Showing posts with label Dubai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dubai. Show all posts

Monday, February 18, 2008

That frond is not yours...

From what I've read in numerous places online, there seems to be rampant American disgruntledness (is that a word?) regarding Dubai's exorbitant wealth in specific and the decadence of certain Gulf societal segments in general. I first noticed it a little over a year ago when a certain email was forwarded to me. This was one of those emails that is of such interest to people that it is forwarded thousands of times and makes its way seemingly around the entire internet. As proof of its popularity, I have received the same email (with slight variations) about half a dozen times since then, from contacts that have just now seen it and are continuing to forward it on.

Anyway, the email I am referring to is about the Dubai megaprojects. All the big poster-projects that have put Dubai on the map are listed in this email, including The Palms, The World, Dubailand, Burj Al-Arab, Burj Dubai, The Waterfront, Ski Dubai, etc etc etc. For each project, there is a picture (usually an artists rendition) and a small caption detailing the hype and fascinating statistics of the project depicted above it. So, as you read through the email you get a taste for the stunning things going on in Dubai and the projects are indeed so ambitious and impressive that the result, I believe, on many people is to make them... jealous. When certain Americans see these amazing things being built not in the great United States but rather in some unheard of "emirate" in the Middle East, there is a notable component of jealousy in their reaction.

At the bottom of the email, after one reads about and sees all the incredible projects in Dubai, is always some commentary. This commentary is very sarcastic and elitist, and reads something to the effect of, "you're paying $3 per gallon so the Arabs can ski in the desert!" While this snide remark is obviously made in jest, the inference is that the only reason all these amazing projects are happening is because THE AMERICANS are spending so much money on oil.

This allows the jealous Americans to feel that they are still somewhat responsible for the blossoming oasis that is Dubai. By tying all of Dubai's success to oil profits, it removes credit from the numerous individuals and corporations that actually built the projects and gives credit back to the Americans. It lessens the guilt Americans feel for not building these megaprojects themselves (to understand why America is not building great things, read my other posts). Whenever a new skyscraper goes up in Dubai, Americans waive it off by pretending its really their own money with which it was constructed. Every floor of the latest 110-floor tower equates directly to the last several refills at the pump. One can almost point to a specific frond on The Palm Jumeirah and claim, "that's the one I paid for!"

Well I hate to break it to you, America, but you didn't pay for that frond. You paid for a barrel of petroleum. You bought a product, a gallon of gasoline refined from oil, and you paid a specified price to obtain it. The deal ended there. You got your gasoline, the refinery made some profit (as did the gas station and a thousand others in the supply chain) and thus the deal concludes. All you can claim credit for is the gasoline you acquired and the resulting benefits you derived from it.

Credit for the megaprojects in Dubai should be given where credit is due. The investors who risked millions on crazy ideas, the entrepreneurs who opened up new avenues of business, the artists and architects who designed the projects, and the Government in Dubai which has realized - more than the American Government - that open trade results in great things.

So, Americans, keep enjoying your Dubai megaproject emails. Sit back in your comfortable mediocrity, keep allowing the US Government to rob you of your wealth, and keep pretending it will move you forward. Meanwhile, places like Dubai, which increasingly allow markets to operate without the interference of the misguided democracy, will simply pass you by as Obama coaxes you into serfdom. The frond is not yours.

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