The Dubai Open Debate
I have been living in Dubai for almost ten years now, and I find it extremely appalling whenever the Dubai Open Debate is brought up in social gatherings; the Dubai Open Debate is when people gang up and start trashing the city they reside in, glorious Dubai!
I was having dinner with some people last night, many of them have been residing here for sometime and the remaining few are white collar new recruits, all of them are from different countries, cultures and backgrounds, yet they all had one characteristic in common, they were all morbid critics of Dubai. It was agonizing listening to the ungrateful comments they made, to the point where I felt my blood boiling in my veins out of ardency, and the fact that there were no true defenders of the realm, where we were having our shindig (the dazzling address hotel downtown) added to the fury of my reaction.
I couldn’t help but jump in and ask: “ what are you complaining about exactly?” One of the girls sitting around the table who looked like an Arab Brittany Spears quickly responded: “well, its fake, it’s all fake, freaking skyscrapers everywhere, steel and glass, just fake.”
To add insult to injury, this comment came from someone who cannot remember the true natural color of her hair, even with all the “REAL” hair extensions plugged in her head, she cant tell whats going on up there, her blue contact lenses really complimented her brown chocolate complexion, tattooed puffed up lips, layers of make-up, and she came in riding on what seemed to be 7 inch shoes, which clearly implies that she is not against of skyscrapers, and towering manmade structures are as appreciated as Channel’s manmade products for the vertically challenged, nevertheless she was very attractive, but choosing the word FAKE to negatively describe anything should not be among her vocabulary.
I restrained myself with the utmost powers of my mind not to shout out what I really thought of her, after all this is a social gathering not Jerry Springer, so I explained ever so gently: “my dear, what is the harm in a little beautification here and there; Dubai is originally a desert bare land with no striking natural topography, when you stamp fake on a city or anything for that matter, I’m guessing you are implying it lacks natural beauty, and most of what we see is manmade, but not fake, because it is very real indeed, then again no one ever claimed or advertised Dubai to be the Alps of the middle east, no one ever said you must go see the breath taking rain forests of Dubai, although you must visit Albarari, it is a breath-taking rain forest in the middle of the desert, if anything Dubai is a testament to what man can do when nature has given so little, you out of all people must appreciate that.”
I could tell that a sense of discomfort was settling upon the group, everybody is used to diplomatic conformity in such evenings during the the Dubai Open Debate, but this topic has been argued in front of me for far too long by way too many people, and it was time to take a stand!
Another gentleman sitting at the far end of the table, very relaxed in his chair, wearing a blazer and vest, which makes one wonder who the hell still wears vests? its the type of people who can’t wait to tell you about where they were educated and how sophisticated of an institution it was, he obnoxiously professed in an articulate tone: “with all due respect sir, the bells and whistles of the city are much appreciated and are in fact beyond entertaining, it’s a delightful purpose for the slightly educated, however, it does not score very high with the highbrowed society” and he giggles alone, apparently he made a smart joke somewhere, but when no one laughed, he faked a cough and resumed: “one must admit to the actuality of Dubai, it is orderly uncultured, I have travelled the world, and each city has left a remarkable imprint within the sphere of my recollections, Dubai has failed to do so in every single scholastic alley; it has no real history, it lacks what we intellectual snobs call” and he paused to create tension, and he annunciated each word and said:“Layered Mental Stimuli” and he continued : “where are the theaters? the museums, the fine arts, the architecture?”
Nothing is more dreadful than an arrogant smart ass, this vested Ivy league prick thought that he had me cornered, and strangely enough I felt that all attendees started to huddle up with him against me, each one of them is preparing fresh new ammunition to keep me in that corner. I leaned back in my seat to assess the crowd, and it didn’t look good, I had to change my strategy, I couldn’t just wait for them to attack me while I deflect, I had to make an example out of their Alfa male, I'm not sure he qualifies as a male, but Alpha something, I had to go “Medieval” on their asses.
It didn't take me much time to gather my thoughts and to start battering away, so I replied: “its a million degrees outside man, you really look uncomfortable in these” and I annunciated as he did and said: “Layered Sweat Stimuli”.” I got a few giggles here and there, but it was not enough, I resumed : “the fact that you call yourself an intellectual SNOB redeems you of anything intellectual to begin with,intellect is only correlated with humility, but in your case more like humidity” I got a lot of laughs at this point, laughter is the best pol reader in any debate, regardless of the actual content, as explained further :“ If you ever read history, which you seek to study it in your travels as you claim, there are countries, empires, cities that rise and fall, and because Dubai has no glorified fallen rubbles like the rest of the cities you visited, does not mean you are not in the presence of greatness, if anything we are ever so lucky to have the opportunity to witness the rise of a new force, a new centre, imagine the likes of you living through the early days of new Rome, complaining that this is too new, fake and uncultured, thinking Egypt is where culture stimulus is. Wake up, this is Dubai, it has taken its shape and its place is well ranked and recognized, be a apart of this new history, change your attitude, we are the privileged few, say I came here and I witnessed, I helped make greatness, take an active role and create your own history where future travelers will read about you, imprint your name in their spheres, or whatever it is you said was imprinted on you”
At this point I felt I was preaching, and became one of those radical idealist who ruin dinner parties whom I despise so much, I had to diffuse the situation, so I stood up with my palms still on the table and in a theatrical performance I mimicked Martin Luther King’s famous speech and screamed: “I have a dream”. more laughs energized the debaters except for the slaughtered intellectual snob.
It was gratifying that we had a laughter after that brutal session, since laughter really enthuses the crowd, and without it, it could have ended my velocity in shutting down the silly, the vested and the obvious, because I knew the real debate is about to begin now, and the unspoken truths will come out soon, the obvious.
A big heavy guy next to me addressed the table directly, avoiding any eye contact with me, diminishing any dominance or presence I possessed, while he devoured a ball of seafood filled with what seemed to be the entire catch of the arabian gulf in oysters, in a deep monotonic voice he said: “I work in a construction company, and you should see the horrific conditions of the laborers there.” and he garbed two oysters in his hands and in a voracious manner sucks them in a spilt of a second, a blinding light flashed in my eyes which was reflected from his sparking gold and diamond watch, and he continues: “it is an atrocity to humanity. You won’t believe what these people have to go through, if this is the price of greatness; I’m not sure its worth it!”
And there we go, addressing the elephant in the room, I’m not saying he resembled an elephant, but he could take it easy on the burgers, or these poor oysters, maybe if he controlled his gluttony a little bit, the laborers in his company might have better living conditions, and he wouldn't need the assistance of the valet personnel to slide him into his Carrera, whom he poorly tips. Everybody turned to me with faces filled with sympathy, this was supposed to be the final blow, according to every Dubai Open Debate; no one comes back on top from this hot steaming topic.
However, I never really understood the basis of this offense, I responded:“you are actually telling us that your company is committing an offense against human rights, while you admittedly said you witnessed it first hand, you do realize that failing to report this act to the authorities is a crime that falls on your head. Please let us distinguish the difference between an offense committed by private insatiable companies and the failures of government legislations, the companies’ incentive is to make more money as it is the case with all companies around the world, the legislation of Dubai clearly protects the human rights, it is very clear and fair, I am in development as well, the labor department has issued numerous hefty fines and warnings to those who did not apply the Midday break and several other directives, even to the big prestigious conglomerates, inceptors roam the sites to make sure of that, and I believe you can concur to this, the fact that your company avoids it, does not taint the entire city as such. If General Motors or Toyota produced faulty cars that killed people does not mean that Japan is encouraging murder! The system is not perfect, and it is a work in progress, knowing that the legislator recognizes offensive acts by companies and is willing to evolve and issue laws and regulations to stop them is what matters.”
Another girl jumps at me screaming, waiving and splashing her glass of wine: “what fair rules? at every whim or contact with the authorities they hold you in jail or deport you faster than you can blink, there are no bankruptcy laws here, nothing, my friend is in jail for credit card debt.”
I find this the to be most entertaining part of the Dubai Open Debate, because people have this pre-conviction that what goes around in their home country must be applied everywhere, and if it is not, therefore it is wrong. I responded: “so your friend committed no offense whatsoever! And you feel he is being wrongfully accused and held up as he is innocent?!”. She replies: “of course, if there were bankruptcy laws in place he will be free and will go home.” I smiled and said: “ so he spent the money on god knows what, the money which the bank lent him and trusted him to honor his debt and pay it back, the money entrusted by depositors like you and me, our hard earned money, I am pretty sure you know how banks work”. she looked a bit confused but still approved my statement, I continued: “ so you are still saying that he must have the right not to pay back, you and me, and go back to his country just like that! Isn’t that the exact definition of stealing?”
She responds with severe bitterness in her voice: “the city you defend and love so much, will deport you before you sober up if they catch you driving drunk tonight.”
I couldn’t help myself from laughing out loud, a real deserved LOL, because is it very ironic indeed, if anyone reads this story, and a few months pass by to find me deported, but even to this harsh outcome (god forbid if it ever happens, I will haunt that girl for the rest of my life) there is a bright side to it.
In my humble opinion, behavioral psychologists and criminologists must come here and study the phenomenon that is called Dubai, the Dubai Effect, I told her : “I am pretty sure that you are referring the one strike rule Dubai applies, where if you have a serious offense you are to be deported after serving your sentence, well, to tell you the truth that is the case in most countries when dealing with foreigners who commit crime on their land, very seldom would you find a country which welcomes criminals to stay, so Mrs. Escobar, you can relax, Columbia will always welcome you, but this is not the point here, it is because everybody acknowledges and understands the devised one strike rule, it has lead to a better order in society, you see gangsters, thugs, violent people from all parts of the world and all slices of life, become exemplary good abiding residents in Dubai, I call it the Eden Syndrome, we are all Adams and Eves, and Dubai is Eden, and crime is the apple, avoid it and you shall live in the paradise of Eden happily ever after, to put it so simply if Adam and Eve saw Joe and Jane rejected out of heaven for eating the apple, they would have never gotten close to that tree” I looked around and then looked back at her and asked :“ would you ever default on a credit card?.” her lips were trembling with words, foul words I guess, I felt she wanted to throw the glass in my face but she was a bit hesitant, so I wanted to provoke her some more and said :“I rest my case, Denny Crane.”
Arab Brittany Spears exhaled sarcastically to my corny metaphor and commented again: “ok Adam, or Denny whatever” she paused for while and said again : “you are weird , who the hell is denny Crane? whatever I don't care” and she threw a big bundle of hair extension above her shoulder and continued : “ tell me what is this big obsession with being number one? All the superlatives of the world, biggest, longest, fastest,largest and why make it so quickly? it takes years if not decades for maturity and roots to develop, this is all not real.”
what do you respond to something like that? she still has the audacity to speak about roots, while her hair roots have not been seen in decades. I find it way more difficult to answer the simplest illogical question than the most complex logical question, its like asking why does Micheal Jordan need to be the best Basketball player? why does he keep running up and down the court so fast? you wouldn't even know where to begin!!!
Returning back to the basics with such illogical people is the best bet, build a simple logic platform and invite her to dance with you there, so I explained: “you are a TV show host for a local channel correct?” she only nods her head, afraid to give me anything to work with, I continue : “and I am pretty sure that you would like to host an International show in an International channel” she nods her head again. I resume: “can I also assume that you would like to be the best TV host ever, maybe the Oprah of the middle east or even bigger than Oprah”. she doesn't nod anymore, only a cold stare, I ask : “and what is the timeframe for such an accomplishment? 10 years, 20 years? wouldn't you want it to happen as soon as possible! wouldn't you want it to happen now, this very moment, don't want it so bad that you could almost taste it” I paused for while, to let her enjoy her Emmy Award moment, while she goes through the list of people she does NOT want to thank, I'm pretty she will mention me but only to curse me, I conclude: “this is the Dubai Attitude, this is the Dubai way, Dubai has ascended to become an Ideology, a School of thought, not only a destination, there will come a day in the very near future that this school of thought is adopted everywhere, people, companies, cities, countries, whenever faced with a challenge will ask, WHAT WOULD DUBAI DO ?”