03 April, 2008

As Dubai Millionaires Multiply...

money masks missing liberties

"I couldn't have done a 10th of what I've done if it hadn't been for Dubai,'' says Naqvi, 47, who moved to Dubai in 1994 with $50,000 of savings and now runs buyout firm Abraaj Capital Ltd. His $5 billion of assets include stakes in Turkish hospitals, Saudi Arabian pharmacies and a Jordanian aircraft repair company. Successful investments include Dubai's Arabtec Holdings PJSC, which is building the world's tallest skyscraper, Burj Dubai, on a $20 billion construction site not far from Naqvi's office.
In a ditch near the Giorgio Armani-designed hotel on the tower's lower floors, construction worker Omkar Singh leans on a shovel and wipes sweat from his brow. Singh, 24, went into debt to pay 60,000 rupees ($1,500) -- more than six months of earnings, including overtime -- to an agent to get to Dubai from India. The agent promised eight-hour workdays. Singh says he works at least 10-hour shifts, six days a week. "I was taken for a ride,'' he says.

this is by far one of the most comprehensive and balanced pieces done on dubai. talking about human rights, the piece adds:

Sheikh Mohammed declined to comment for this story through Mona al-Marri, a spokeswoman at Dubai-based public relations firm Jiwin.

it goes on to say:

French-born Denis Ravizza says he's so comfortable in Dubai he doesn't worry about any loss of political freedom. "I don't care about living in a place where I don't vote and I don't decide,'' says Ravizza, 44, the associate dean of Dubai's French Fashion University. "What they decide for the country is good for me.''
Others say that freedom matters. "If we are talking about making Dubai the finest city in the world, it needs to be more transparent,'' says Maitri Somaia, 20, an Indian media and communications student. "I definitely don't feel oppressed, but whatever I say, I frame my sentences very carefully. I have to.''

Everyone who ever set foot on arabland, knew the ways of the government. those in power were not voted in, they inherited it. when we stepped on these sands, we also gave up the right to express our opinions in the way we knew back home. and the trade-off was made in return for security, a better quality of life, and yes, monetary benefits. why then, do we come to foreign lands and demand the luxuries we grew up with? why did we willingly give them up, if they were so important to us to begin with?


Kyle said...


Didn't you know being a millionaire is an old thing? ;)

Talk about bills and trills, now that's definitely an in-thing these days ;)

As for Dubai, there's no pluralism in mills, bills & trills, as the entire sovereign fund is held by one party ;)

Gargoyle said...

Perhaps there comes a time when the trade-off seems unequal, the returns no longer commensurate with the compromises. And at that point there is nothing left to do but leave, because - in the time-honoured manner of all break-ups - it was not Dubai that changed, it was you.

myself said...

coming from a democratic EU country, I do not feel like I have given anything up. back home we formally have democracy, meaning a bunch of retards are allowed to vote for whatever the biggest newspaper (targeted at retards) tells them to vote for.

seeing politicians back home just makes me angry, none of them has done anything they ever promised to do and most of them are caught up in seeking compromise and media attention. i'd happily trade them in any day for a sheikh who cares for his own people and can make decisions quickly and implement them with a signature. any day.

i havent given anything up and the nice thing is, if i should ever wake up and feel like i have, i can always pack up and go.

hemlock said...

kyle: =P totally sucks that i cant be a member of the rich boys club. cuz i aint a boy :(

gargoyle: isnt it wrong that that time comes when all our material needs have been satisfied, and life still doesnt have a meaning, and since we dont have much more of it to go, we decide to dedicate it to a good cause, championing rights for poor people and / or tigers?
the time comes when you learn (the hard way) that money doesnt buy happiness.

myself: i couldnt agree with you more. i come from a country where we have seen more army rule than civilian rule. and all of the civilian governments were dismissed on charges of corruption. i wish we had leaders like Sheikh Zayed (late) and Sh. Mo.

Lirun said...

commerical entrepreneurship sounds strong.. what about civic/social entrepreneurship? is that strong too?

Gargoyle said...

Hemlock, you have a point but my material wealth belongs to my bank and my landlord, so there's not much question of fulfilling all my material needs :)

My point was not about money, it was about the intangibles.

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