even tenured professors fired.
posted by atrazine at 12:50 PM on April 7, 2009


Umm guys, Dubai being built & expanded by evil oil men enslaving their workers is ancient news. Well, such practices are standard operating procedure for Arab oil states.

We're not just talking about Pakistanis & Chinese or manual labor either. I know French hair dresser who worked there, first thing her boss did was try taking her passport.

It'll stop only when some rich British guys get charged in Britain for crimes against humanity for his hand in some Dubai real estate deal.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:51 PM on April 7, 2009


Let me say it again: the truth lies in between the extremes. The towers aren't going to fall anytime soon. Heck, in most low/middle-class areas the rents have not fallen by more than 10-15% and some areas they are still holding forth or even increasing. People (including me) are expecting to fall it around 40-50%. Certainly the very high-end luxurious properties(burj dubai & nearby) have fallen drastically, mostly because those were the areas with high concentration of speculative froth.

First-hand anecdote:My cousin who was staying in a studio flat in congested old Dubai market area, recently passed away and the landlord was more than forthcoming in refunding his 2-months rent paid in advance. We came to know from the caretaker/watchman that he was planning to lease it out for Dhs 5K more than my cousin's price.

I don't have a dog in this fight. I am not an Emirati, nor a long-time white expat with astronomical salary wary of rocking the boat. People are getting laid off, the economy is slowing down and sure the word is out on the street that Abu Dhabi is now bankrolling some of Dubai. There were few cars abandoned outside airports(not thousands), yes all of this. Yet, all this doomsday portrayal is far from reality, and I suppose it's just a good envy massage outlet for people looking in from the outside.

atrazine, you in Dubai?
posted by forwebsites at 1:58 PM on April 7, 2009


It's not about race or nationality, it's about money.

If you have gobs of money, then Dubai is a good place to live. Heck, no income tax, double-plus good.

You can't tip the staff at commercial areas, they are not allowed to take it. So do it on the sly so the boss won't see.

The saddest thing about Dubai is that the actual culture of the UAE is lost in all the noise of raw capitalism. I'm waiting for them to built new islands in the Gulf in the shape of the dollar sign and the Euro sign.

If you should visit, never, EVER, do anything that would offend an actual Emerati. Not too hard as they are only 12% of the population.

It is such an odd place. It has the masque of a Western locale but odd moments where you are reminded that not only is this not Kansas, but you are in a very foreign place and you have no frame of reference outside of commercial money transactions with most of the life there.
posted by Dagobert at 4:21 PM on April 7, 2009


I really don't understand why people go to Dubai. It seems like every month or two they're throwing some foreigner in jail over something ridiculous like having a tiny speck of pot on the bottom of their shoe or something. You really have no rights over there, and the ruling population doesn't care for you or anything you represent. They only barely tolerate you because you contribute money or some kind of skilled labor they need.

I know they pay well, but it's pretty risky to enter or work in, and helping or touristing in a country that operates on slave labor seems pretty evil. There are like a million places in the world where the people actually acknowledge your humanity, and which don't operate on feudal oppression. Oh, and you don't end up in prison because you happened to step on a discarded joint 4 months ago.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:05 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isn't Dick Cheney retiring to some mega-palace in Dubai? Or is that just too poetic to be true?
posted by telstar at 5:15 PM on April 7, 2009


Dubai has a small penis.
posted by kldickson at 5:26 PM on April 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can't tip the staff at commercial areas, they are not allowed to take it. So do it on the sly so the boss won't see.

Incorrect.


The saddest thing about Dubai is that the actual culture of the UAE is lost in all the noise of raw capitalism. I'm waiting for them to built new islands in the Gulf in the shape of the dollar sign and the Euro sign.

If you should visit, never, EVER, do anything that would offend an actual Emerati. Not too hard as they are only 12% of the population.


The sad thing is that many expats barely even know any Emiratis. When journalists come to interview expats they typically speak to Europeans who pretty much just hang out with other white people. So they have no idea what Emiratis are even like, or how they feel about the rapacious commercial development. They're not all getting hyper rich by the way, unemployment and drug addiction are sadly very common among Emiratis.


forwebsites:
Yes, I'm based here.
posted by atrazine at 8:26 PM on April 7, 2009


It's quite simple, the U.S. & Europe need to start tracking down their own people who are major investors or high level employees in Dubai enterprises that take away workers passports, and then charging those people with slavery, human trafficking, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:01 AM on April 8, 2009


That whole place was paid for by blood money. Of course it's cursed.
posted by psmealey at 3:24 AM on April 8, 2009


Kuwait and other countries in the region can more than hold their own against any Emirate when it comes to abuse of servants. I've seen first-hand the "not-abusive"approach; servant waits on person hand and foot; is barely acknowledged as existing, much less existing as a human being; generally gets a tiny room in the house, something like $200/mo. I found it astonishing--and most Westerners jump right on the get-a-servant train.

Less a fair criticism that Westerners in the region don't try to meet locals. I'd love to meet some of the breathtaking ladies at the malls. But seriously... well, I was serious in saying there are a lot of absolutely stunning women... .

Sure, some stick to their own people, the expat crowd, but plenty of us in the region would love to meet some locals, chat over tea and shisha, gain some understandings, go see camel races and such. It's tough, though. Here and in much of the region, more than 90% of the citizens are employed by the gov'ts so meeting through work is often rare.

But I digress. Yeah, not quite buying the doomsday scenarios, but something like $3 billion worth of projects are on hold or cancelled and there are gobs of credible stories about developers scamming people. Sho nuff, there was a real estate bubble of epic proportions. Even if 1/3 is sheared off property prices, they'd still be extremely high (and some people are reasonably saying, "That much... to live here?") The thought that there's no there there is not a laughable one.

Also, in a lot of cases, salaries haven't come close to keeping pace with rent increases and everything is expensive. Outside of rent, things were the same or less than in Europe, the USA. Now it's considerably higher. A year's worth of contact lenses is more than 2x the price in the USA. Nikes in SF, CA: $100. Exact same shoes in Kuwait: $165.

But people who bought property in about 2000 or earlier, sold 'round early 2008 are still laughing.
posted by ambient2 at 3:22 PM on April 8, 2009


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