It’s much much worse. I’ve been keeping up with the news about this strange place. I read the National Geographic article. I read about people abandoning luxury cars at the airport in order to get out of Dubai without being thrown in debtors prison. But nothing prepared me for this. There are so many human tragedies, it’s hard to keep track.
The most famous hotel in Dubai – the proud icon of the city – is the Burj al Arab hotel, sitting on the shore, shaped like a giant glass sail-boat. In the lobby, I start chatting to a couple from London. They have been coming to Dubai for ten years now, and they say they love it. “You never know what you’ll find here,” he says. “On our last trip, at the beginning of the holiday, our window looked out on the sea. By the end, they’d built an entire island there.”
Doesn’t the omnipresent slave class bother you? The woman replies: “That’s what we come for! It’s great, you can’t do anything for yourself!” Her husband chimes in: “When you go to the toilet, they open the door, they turn on the tap – the only thing they don’t do is take it out for you when you have a piss!” And they both fall about laughing.