Thursday, August 7, 2008
The international documentaries made on Dubai are careful with their camera work. It’s rare that you’ll see the skyline, littered with cranes and construction workers almost dangling from their deaths tens of stories up, without harnesses. The architecture looks brilliant on the outside. Sleek glass windows, buildings so tall from the ground you imagine they touch the stars at night, marble flooring, and in some of the higher-class hotels, faucets plated in pure gold. Look a little deeper and you’ll see the walls are cracking under the paint less than a year after construction was completed, the wiring is a mess causing random mini-explosions, plumbing backs up and the building itself is no more stable than a shack.

I fell into the trap of buying an apartment in Dubai. It wasn’t a month later that, that the air conditioner (a vital instrument for living in the UAE) stopped working. It wasn’t two months in when the toilet decided to continually flush itself with a constant rush of water making its way through the bowl, increasing my electricity and water bills to shocking amounts. It was the very first week I was there, that the pipes under my sink broke and my kitchen flooded. So very pretty on the outside, but its core is complete and utter crap. Still, that lovely little piece of property is worth about 33% more now, two years later then it was when I purchased it. Why? The illusion of Dubai is simply that grand!

Life in Dubai is much the same as most of these buildings. It is picture perfect on the outside, but disturbed at its core. Visit Dubai for a week and you’ll fall in love; stay there a few years and you’ll learn to despise just about everything about it. Dubai teaches you one thing really well, and that’s how to become a plastic person. The only problem with being plastic is, plastic can’t comfort your heart – nor can the plastic people you end up surrounded by. Material things take lead, while arts, emotions, anything that makes us human is forced on the back burner.

There isn’t a proper jazz club in Dubai. There isn’t a coffee shop where one can go and watch local talent, whether it be stand up, poetry readings or even a play. All of Dubai’s entertainment is imported for a short while – long enough to put on a show or two, then sent back home. In a place that populated, there has to be talent there somewhere. But who is actually looking for it? Who is willing to embrace it? And who is able to hold on to their own talents while the whims of personal belongings, and picture perfect life charades are taking over everything they do?

In the 12 years I lived in Dubai, outside of English class in school I met only one poet. He was a brilliant writer and most likely could have made something of himself on that talent alone. But he was Indian. And life in Dubai taught him that wasn’t ok. For months he lied to me and everyone he knew, taking on an assumed local identity, concentrating more on what people thought of him and how he could further deceive us of his roots, than he possibly could his writing. I don’t imagine he’s writing still. I don’t even know if I ever actually learned his first name. But he was a talent Dubai and Dubai’s society lost out on.

Dubai is an illusion. From the fairytale cities, to the Barbie-doll type people, there is no real life there; just plastic, paint and a decaying core.

11 words of wisdom:

Mars said...

It's hard to comment on that, as I agree and disagree. Perhaps it's just confusing. I've lived all my life here. It's home. But I don't like the changes that are happening - not all of them.

But yes, the illusions are deceiving

Tainted Female said...

I hear ya darling... I felt the same before I left. But spend a year away from there, and you'll see the full picture.

A world of Symphony said...

There isn’t a proper jazz club in Dubai.

Since when are you interested in jazz?

Are you spending too much time at my blog, Young Lady?

Tread carefully with jazz, it's highly addictive, even more so than a combo of all narco substances on Planet Earth.

You've been warned ;) LOL

Very true about the plasticity that you address here!

I, for one, would like to see Emirati talent show-cased here, be that in sport, art, music, culture etc. And by Emirati talent, I don't mean the ruling family kids but an average Emirati - someone that would help expats understand where these people are coming from & what drives them!

Tainted Female said...

I love the atmosphere of Jazz Clubs here in Victoria, and I've actually been trying to get out to one recently. But the inspiration and reminder of that fact about Dubai came from a post a few days ago on the Community Blog. I've never seen on there.

And I couldn't agree more. Talent period would be nice!

rosh said...

I kinda have to go with Mars. Dubai is not UAE - UAE has a lot more to it. In terms of Jazz, perhaps not. However, should you wish to explore the beautiful mountains of RAK, or wish to get away to lovely Fujairah - or perhaps camp at Khor Fakkan/Dibba Al Husn - to experience a true Emi farmer's hospitality or attend a camel race. UAE has plenty to offer from a perspective.

There are local as well as Arab poets and singers. It's just that, most of the talent remains within the local or GCC communities, primarily given a lack of integration between communities.

I agree, culture, art and it's multitude ways of life aren't explored across the UAE, as it is here in North America or Europe. However, with the exception of SHJ - the remainder of UAE is a young place, with a tiny indigenous population - hence not exactly an apple to apple comparison, I think.

Re: plastic DXB, unfortunately, rings quite true these days.

As for the Indian poet: perhaps he is a local? (there are many locals with subcontinent heritage and married to subcontinent people).

Tainted Female said...

I suppose you're right Rosh. I am making the same mistake most foreigners abroad do when it comes to confusing Dubai with being the entire UAE.

I have to say though, Abu Dhabi is creeping up behind Dubai, moving in the same direction. And, I wasn't personally just talking about local talent or just Jazz. I was talking about talent across the board. If there is as much local talent as you say, where are the plays? The translated books? I know Arabs have a thing for poetry, but as far as I can tell that's where it ends.

Re: the Indian Poet, no. He was Bangladeshi, I think. We had called his house and heard his mother talking to his father in Bengali, when we asked for him by the name he gave us (Ahmed Al Falasi) she told us no such person existed. He himself had a fit later when he learned we called for him, admitting he was not local, then he disappeared.

Imhotep said...


I quite agree with u

yah in general dubai is extremely plastic and more showoff country , when I be aboard ppl think dubai is just luxury hotels, tax free paradise, sport cars ...but they donno most of ppl getting beans, stuck in traffic 4 hrs/day and live in unsocial society.

talent in music, poet r not concern to anyone , simply cuz every one busy making money! .scan uae and ask y ppl there ? it is just for money (not for life,)even locals r wealthy but interest to get more money ( may be for bigger house and more wives!).

extra, UAE is religious country with majority of population r muslim who r not big fans in art or music stuff.



congratulation for your weight loss!. i've been in that since I lost 34 kg , it is amazing feeling ,feel like a new person, so enjoy .

I advice u to focus in healthy food and fitness rather than diet only.most of diet weight losers getting there weight back so be aware.

Tainted Female said...


Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with me. I hope you realize I really wasn't meaning to lose weight the way I did... I just happened due to a broken heart and the inability to eat.

People can die of a broken heart... I'm sure.

Saboodle said...

You're so right about Dubai, I miss the NE, I remember when we moved to Sharjah after only 1 year in Dubai, it felt like taking a deep breath, I looked out of the window and saw PEOPLE. Real ones. It felt like a real, normal place. ANd now, look at me back here. Sometimes I don't go out for 3-4 days and the heat and the pregnancy are just excuses. Canada looks enticing from here.

Imhotep said...

Oops! sorry , I didn't realize it was in that way. I'm bad reader and worse writer ( that is way i can't blog :D)

I hope u can get over that , I guess I know how u feel. I've been heart broken time ago and my life was misery, its like the end of the world!
the heal came after I forgot the past and continue in my life.

just replace all the sorrow inside u with new things...
new partner will be the best...instead try new things which u like but never try musical instrument, language new pp ..have a new friends

just move on

Amber said...

Hi Tainted. Hope you don't mind my stopping by.

I move to Muscat, Oman in a few days and then in 9 months to Dubai. I had this impression that it was very cultural and artsy, yada yada yada. I am an actress and thought "wow...I can go and learn so much about other cultures and still practice and enhance my own artform."


I don't know what the deal is...where are the plays? The new music? I hope I can survive. Really I do. Thank you for posting a very insightful blog on the topic...granted it's got me worried, but at least I am not walking into the situation blind. I may have to make my own theatre or something...


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