/ Dubai

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Greenbanks - on 07 Oct 2017
Had a fair number of friends over the last 10 years who have chosen to go on holiday in Dubai. Having briefly worked there, and regularly using it as a hub for onward travel to SE Asia and Australasia, I admit to being totally unable to see what the attraction is.

Especially so when this kind of incident gets reported
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-41536636

Maybe it does have redeeming features. But I find it unaesthetic and oppressive. Views?
plyometrics - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

I’ve never been, but have no intention whatsoever to visit. Looks like my idea of hell on earth, but with Lamborghinis.
john arran - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

Difficult to comment on the legal and cultural matters, but it always seemed to me that people who holiday in Dubai are possibly the same people who spend much of their weekend leisure time in shopping malls.
Robert Durran - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to john arran:

Yes, well apparently the shopping in Dubai is really wonderful. A colleague of mine who went there on holiday said there was no need to go to the beach because the hotel pool was so good. It cost me £12 to get between the two airport terminals in a taxi, which also needed a visa! Having said that, the airport food was fabulous and amazingly cheap!
benmason - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:
I regularly work in the UAE and quite honestly find it the most unappealing and fake place. As previous comments have said unless you wish to spend all week in a shopping center buying things you can get for cheaper in the UK then I can not find any attraction.

The racism is also something I find very difficult to deal with seeing certain groups of people being treated as servants and being unable to do the same things a white or Emirati person can do is archaic.

One thing i find really strange is the manmade beaches, featureless and with no soul in compared to European or US beaches.

Post edited at 13:59
gethin_allen on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

We have a student who's heading out there soon for a stag type lads on the loose weekend, he's a rugby type and a real handful on a night out in the UK and we are fearing that he's going to end up on "banged up abroad".

I personally have no inclination to go there, it sounds proper grim both geographically and sociopolitically.
wintertree - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to benmason:

> [...] manmade beaches, featureless and with no soul in compared to European or US beaches.

Quite a few US beaches are just as artificial, and they’re running out of dredgeible sand to top them up with... https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2016/11/17/13660014/miami-beach-sand-erosion-nourishment-clima...
Post edited at 23:51
1
wintertree - on 07 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

I have never been there. I can not foresee myself ever going there. From what I have read, I have formed the opinion that it’s a gauche, tastless facade built upon exploitation, large scale slavery and human misery.

I have yet to feel sort for a single British person whom I have read about, who has been arrested there for whatever reason. It’s not like there is a paycity of well publicised stories on how people get arrested there, yet people still go there and do the things others have been arrested for.
Post edited at 23:58
2
Rob Naylor - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

I do a lot of work in the UAE, visiting several times a year. I can cope with Abu Dhabi, and a couple of the smaller Emirates, but I absolutely loathe Dubai and try to avoid going there at all. Fortunately we only have one client there. All outward show, bling and as others have said, built and run on the toil of cheap exploited labour who are treated worse than dirt.

The one country in the region I'd be happy to live in for a longish period is Oman.
johncoxmysteriously - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to wintertree:

"It’s not like there is a paycity of well publicised stories on how people get arrested there"

Sometimes I almost think autocorrect has a soul.

jcm
johncoxmysteriously - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

I've heard all they need to transform it into Sirte is a few dead bodies.......whoops, sorry, wrong thread.

jcm
Greenbanks - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Rob Naylor:

I agree about Oman. I worked there last year for a few weeks and was attracted to the overall ambience. It came across as urbane, expansive and far more liberal (as far as a Middle Eastern context could be I guess) than I was expecting. Have friends who have been there (diving) and I’d certainly consider it a recreational destination (there is climbing too)
asteclaru - on 08 Oct 2017
I had to spend a full day there this January when my connecting flight from Australia was delayed and the earliest alternative flight was the next morning.

All I have to say is 'You can roll a t**d in glitter, but it's still going to be a t**d'

I honestly don't see why anyone would go there by their own volition
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:
> I agree about Oman.

Yes, a wonderfully friendly and safe country. Probably the most welcoming feeling country I have been to. Also stunningly beautiful and with great climbing.

A good advertisement for long term enlightened development under a benign absolute ruler.
Post edited at 09:37
Postmanpat on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

It's hot. In the winter months it's one of very few places with swimming pools and beaches easily accessible from the UK where the weather is pretty much guaranteed.
Greenbanks - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

> It's hot. In the winter months it's one of very few places with swimming pools and beaches easily accessible from the UK where the weather is pretty much guaranteed<

Thanks. That more than makes up for the racism, double standards and absence of worker's rights

3
Postmanpat on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:
> Thanks. That more than makes up for the racism, double standards and absence of worker's rights

I didnt realise you wanted a moral justification as opposed to an explanation.
You were the one who worked there. Presumably you've knocked out a few hail Marys to make up for it.

Presumably Russia , China , and large parts of Asia and Latin America and of course the Middle East are off your list?
Post edited at 14:22
Greenbanks - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

Keep your shovel handy
8
Postmanpat on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:
> Keep your shovel handy

I really dont know what you're on about.
You asked for an explanation. I gave it and you went on the attack which is a bit rich given that you sold your sold for a bit of silver and worked there.

How is my explanation wrong?

Personally I have no interest in going there, chiefly because its a bit of a dump.
Post edited at 14:51
1
Greenbanks - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

My interpretation - the somewhat unsympathetic way to appeared(sic) to dismiss the shortcomings of Dubai, in pointing to its benefits as a tourist destination. Apologies if I got this wrong.

Your interpretation - 'a bit rich given that you sold your sold for a bot of silver and worked there'. Partly true, though I was paid by an international agency supporting the rights of marginalised workers.
2
Postmanpat on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

> My interpretation - the somewhat unsympathetic way to appeared(sic) to dismiss the shortcomings of Dubai, in pointing to its benefits as a tourist destination. Apologies if I got this wrong.

>
Apology accepted, and proffered in return.

Greenbanks - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Postmanpat:

<Apology accepted, and proffered in return>
Thanks. Job done.
bouldery bits - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

Doesn't seem like my cup of tea, but I can see why it might appeal to some people.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

I only know one person who made it his holiday destination annually. He was my boss, a shallow, money obsessed , vacuous individual with very little personality.

Ive never been there and never would but from what I'm told, the man and the place were well suited.
Lusk - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> I only know one person who made it his holiday destination annually. He was my boss, a shallow, money obsessed , vacuous individual with very little personality.

Yeah, I walked out of his employment years ago and never looked back
Pekkie - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

Sounds great. Just a couple of questions. What's the beer like? And what punishments can you expect from the judicial system if you slip up?
2
PeakDJ on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

> I agree about Oman. I worked there last year for a few weeks and was attracted to the overall ambience. It came across as urbane, expansive and far more liberal (as far as a Middle Eastern context could be I guess) than I was expecting. Have friends who have been there (diving) and I’d certainly consider it a recreational destination (there is climbing too)

I lived there for a short while, in Sur. Amazing country. In addition to the things you mention, it also has some great climbing. A sport climbing trip to Hadash and Wadi Daykah would be a great mix of culture and climbing. Throw in a DWS day on a boat from Qantab (boats for about 35 OMR). For the more adventurous, there is always Jebel Misht or even bouldering in the Valley of Giants, on the Salmah Plateau.
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Pekkie:

> Sounds great. Just a couple of questions. What's the beer like? And what punishments can you expect from the judicial system if you slip up?

I made a point of not checking out either.
Steff - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

I have been to Dubai and have found it an interesting place. You can get away from the high rise luxury part by visiting the old part of the city where most the migrant workers live. It's an amazing mix of cultures with fantastic food from many places. I wouldn't go there on a holiday though.
And I could not understand how can build a completely new infrastructure in a flat desert and mess up traffic so badly.
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:

> Amazing country.

And there are wonderful sand deserts stretching right to the sea, and Salalah in the south catches a mini monsoon turning the desert green. There are also fjords in the north! Can't wait to go back - maybe round two with Jebel Misht......
PeakDJ on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
> And there are wonderful sand deserts stretching right to the sea, and Salalah in the south catches a mini monsoon turning the desert green. There are also fjords in the north! Can't wait to go back - maybe round two with Jebel Misht......

Did you go out to Masirah? If not, add it to the list for next time - the East coast has a fairly unique desolate beauty and the West cost some of the best snorkelling I have ever experienced. We unfortunately didn't make it down to Salalah while we were living in Oman, but it is on the list for a future trip! I think the highlights for us were the marine life on Masirah and at Ras al Hadd (amazing diving) and Damaniyat Islands, plus the trip down to Masirah for wild camping on the beaches. I loved living in Sur for a while - the Salmah plateau (including Wadi Taab and the Seventh Hole Cave) is a real gem that wasn't far from our place - worth adding to your list if you make it back to Oman.
Post edited at 20:23
andy - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:
have flown through the airport several times but never been outside.

So my only impression comes from the fact I spend two or three days a week in Solihull, which has more than its fair share of vacuous, money obsessed, tasteless gits. Who all seem to love going to Dubai.

Shan’t be leaving the airport any time soon...

Indeed as they said on HIGNFY - Jim Davidson lives there. Do you need to know any more?
Post edited at 20:48
FactorXXX - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Pekkie:

And what punishments can you expect from the judicial system if you slip up?

Depending on what you slip up, but I think the punishments are quite harsh if you get it wrong...
Greenbanks - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to FactorXXX:

Like the guy in this link in the OP, it would unfortunately appear (linked again)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-41536636
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:
> Like the guy in this link in the OP, it would unfortunately appear (linked again)


That was in Dubai. The post you were replying to was about Oman!
Post edited at 22:33
Robert Durran - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:
> Did you go out to Masirah?

I didn't have time after the climbing but went down the new coast road until opposite Masirah where the Wahiba Sands meet the sea. Planning to go back Christmas/New year 2019/20 to coincide with the annular eclipse which will cross the Wahiba.
Post edited at 23:02
Greenbanks - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:
Sorry - I did not follow the thread sequence properly. No idea, in respnse to the Q about punishment etc in Oman - though this is on the FO site:

'Licensed hotels and restaurants sell alcohol. If you live in Oman, you can get a licence to drink alcohol at home from the Royal Oman police. It’s an offence to drink, or be drunk, in public. The legal age for drinking alcohol is 21'

Apparently there is a more 'enlighted' approach - though I would not want to test iy out - nor did I
Post edited at 23:07
FactorXXX - on 08 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

Sorry - I did not follow the thread sequence properly. No idea, in respnse to the Q about punishment etc in Oman - though this is on the FO site:

Actually, I was the one that didn't follow the thread and assumed that we were talking about Dubai.
Whoops!
Rob Naylor - on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to Pekkie:

> Sounds great. Just a couple of questions. What's the beer like? And what punishments can you expect from the judicial system if you slip up?

The beer in Oman is about like you get in most hot climates....mainly ide cold lager with the odd place doing ice cold Caffreys and Guinness. As per middle east norms, usually only available in bars and restaurants attached to hotels. If you live there you need an alcohol license to buy it.

I'd say, from the very limited amount of contact I've had with it, that the Omani judicial system is a lot less capricious than Dubai's, and probably more even-handed when it comes to dealing with locals and foreigners (ie if an Emirati drives his Ferrari right up your arse in Dubai, it WILL be your fault). Dubai has lots of laws that just aren't enforced until you upset someone, and then it can come down on you like a ton of bricks. A couple of my acquaintance moved out there last year, to work, and live together in an apartment. Strictly according to the law in Dubai, this is illegal if they're not married, yet their employer never mentioned that to them in their briefing. I know several couples who live there together unmarried without issues, but also know of one couple who were prosecuted and jailed for it....but ONLY because they pissed off an Emirati neighbour over a parking dispute and he reported them.
didntcomelast on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

This thread was just what I didn’t want to read a fortnight before I take my wife for a surprise holiday to Dubai. She is a confirmed ‘mallrat’ and has wanted to go for years. I couldn’t think of a worse place to spend a holiday and an expensive one at that. I guess though, I am going to have to grin and bear it for a few days to make her happy. A friend did say that the old town was really nice though with a rich culture. I may venture there as a relief to the malls.
Greenbanks - on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to didntcomelast:

Oh dear. I wonder if this might help you to cope:

https://www.facebook.com/rock.republic.dubai
didntcomelast on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:
Haha, thanks. Not sure that would go down well though if I buggered off and left her to climb. Also there’s a serious number of shops she could do damage in with our credit card. No, as my daughter told me when the idea was first discussed. It’s only 3 days, surely you can fake enjoyment for 3 days? ( I did offer her the opportunity to go, which she turned down instantly, muttering something about hell freezing over.)
Greenbanks - on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to didntcomelast:

Good man: yours will be behaviour that is usually referred to in our house in cricketing parlance. It applies whenever an exeat is being sought for mountain purposes from the Kommisariat. In such instances I advise my lads to play things with a very straight bat, take things in singles, and leave any adventurous hitting to the midwicket boundary to me (tho' I have been caught a couple of times in foolish circumstances I have to admit).

Your own forward defensive batting over 3 days in Dubai will reap subsequent benefits I'm sure!
John Gregory - on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

It has been very interesting reading the many comments regarding Dubai some of which I can agree to and I am sure are quite valid. The views expressed are perhaps somewhat superficial in respect of either being perceived or lack of time spent actually spent there. I lived in the Emirates for 34 years, not in Dubai but a town some 100 kilometres to the north so have been able to see the very rapid development of the country over a very short period of time and can't help to be amazed by the foresight of its various Rulers particularly Dubai. It has been very interesting to see a country grow and modernise so quickly.

Agreed that much of the development has been due to the low cost of the labour but the UAE has provided work for many millions of expatriates that would otherwise not have been available to them and has in turn benefited their families in their home countries. You can argue and perhaps generalise that workers rights have been ignored but it must be judged in respect of the country's development and not against our own standards which are the result of many years of progress.

I appreciate that the original post was about Dubai but as a resident there is a far greater depth to life compared to either going there for work or as a tourist. There is a lot of country to be explored and for readers of UKC a whole wealth of climbing, walking, mountain and road biking along with all the aquatic sports and the usual array sports such as rugby and football etc. For a resident it is not just about shopping malls and impressive hotels. These activities are open to any visitors if they take time to explore the country. Its not just thinking that life is all about money because not all, including Europeans, are necessarily well paid. People work hard for their salary and but do find a lifestyle that is interesting and satisfying.

It would be possible to go on at length but I felt that I should give some sort of balance in favour of Dubai and present a different picture, from personal experience to some of the views already expressed.
4
andy - on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to John Gregory:

D'you know Jim Davidson?
PeakDJ on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to John Gregory:
> Agreed that much of the development has been due to the low cost of the labour but the UAE has provided work for many millions of expatriates that would otherwise not have been available to them and has in turn benefited their families in their home countries. You can argue and perhaps generalise that workers rights have been ignored but it must be judged in respect of the country's development and not against our own standards which are the result of many years of progress.

Spoken like a true, long-term gulf resident.

I have heard this "excuse" for the poor treatment and payment of expat workers so many times. I too lived in the Middle East and through the course of my work there I learned that it isn't just a tiny minority that are "trapped" with their passport held by the employer, and made to work for much less, and in much worse conditions than promised prior to departure from their home country. Some people become immune to it when they've been a while and find ways to justify turning a blind eye - sometimes even taking part in the exploitation themselves.]

Construction workers still on site in 50+ Celsius, without enough water, living in squalid huts with 5 or 6 people sharing a room. Maids being beaten or raped on a regular basis. If these things were rare then I think your viewpoint holds true, but as they are much more common then many in the West could comprehend, I think it's too much of a positive spin to talk about all the benefits of employment for these people.

Yes, these workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines etc are desperate due to the lack of opportunity in their home country, but that doesn't excuse massive scale exploitation by countries like UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and others.... You suggest that the poor treatment of expat workers should be put in context of the country's development. To my mind, all those wealthy Emiratis know what it means to mis-treat their staff, pay them totally awful wages and - when the fancy takes them - knock them around or worse. They also know it's wrong to hold a passport or change the T&Cs when the staff arrive in country, but it still happens on a huge scale.

There are, as you say, some positives, in terms of the money sent home to the home countries. This benefits families financially but also leaves hundreds of thousands of kids with absentee parents, busy looking after spoilt Emirati/Kuwaiti/Saudi brats. I am not sure what many of these people are paid these days, but I can tell you that a couple of years ago in Kuwait it was the norm to pay a domestic worker 60KD per month (about 150 GBP) for a 7 day week. Those same workers often sleep in what we would call a cupboard, not even having enough space to lie in bed without curling up.

Some love Dubai - I think it's a symbol of many of the things we are getting wrong in this world. I think saying "but look at all the opportunity it has provided for workers from poor countries" is ignoring the sheer scale of the appalling human rights situation and exploitation of the desperately poor in Gulf countries.
Post edited at 16:51
Greenbanks - on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to PeakDJ:
This was pretty much my experience, talking directly to migrant workers. Much of the research narrative (the words of the workers themselves), incidentally, was deemed unpublishable, such are the 'sensitivities' and commercial imperatives in the region. That the UK (amongst many other countries) activily pursue contracts which are let on the assumption that they would more likely be awarded if labour costs were kept low is not a good reflection on our own role in all of this.
Post edited at 17:17
Rob Naylor - on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to John Gregory:

Whilst not a long term resident as you were, I have been visiting UAE regularly since 1981. I agree that some of the hinterland land is beautiful. Not, IMO, a patch on Oman in either breadth or depth. I also agree that there's been spectacular development of the area. Roads that were basically Gravel tracks when I first visited are now multi - lane highways, etc. But Dubai is basically just a huge ego trip..... Over development for over-development's sake, and mostly done with money borrowed from Abu Dhabi. Unlike some other parts of the Emirates, it's basically bling piled on bling for bling's sake.

And, yes, I too have noticed a strong tendency among long-term residents there to rationalise the darker side... and invariably drawn from that echelon of society that sits just below native Emiratis.
PeakDJ on 09 Oct 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:
> This was pretty much my experience, talking directly to migrant workers. Much of the research narrative (the words of the workers themselves), incidentally, was deemed unpublishable, such are the 'sensitivities' and commercial imperatives in the region. That the UK (amongst many other countries) activily pursue contracts which are let on the assumption that they would more likely be awarded if labour costs were kept low is not a good reflection on our own role in all of this.

Yes - it is very interesting talking to people out in the Gulf countries about the situation. I got to know some of those people from India and Bangladesh who supposedly "benefit" from employment in the Gulf - some fascinating, if depressing, stories. Some of these people even referred to their visa sponsor as their "owner" and what I witnessed would be knows as slavery anywhere else.

Working in Kuwait with regular trips to other Gulf countries for 2 years was enough of a Gulf experience for me - I won't be going back in a hurry! Oman is an exception in many ways - most of the expat workers seemed much more content there and the Omanis are, in general, a lot more humble than the Emiratis, Kuwaitis and Qataris - having said that, it'd be pretty difficult to be less humble than the Kuwaitis ;)
Post edited at 19:43

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