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    Default Dubai Life

    No dancing in public: Dubai


    DUBAI: Playing loud music, dancing, nudity, kissing and even holding hands in public is considered inappropriate behavior under new guidelines laid down by the authorities of Dubai, a report said yesterday.

    The Arabic-language daily Al-Emarat Al-Youm said the Dubai Executive Council has urged residents of Dubai, where foreigners make up more than 80 percent of the population, to respect the customs of the country and avoid inappropriate behavior.

    The rules, which apply to all public places, include a ban on all forms of nudity, playing music loudly and dancing, exchange of kisses between men and women — and even on unmarried couples holding hands.

    Any breach of the guidelines, by nationals or expatriates, carries a possible prison penalty, the paper said.

    The guidelines also stipulate that anyone caught under the influence of alcohol — even small amounts — outside designated drinking areas is liable to being fined or imprisoned, the paper added.

    Dubai, a member of the seven-emirate United Arab Emirates, has a diverse culture as it is home to a huge foreign population.

    Unlike most of its neighbors, the emirate tolerates a relatively relaxed dress code and hosts dozens of hotels that have bars and clubs.

    However, a series of incidents, including crackdowns on cross dressers and the expulsion of two British expatriates found guilty of having sex on the beach, has thrown into the limelight the sometimes clashing local and foreign cultures.

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    Young and Arab in Land of Mosques and Bars

    By MICHAEL SLACKMAN - September 21, 2008
    A disco in Dubai exemplifies the emirate's moderating influences. More Photos >

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — In his old life in Cairo, Rami Galal knew his place and his fate: to become a maintenance man in a hotel, just like his father. But here, in glittering, manic Dubai, he is confronting the unsettling freedom to make his own choices.

    Here Mr. Galal, 24, drinks beer almost every night and considers a young Russian prostitute his girlfriend. But he also makes it to work every morning, not something he could say when he lived back in Egypt. Everything is up to him, everything: what meals he eats, whether he goes to the mosque or a bar, who his friends are.

    “I was more religious in Egypt,” Mr. Galal said, taking a drag from yet another of his ever-burning Marlboros. “It is moving too fast here. In Egypt there is more time, they have more control over you. It’s hard here. I hope to stop drinking beer; I know it’s wrong. In Egypt, people keep you in check. Here, no one keeps you in check.”

    In Egypt, and across much of the Arab world, there is an Islamic revival being driven by young people, where faith and ritual are increasingly the cornerstone of identity. But that is not true amid the ethnic mix that is Dubai, where 80 percent of the people are expatriates, with 200 nationalities.

    This economically vital, socially freewheeling yet unmistakably Muslim state has had a transforming effect on young men. Religion has become more of a personal choice and Islam less of a common bond than national identity.

    Dubai is, in some ways, a vision of what the rest of the Arab world could become — if it offered comparable economic opportunity, insistence on following the law and tolerance for cultural diversity. In this environment, religion is not something young men turn to because it fills a void or because they are bowing to a collective demand. That, in turn, creates an atmosphere that is open not only to those inclined to a less observant way of life, but also to those who are more religious. In Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Algeria, a man with a long beard is often treated as an Islamist — and sometimes denied work. Not here in Dubai.

    “Here, I can practice my religion in a natural and free way because it is a Muslim country and I can also achieve my ambition at work,” said Ahmed Kassab, 30, an electrical engineer from Zagazig Egypt, who wears a long dark beard and has a prayer mark on his forehead. “People here judge the person based on productivity more than what he looks like. It’s different in Egypt, of course.”

    A Playground for All Sides

    No one can say for sure why Dubai has been spared the kind of religion-fueled extremism that has plagued other countries in the region. There are not even metal detectors at hotel and mall entrances, standard fare from Morocco to Saudi Arabia. Some speculate that Dubai is like Vienna during the cold war, a playground for all sides. There is a robust state security system. But there is also a feeling that diversity, tolerance and opportunity help breed moderation.

    “There is not going to be somebody who has a grudge against the system,” said Tarik Yousef, dean of the Dubai School of Government. “You might have a problem with something, but there’s enough to make you happy. You have a job — and the mosque is open 24 hours.”

    Dubai dazzles, but it also confuses. It appears to offer a straight deal — work hard and make money. It is filled with inequities and exploitation. It is a land of rules: no smoking, no littering, no speeding, no drinking and driving. But it also dares everyone to defy limitations. There is the Burj Dubai, a glass tower that will be the tallest in the world. There is the Dubai Mall, which will be the biggest in the world. There are artificial islands shaped into a palm tree design (they said it couldn’t be done) and an indoor ski slope. There is talk of a new hotel, the biggest yet in Dubai, that will cool the hot sand for its guests. There is credit, and there are credit cards, for anyone with a job. There are no taxes.

    “They should give you an introduction when you arrive,” said Hamza Abu Zanad, 28, who moved to Dubai from Jordan about 18 months ago and now works in real estate. “It is very disorienting. I felt lost. There are fancy cars, but don’t speed. You can have prostitutes, but don’t get caught with a woman. I was driving along the beach and there were flashes — I thought someone was taking my picture.”

    The flashes turned out to be surveillance cameras. He was speeding. The next day the police called and told him to pay his fines, he said, still laughing at his initial innocence.

    He had lived for years in Canada and graduated from college there. He spoke English, drank beer, dated women, lifted weights, lived a Western-style life, but felt culturally out of sync. “At Christmas I was lonely,” Mr. Abu Zanad said one day with a beer in one hand and the tube of a Turkish water pipe in the other. “Everyone is celebrating, but international students don’t know what’s going on.”

    In this way, Dubai offers another prescription for promoting moderation. It offers a chance to lead a modern life in an Arab Islamic country. Mr. Abu Zanad raised his beer high, almost in a toast, and said he liked being able to walk through a mall and still hear the call to prayer.

    “We like that it’s free and it still has Arab heritage,” he said “It’s not religion, it’s the culture, the Middle Eastern culture.”

    “The Arabs have a future here,” said his best friend, Bilal Hamdan. “Where are we going to go back to? Egypt? Jordan? This is the future.”

    Mr. Galal sees it as his future too, especially when he thinks of what would await him at home, where success is guaranteed only to those with connections and wealth.

    One evening, as he set out for the night to meet Egyptian friends, he was noticeably agitated. It turned out he watched on television as Egypt’s upper house of Parliament, a historic building in the center of Cairo, burned for hours in a humiliating symbol of the state’s decay.

    “Look how long it’s taking them to put out a fire in Parliament and they’re using the most primitive methods,” he finally said. “I feel like I’m watching a black and white movie. What would I go back and do?”

    Mr. Galal grew up in Shubra, a busy, crowded neighborhood in Cairo, where the streets are packed with young men who are unemployed or underemployed. He comes from a traditional, observant household where family honor is linked to obeying social norms and respecting religious values.

    Mr. Galal graduated from college with a degree in social work, but the only job available was as a maintenance man for about $100 a month. He felt as if he was treading water, and so at the urging of his family got engaged to a young woman from his neighborhood. He said that he thought the goal of marriage would give him a purpose, something to work toward.

    About a year later, a friend working in Dubai recommended him for a job in construction, and he grabbed the chance. It was a difficult adjustment.

    “I didn’t feel like anyone understood how I felt,” he said. He gained weight and got depressed.

    He works at a construction company helping to assemble massive air-conditioning units, essential in the withering heat and humidity of Dubai. He reviews blueprints and decides which materials are needed.

    His company gave him housing in a dormitory, a three-story, sand-colored building in Jebel Ali, a sprawling desert landscape of big-box warehouses and construction sites.

    “When I first arrived it was not what I expected,” Mr. Galal said. “You hear about the Emirates, but all the people I worked with were Indian. I wanted to leave.”

    Now his home, or rather, where he sleeps, is in Labor Camp No. 598,655. He shares a room the size of a walk-in closet with two other men on the first floor of the dormitory. The hundreds of men on his floor share a bathroom and a kitchen, where he will not eat because they serve only Indian food. There are about 20 Arab men out of 3,000 mostly Indian residents. Most of his meals are at mall food courts or in cheap restaurants serving Arabic cuisine.

    “It’s not nice, it’s normal,” Mr. Galal said as he closed the flimsy door to his room, stepping over the piles of shoes and sandals in the hall. It was 5:30 p.m. and his roommates were fast asleep after a long hot day at the construction site.

    A Change of Identity

    In fact, the mix of nationalities has made Mr. Galal redefine himself — not predominantly as Muslim but as Egyptian. Asked if he feels more comfortable with a Pakistani who is Muslim or an Egyptian who is Christian, he replied automatically: “The Egyptian.”

    His best friend, Ayman Ibrahim, 28, lives in the room next to Mr. Galal, also with two other men. Mr. Ibrahim is from Alexandria, Egypt, and has been in Dubai for more than two years. He works as a senior safety supervisor in another division of the company.

    Mr. Ibrahim was waiting outside in a white Toyota Corolla provided by the company. His Egyptian fiancée’s picture dangled from his key chain in the ignition.

    Dubai has been built along roadways, 6, 12, 14 lanes wide. There was no central urban planning and the result is a city of oases, each divided from the other by lanes of traffic. The physical distance between people is matched by the distance between nationalities. Dubai has everything money can buy, but it does not have a unifying culture or identity. The only common thread is ambition.

    As Mr. Galal and Mr. Ibrahim headed to town, the traffic was ferocious, another downside of Dubai’s full-throttle development. It took two hours to get to Diera, the old part of the city. But the friends did not seem to mind inching along. Popular Egyptian love songs played from the stereo as the car crawled past the Marina, another exclamation point in a city full of them, with skyscrapers, a Buddha Bar and a marina, a real marina, for boats.

    “This is not for us, the sheiks live here,” Mr. Galal said as the car passed the Marina. But there was no anger or envy in his voice, as there would be if he were in Egypt, where when he sees wealth he knows that it is beyond his reach. When Mr. Galal came to Dubai his salary was 2,000 dirhams a month, or about $550.

    “I wish I can make 40,000 a month,” he said with a dreamy smile. “When I first came here I was hoping for 5,000, now I make 5 and I want 10, and I will start making 10 in a month. Salaries here increase.”

    The young men made it to Diera, parked in a hotel lot and walked down the sidewalk, until the smell of scented tobacco was strong and sweet. They turned left at the Domino’s Pizza, up a flight of stairs and into Awtar, an Egyptian-style coffeehouse that served Turkish water pipes, called shisha in Egypt, and showed Egyptian soccer on television. The place was filled with Egyptian men who were smoking, and drinking sweet tea and coffee.

    Mr. Galal put his cellphone on the table and lit a Marlboro, again. He described how he no longer felt at home anywhere. The diversity and opportunity in Dubai, he says, have made Egypt seem more unlivable than it was before. But he said the openness, the temptations of Dubai, also frightened him.

    “The things I saw here, I can’t tell you,” he said “I can’t trust anyone here, I can’t.”

    ‘A New Way of Life’

    The Rattlesnake Bar and Grill, where he and his friend often go after the coffeehouse, is cheap by Dubai standards, about an $18 cover charge. Inside there is a Wild West theme and a Filipino rock band blasting pop music and many single women lined up like merchandise by the front door. A sign by the bar promised “a new way of life.”

    This is where Mr. Galal met Reem — though he said that was probably not her real name. On a Thursday night — the first night of the weekend — Rattlesnake was packed with single men and prostitutes. Mr. Galal seemed jealous when Reem was working the floor, talking to guys. His head was tipped, his shoulders hiked up, a bit like a nervous schoolboy. Reem wore skin-tight black tights, a black, low-cut top, and held a stern gaze as Mr. Galal leaned in and talked to her. They chatted a few minutes before Reem went off.

    “Look, I’m not a muscle man and I’m not loaded, she must like me,” Mr. Galal said, sounding a touch unsure of himself.

    “She’s here for business and I know she has to do this. She tries to make me understand. But I get attached.”

    A week later, Mr. Galal was overloaded. “I am suffocating here,” he said as he walked into the coffeehouse. He moved up his vacation home to Cairo. He said that he needed to get back on track, to break from the drinking and the women, and reconnect with his values.

    A few days later, Mr. Ibrahim drove him to the airport for the nearly four-hour flight home to spend the holy month of Ramadan with his family. In Dubai, Mr. Ibrahim said, “There’s work and life and money. There were days when I didn’t have a place to stay, no money, nothing. But I made it as opposed to Egypt where you start at zero and stay at zero.”

    But if Dubai offers opportunity, it also poses risks.

    For days after his return to Egypt, Mr. Galal could not get hold of Mr. Ibrahim on the telephone. He had been arrested, charged by the police with trying to steal tons of scrap metal from his construction site. Five days after he was taken in, Mr. Ibrahim was released, but the police kept his passport.

    “I didn’t do it,” he said. “I am here two and a half years trying to make a life for myself and in two minutes my life is ruined.”

    In Cairo, Mr. Galal reconnected with his family. He fasted for Ramadan, including giving up cigarettes during daylight hours. And he went out looking for his friends on the bustling streets of his neighborhood, which is the antithesis of Dubai. It is filled with people, men, women, children, all night long, shopping, chatting, smoking, enjoying the cool night air, the warmth of the neighborhood, and a common culture.

    Mr. Galal cut and gelled his hair. He got a close shave and bought himself a thick silver link chain to wear around his neck. He looked as if he would fit right in. But he did not feel that way.

    “My friends are all stuck at a certain limit, that’s as far as they can go,” Mr. Galal said after three weeks at home. “Nothing is new here. Nothing is happening. My friends feel like I changed. They say money changed me.”

    Mr. Galal and a cousin went out for a night of fun the day before he was scheduled to return to Dubai. They sat on the sidewalk by the Nile where men were fishing. A woman rented them plastic lawn chairs and brought over sweet tea and a drink made from chickpeas. “I want to go back,” he said. “I was living better there. It’s the simple things, sitting at the coffee shop, talking to people, their mentality is different.”

    He said he broke off his engagement. Marriage in Egypt is usually a practical matter, a necessary step to adulthood, to independence. It is often arranged.

    A year in Dubai changed his view of marriage. “You are looking for someone to spend your whole future with,” Mr. Galal said.

    “I want to go back and have fun. My future is there, in Dubai.”


    Is this what they are selling their Akhira for?! to drink alcohol and commit zina with prostitutes... to choose haraam dating with a prostitute over a halaal marriage with chaste woman?! To go from a land (Egypt) where people forbid evil and enjoin good to one (Dubai) where they do the opposite. Then there are the hypocrites of Dubai that allow prostitution, alcohol and other major sins as long as you are not seen, do they disbelieve that Allah sees them whether people see them or not?!

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    Bye-Bye, Dubai

    By: Lauren Greenfield - Sep 1, 2009


    Not long ago, Dubai emerged as a symbol of crazed civic ambition, a once-quiet desert burg suddenly superheated by cheap capital. That's over.

    Deserts have a way of reclaiming whatever is built upon them. In the case of Dubai, on the Persian Gulf, the global financial implosion has sent that process into overdrive. After six years of frenzied expansion, during which the emirate's population grew at 7% annually and nearly $600 billion went into construction (the world's tallest building! the world's largest shopping mall! the biggest man-made island! an indoor ski resort!), reality has come rushing into view.

    "They have no oil, no culture, no history," says Peter Harradine, a prominent landscape architect in Dubai and manager of Harradine Golf. "So what they have been able to produce is a miracle." Or was it a mirage? Today, an estimated 50% of the slated developments are frozen or canceled. Banks have stopped lending. Housing prices fell 41% in the first quarter of 2009 and are expected to drop to preboom levels. The stock market has plunged 70% from its peak. And people across the socioeconomic spectrum are being laid off -- and fleeing -- in droves. But even fleeing is harder than it sounds: When foreigners, who once made up perhaps 80% of Dubai's 1.7 million residents, lose their jobs, their work visas are rescinded and they generally have 30 days to pay their debts and leave. Those who fail to pay risk debtor's prison. And debt here is now as deep and ubiquitous as the sand itself.

    The wealthy, like the Emiratis, remain well cared for. Designer Roberto Cavalli, asked why he spent $30 million on his new Cavalli Club during a financial crisis, replied, "What financial crisis?" These pages may remind him.

    Road to Nowhere


    Dubai's expansion was as ambitious as it was improbable. Dubailand, a $64 billion mixed-use development initially planned at 107 square miles, was to be the world's largest collection of theme parks, shops, residences, and hotels. For now, though, its roller coasters, life-size dinosaurs, snowy mountainscape, and polar bears will remain a fantasy, one of the gaudier casualties of the economic downturn. While formal cancellations are rare in Dubai, a number of other projects have been delayed or scuttled, including an underwater hotel; a Tiger Woods golf course; a residential community set among full-scale replicas of the Seven Wonders of the World; a rotating skyscraper; and a beach designed by Versace, complete with chilled sand.

    Last Gasp


    With requisite hookah and a jeroboam of Champagne, a group of German businessmen celebrate their purchase of an Alaskan oil field at Plastik Beach Club, a playground touting itself as "exclusively for the filthy rich and aesthetically perfect." Public intoxication and displays of affection are jailable offenses in Dubai, but private clubs are quietly ignored by the authorities, often rendering them happy havens of vice. Plastik offers a helipad and a dock for its wealthy guests, many of them Russian; as the economy crumbles, they party on. One American expat says that while Dubai's promise has faded in the economic downturn, "people who dream of a better life dream of coming to Dubai. You can call it the American dream."

    Frozen Desert


    Dubai was a modest trading settlement until the 1980s. Fueled by cheap credit, tax-free living, and limitless ambition, the city-state pushed into the desert and up to the sky, culminating in the frenetic growth of the past six years. Now, with cash scarce and many of Dubai's expats moving away, the cranes (a quarter of the world's supply) have quieted and the streets are all but empty. A resident from Ireland reflects that living in Dubai during the rush was "like being on a drug. Every six months, the city would morph into something completely new." Kayla, a South African, recalls, "Everyone was talking about how it couldn't go on like this. Then, all of a sudden, everything changed."

    Ghost Workers


    Once Dubai's most valuable import, foreign laborers have become a liability to their former employers. Hundreds of thousands of them, mostly from South Asia, were drawn by the promise of plentiful work and money to send home to their families. Now that much of Dubai's construction has ground to a halt, many are being sent home; the number of migrant workers here has reportedly fallen by a third. Of those who remain, many are locked in labor disputes: They can't work, but can't leave. These jobless Bangladeshi men can't return home because, as frequently happens, their employers confiscated their visas, effectively leaving them shackled. Living four to a room in a labor camp, they haven't been paid in seven months. They say they live as "ghosts" in a "prison," unacknowledged and unknown.

    The World: Flat


    The skyline of Dubai, including the Burj Dubai, the tallest building on earth, photographed from the World Islands. Construction of the much-hyped project, an archipelago of 300 man-made islands designed to resemble a world map, helped extend Dubai's 45 miles of natural coastline to 467 miles, enough for everyone to have waterfront property -- or so the brochures promised. The site used more than 34 million tons of rock and 320 million cubic meters of sand (making Dubai, oddly, a sand importer). State-owned megadeveloper Nakheel promotes the islands as "a blank canvas for orchestrating your own version of paradise, and where you'll discover that the World really can revolve around you." To some, however, the project represents Dubai's fundamental flaws: overbuilding and poor planning. Despite prices ranging from $20 million to $50 million, the islands are without power or sewer systems. And while 70% of them have already been sold, development has begun on only one.

    Debt Refugees


    White-collar workers and foreign laborers alike subsist at the pleasure of the Emiratis -- necessary one day, expendable the next. Hendrick and Kayla, from South Africa, had been living in Dubai for six years. At the time this photo was taken, Kayla had recently been laid off and Hendrick hadn't been paid in months. After exhausting their savings to pay the mortgage on an apartment that had lost 40% of its value, they were left with no choice but to go home. "No one ever said, 'Do you know that if you lose your job, or can't pay your mortgage, you'll have to go to jail?' " Kayla says. "We had to flee the country with our tails between our legs, as if we'd done something terribly wrong."

    A Sinking Feeling


    A sick palm outside an empty villa on the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made island shaped like a 3-mile-long palm tree. Villa price tags have fallen to $2 million from $5 million, and many sit vacant. Real estate agent James Fox explains that in the overheated market, investors looking to flip properties often purchased houses before they were built; when the unregulated real estate market crashed, some were left with nothing but plots of sand. As anger grew, rumors spread that the island was sinking under the stress of traffic and overbuilding. Fox sees the real estate collapse as "a necessary correction of the market."

    Rapid Return


    As expats take flight, indebted and disillusioned, they leave behind relics of their former lives: new cars, left to accumulate dust and the comments of passersby. The government will not release numbers, but it's estimated that more than 3,000 abandoned cars have been found in 2009, many with keys in the ignition, an apology note on the windshield, or maxed-out credit cards in the glove compartment. Dubai once seemed like a sure thing. But as one departing expat notes, "At the end of the day, it's not our country. So if we're made redundant, we have to go home."

    Honey-Wagon Train


    When Dubai upgraded its waste-disposal infrastructure some years ago, it failed to anticipate the population explosion. Today, large swathes of the city have no sewage connections, so it is collected by hundreds of trucks and ferried into the desert to Dubai's only sewage repository, 35 miles outside city limits. During the boom, the trip took as long as 17 hours (depopulation has since cut that time), and it became routine for drivers to short-circuit the process by dumping into drainpipes along the way, sending the waste flowing back to Dubai to reappear on its upscale beaches.


    As stupid as the Dubai arabs are, these foreigners (like Kayla) are even dumber. They think they won the lottery or something when the arabs offered them high salaries (because of their white color) and easy credit for purchases. They lived lavishly as if they were retired millionaires on vacation and when they can't pay their debts then they wine that no one told them they had to pay back the money they borrowed.

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    What is Dubai and who runs it?

    From the pinnacle of the world economic boom to the brink of bankruptcy, Christopher Davidson of Durham University explains some of the background to the glittering city in the desert.

    27 November 2009

    The inability of the government of Dubai to refinance the massive debts incurred by its largest state-owned company, Dubai World, sent shockwaves throughout the world prompting many observers to ask not only how severe the economic crisis is, but also what exactly is Dubai and who is in control of it?

    Although frequently described as a city state or even as a country in its own right, Dubai is a constituent member of the federation of United Arab Emirates along with six other emirates.

    Only one of these, Abu Dhabi, possesses substantial oil reserves, and as such it has dominated most areas of federal politics - including foreign affairs and defence - since the UAE was formed following Britain's withdrawal from the Persian Gulf in 1971.


    "Put simply, everyone in the markets thought that, in the end, the federal government in Abu Dhabi would stand by all of Dubai's bad bets. Apparently, they won't. "
    Stephanie Flanders, BBC economics editor
    Dubai, however, has always maintained an air of autonomy within the federation as a result of its long history as a successful free port. When the UAE constitution was drafted this relative independence was taken into account as each emirate was allowed to retain control over its own natural resources and economic development path.

    Gradually Dubai did allow itself to integrate more fully into the UAE, finally handing over its militia - the Dubai Defence Force - in 1996.

    But this move was interpreted at the time as a means of transferring costly services to the federal government so as to allow Dubai to pursue its economic ambitions.

    With little oil, Dubai's only hope of maintaining a distinct identity from Abu Dhabi was to diversify at a fast pace, building up various non-oil sectors such as luxury tourism and real estate.


    On paper it was succeeding, as by 2008 over 95% of its GDP was made up by such sectors.

    Dubai World has fuelled the emirate's rapid economic growth of recent years
    But with the onset of the credit crunch much of this success began to come undone as foreign direct investment and appetite for these activities faded.

    Dubai had also badly overextended itself with most of its mega projects - including giant manmade islands - being financed by large debts.

    With most of these needing to be refinanced in the near future, the emirate's government spent most of 2009 trying to attract international creditors but was largely unsuccessful.

    With Abu Dhabi providing some limited financial assistance Dubai managed to keep afloat. If Abu Dhabi does not provide more help, then the government of Dubai will soon be bankrupt.


    Although the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, recently told journalists to "shut up" and stop referring to Dubai and Abu Dhabi as being separate, and although the Al Maktoum family is of the same tribe as Abu Dhabi's ruling Al Nahyan family - the Bani Yas - the two dynasties nonetheless have a long history of rivalry.

    In 1833, Dubai broke away from Abu Dhabi and had to rely on British protection.

    Dubai's boom was built by hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers
    Even in the 1940s, there was armed conflict between the two neighbours.

    More recently, there has been intense competition, including each establishing its own 'national airline' despite obvious overlaps.

    As such, further assistance from Abu Dhabi is far from guaranteed.

    Beyond the government and the ruling family there will also be a broader impact of the crisis in Dubai.

    Thousands of migrant workers, mostly from South Asia, are already stranded in the emirate, and there are likely to be more over the coming weeks as more companies cease their operations or face cutbacks.

    These men will have difficulty returning home.

    Similarly many other expatriates, some of them Westerners, will also lose their jobs, and the many foreigners who invested in the emirate's much vaunted real estate sector may see substantial losses on the properties they purchased as investments, retirement homes, or holiday villas.

    Christopher Davidson is the author of Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success

    Stoopid Arabs


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    The Economic Mirage

    from Islamic Revival by Islamic Revival

    Dubai once symbolized the economic boom of the 21st Century. It was viewed favourably by major Western companies that established offices in the country attracting a large number of foreign workers from Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. With an economy to the tune of $46 billion, the Gulf emirate attracted world-wide attention with its rising property sector.

    Today, however, is a different story. The economic situation has deteriorated to the point that expatriates are leaving the country as fast as possible. As reported in the New York Times, debt-ridden foreigners are fleeing Dubai, abandoning their cars at the airport with “maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.”
    Dubai: Growth and Collapse

    To understand the collapse of the Dubai economy, one must look at what was driving it. Dubai’s economy was initially a mixture of trading and oil. Since the 1940s, the city was known as a trading-hub for gold in the Middle East and South Asia. Oil was also a significant component of the economy (e.g. in 1975 oil accounted for 54%). In its drive to copy the Capitalist approach to economy, Dubai expanded heavily into financial services and real estate.

    In 2000, Dubai launched the Dubai Financial Market, which sells foreign and local securities (e.g. bonds, stocks). In 2006, Dubai’s ruler made it legal for foreigners to own property in the emirate.Foreign investors became keen to invest in Dubai, as it was seen as an “emerging market” – similar to India or China – that would take a larger share of the world’s wealth. This resulted in tremendous expansion of the non-oil sectors of the economy. For example, real estate and construction account for between 30% and 50% of Dubai’s economy, while oil accounts for only 3%.The fall of Dubai’s economy began with the flight of capital.

    Foreign investors were pulling out their investments for two reasons. Firstly, they knew that emerging markets would be the first to be impacted by the recession. Secondly, they needed the capital to cover their own exposure to the crisis.
    Repeat of the Asian Financial Crisis

    A decade ago, another region of the Muslim world attempted to organise its economies on the Capitalist model. In the early 1990s, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other South-East Asian countries had high growth rates of 8-12%, which attracted almost half of the total capital-inflow to developing countries. However in 1997, these so-called “Asian Economic Miracles” collapsed when foreign investors withdrew their funds. The financial collapse left the region in ruin with millions left in poverty.
    Root Problem: Agent Rulers and Capitalist Solutions

    As it has been proven time and time again, the rulers of the Muslim countries are agents of the West. These rulers and the elite in the Muslims countries have given political allegiance to the Western colonial powers, such as America and Britain, and have forcefully imposed the Capitalist system upon the Ummah. They have tied their economic interests to Western financial institutions and corporations making us dependent on the economies of the Capitalist nations. The rulers and the elite try to emulate their Western colonial masters when it comes to issues of economic development.

    For example, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, the agent-ruler of Dubai said in 2007, “The services sector was the driving force behind Dubai’s economic growth, contributing 74% of GNP, mirroring the economies of the developed world.” When faced by an economic challenge, they run to their Western colonial masters for advice and solutions. For example, UAE’s Central Bank unveiled a $10 billion bailout package to address Dubai’s problems – mimicking America, Canada, and Europe.
    Islam: Do Not Imitate Other Nations

    Rasul’Allah (saw) has clearly forbidden us from following the ways of other nations: “You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also. We said: Allah’s Messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians (by your words) “those before you”? He said: Who else (than those two religious groups)?” [Muslim]
    As a result, if we attempt to imitate the Capitalist nations we will fail to achieve prosperity in this life and face humiliation in the next life because of our disobedience to the Messenger of Allah (saw). As we witness the spectacular collapse of the Capitalist financial system – in Dubai or in America itself – we should take the time to realize that it is only through Allah’s (swt) assistance that we can achieve economic success.
    Intellectual Decline: The Key Obstacle to Progress

    The greatest resource that the Muslim Ummah has is not its scientific discoveries, its vast number of doctors and engineers, massive oil & mineral reserves; or even its enormous population. The greatest fortune this Ummah has is the Islamic thoughts, which emanate from the Islamic Aqeedah. Material wealth, scientific discoveries, and industrial inventions are of much lower importance than the Islamic thoughts.

    In fact, any material and scientific progress depends on the Ummah embracing the Islamic thoughts and implementing them in society.The Islamic thoughts are not restricted to matters of ibadat. They encompass all issues that a human being will face in this life.

    Allah (swt) revealed: And We have revealed the Book to you as an exposition to all things, a guide, a mercy and glad tidings to Muslims.” [TMQ 16:89]

    When the Muslim Ummah was a leading nation, it relied solely on Islam to deal with all the affairs of life, including economy, governance, foreign policy, etc. The majority of Muslims used wahy (revelation from Allah (swt)) to judge the challenges that faced them. As a result, the Ummah was productive in all spheres of life, including science and technology. For example, during the Mongol invasion, the Muslim Ummah came across “Al-Yaasiq”; a law-book compiled by Genghis Khan, which contained some rulings that were derived from various religions (e.g. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc) and his own opinions. The book became the legal code followed by the children of Genghis Khan.

    However, ibn Katheer (rh) looked at the issue in light of the ayah revealed by Allah (swt): “Do they then seek the judgement of (the days of) ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm faith?” [TMQ 5:50]

    Based on this (and many other ayat and ahadith), he rejected al-Yassiq and enjoined on the Ummah to also reject it and follow the laws reveled by Allah (swt).

    Unfortunately, the Ummah has lost this productive way of thinking. This process occurred over centuries, but was most pronounced during the military and intellectual invasion of Europe that has persisted since the 18th century until the present day. During this period, the Ummah became fascinated with the material success of Europe and blindly adopted the Capitalist solutions – without fully realizing that these solutions were alien to Islam. Dubai’s approach to economy (e.g. adopting Capitalist solutions of the free market, riba, bailouts, etc) is just a current example of this phenomenon. With the Islamic way of thinking abandoned, we see ourselves mired in poverty – despite the abundance of material resources in our lands.

    However, today, with the help of Allah (swt) the Ummah is responding to the call to resuming the Islamic way of life through the re-establishment of the Khilafah Rashidah in the Muslim lands. Muslims are re-gaining their confidence and trust in Islam and openly calling for its implementation
    Khilafah: Making the Islamic Aqeedah Central to Society

    The path to progress begins with embracing the Islamic Aqeedah: recognizing that Allah (swt) is the sole Legislator and being confident that the Shariah is more than capable of managing the affairs of the Ummah – in all spheres of life (i.e. ibadat, politics, economy, etc). Once we understand this as the way forward we must work to purge the Muslim lands of Capitalist thinking. The Capitalist solutions are man-made and they are as limited as the minds of the men who laid them down. Consequently, they will inevitably fail.

    To understand how the Islamic thought process works, we can examine how Islam approaches the issue of economy in contrast to Capitalism. In Islam, the key economic problem is the distribution of wealth. This is based on understanding of why the Messenger of Allah (saw) divided the booty gained from Bani Nadheer exclusively among the Muhajireen and the poor members of the Ansar. Regarding this incident, Allah (swt) revealed:

    “What Allah has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from the people of the townships, belongs to Allah,- to His Messenger and to kindred and orphans, the needy and the wayfarer; In order that it may not (merely) circulate between the wealthy among you.” [TMQ 59:7]

    Based on this ayah (and other rulings in economy, such as the prohibition of riba), Allah (swt) makes it clear to us that the Khalifah must work to ensure that the wealth circulates through the whole of society. The Capitalists, on the other hand, believe that the economic problem is to maximize production. For example, we see the Capitalists measure the economy by looking at the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and not how many people are homeless, hungry, etc. Thus, for the Ummah to progress economically we must adopt the Islamic idea that the key economic problem is distribution – as this is the Haqq (Truth) – and reject the idea that we must increase production at all costs – as this is Batil (Falsehood).

    Once the Haqq is clear from the Batil, we must work to make Islam the sole reference point in society. This means the thoughts, emotions, and systems – political, education, economic, and social – will be based solely on what Allah (swt) has revealed. This can only be achieved through the re-establishment of Khilafah in the Muslims lands. Muslims must work globally on the Prophet’s (saw) method of intellectual and political struggle, which requires us to join a group and purge ourselves of Capitalist concepts and solution and replace them with Islamic concepts and solutions from the revelation of Allah (swt) through intense study. We must also interact with the Muslim Ummah and promote the Islamic alternative. In the Muslim lands we must also seek the nusrah (support from influential members of society) just as our Prophet (saw) did from al-Ansar (ra).

    May Allah (swt) help us to establish the Khilafah Rashidah in the Muslim Lands according to the method of the Prophet (saw) and build a global economic system that will bring prosperity to all.

    “And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their mila (way).” [TMQ 2:120]


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