Saturday, January 27, 2007

Off to Dubai

I am travelling again, leaving tomorrow for Dubai where our company is exhibiting at the Arab Health trade fair.

I had been to Arab Health as a visitor last year.

My visit to Dubai last year occasioned a get-together of Rimcollians (alumni of the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun) based there. There will be a get-together again this time. I also hope to meet Dr Saif Alghais who teaches in the biology department of the UAE University; we were colleagues at the Salzburg Seminar in 1992.

I had been struck by Dubai's uniqueness, as a city that's a market. But I had also been disturbed seeing the large number of Southasian workers, who slept in shift-beds and spent holidays standing in the neighbourhood street junctions and gazing blankly into space as they had nowhere else to go. They work hard and save money in every way so as to have a better standard of living for themselves and their families back home. There are also many educated and professionally qualified Indians living comfortably in Dubai. But I had wondered whether I would have wanted to live in a place where life is defined singularly around personal material pursuits and consumption, and devoid of a relation to the place and the people, of self-expression and human intercourse, with the society, the culture, the public sphere, the civil society... politics.


Clarence said...

I lived in Abu Dhabi for two years and found the country to be a fascinating mixture of overabundance, overconsumption, and a generally wonderful, cosmopolitan place. It often seemed separated from reality.

irving said...

You're right about the foreign workers. Eventually, as in most such cases, there will be restaurants and activities for them opened by their countrymen in Dubai. The government should really make an effort to support this kind of business, as to benefit them.

Ya Haqq!

bonita said...

I've seen programs about the big hotel pictured here; its ostentation is unfathomable. I can't imagine what the poor working class feel when they labor in such a place.

mfm157 said...

I read some of your blog posts and was really touched by them :) I'm glad to see someone write about Hindu-Muslim relations in an optimistic light.