Dubai from the Air

On our flight from Sharjah to Damascus, we got a pretty decent view of some of Dubai’s recent architectural feats, including the world’s tallest building, the Burj Dubai. From the air, Dubai really looks like a weird space desert colony from a sci-fi movie or video game.

The Emirati population of Dubai is about 10%, meaning that overseas workers make up the vast majority of the emirate’s population. With all this construction, one can imagine that the 10% will become smaller and smaller in the near future. Exactly what kind of country is this?? [One expat that we met suggested that it wasn’t a “real” one.] I generally think of countries being run to improve the lives of their citizens, but at 90% non-citizen it would seem that the country has to be governed largely to meet the needs of the overseas workers as well (even if they don’t have a say in how things are run). Does the presence of all of these overseas workers really improve the lives of the local Emirati? Do the mega building projects? Also, I do not believe that there is any path to citizenship for overseas workers–so is the intent to have an endless stream of Indian laborers and western expats cycling through? [Perhaps all this is just the envy of a citizen of a country that no longer seems to have such monumental ambition.]

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