Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bye Bye Dubai

Living in Qatar certainly has some drawbacks, but one plus that greatly outweighs the negatives is the easy access to travel destinations. Inna and I recently returned from a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend trip to Dubai. The purpose of the trip was partially to go somewhere new, but mostly to just get away and shake things up a bit. Dubai seemed like a perfect choice, especially considering the fact that a Qatari friend of ours (who knows Dubai fairly well) offered to be a tour guide.

We met new people, went out on the town, relaxed by the beach, skied indoors and had some decent meals… all of which contributing to the contentment of the vacation. It was not until the last day that I realized that I did not like Dubai. I am a firm believer in having fun wherever you are and that fact sometimes dulls your ability to really see a place for what it is. This feeling happened last with Las Vegas, and now again with Dubai; I was having too much fun with the people and the idea of ‘vacation’ to realize that the setting was offensive.

It hit me as we were walking through the Mall of the Emirates. It began as a very small feeling of revulsion and worked its way to the verbal conclusion that “I find it offensive that so much space is dedicated to retail”. It was not until later that I realized that the ‘space’ I was referring to was not just the mall, but the entire city. The theme of the entire city seemed to be excess: If you have more money than you know what to do with, come to Dubai… we can help. I don’t expect many people to find that offensive, but I do, and it all boils down to my personal beliefs. I likened it in my mind to a devout Christian visiting Saudi Arabia. There is nothing inherently offensive about Saudi Arabia, but due to the Christians belief system, he or she may find the place offensive.

I feel very strongly against excess, greed, and materialism. These things simply rub me the wrong way. In normal life, and in normal places, I don’t take much notice of it because it is a part of a normal spectrum. In Dubai, it is the norm, it is everywhere, and it eventually overwhelmed me like a rising tide.

I don’t particularly blame Dubai for its character, as Inna pointed out, it’s their way of surviving, but I do find that it goes against what I have come to believe as ‘right’. This was more of a personal revelation than any condemnation of Dubai. Where some people stay away from countries with rampant poverty, because they find the sights unsettling/disturbing/offensive, I should stay away from locations of extravagance and excess.

PS… My dislike of excess and extravagance comes from the simple fact that we have too few resources to waste it on “the world’s tallest building” or (in the states) the five pound burger. My frugality reflects this viewpoint, although many aspects of my life probably conflict with the idea… after all, who defines excess.


Blogger oogie said...

Oh wow, great post! Loved and agreed with everything you said (a rarity).

8:08 AM  
Blogger CJ Nichol said...

You copied me. I told you all those things about Dubai long before you even went there. Maybe I influenced you for once.

4:29 PM  

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