If the U.S. sinks into a depression, you might want to think about spending the next ten years elsewhere. Why suffer needlessly? Our new series will explain, Maher-style, where you might want to go next. This week: what about Dubai? It's a super-developed port city in the United Arab Emirates. Full of expats, it's a Disneyland of weird architecture built on oil revenues.Dubai is in the midst of a huge boom. "Somewhere between 15 to 25 percent of the 125,000 construction cranes currently operating in the world today are located in Dubai," Slate says. It has shopping malls and lively nightlife for your Western enjoyment—the New York Times called it a 2008 party destination. Foreign universities like Michigan State, American University in Dubai, and Harvard have set up branches there. There's even a Time Out Dubai! Every media outlet has covered exploding Dubai in recent years, but whoa! This is not a Zagat rating. Just because there are plenty of expats from all over (its native population accounts for only 20%) doesn't mean you should go there. Says one British expat, whose lives in a perfect Western-style suburb with her contractor husband, to the Guardian:
"Oh yes, it looks good, doesn't it? But we've all made a pact with the devil to be here. You get the tax-free salary, but in return you have to give up all your rights. There's no accountability, no transparency, no rule of law. There's no legislative body. Very few employment rights. It looks like a modern country, but it takes more than a few skyscrapers to create one of those. Scratch the surface and it's a different story. And if you're a silly young girlie who gets into trouble, then forget it.'
You can face up to six years for having sex on the beach, like a recent couple is dealing with now. You can get fired from your job for any reason. (Just like here! Haha.) You can be held without trial for months! You get 4 years in jail auto-fucking-matically if you're caught with drugs. Oh, and there's the combo plate of these problems: "Cat Le-Huy, a producer with Endemol, spent three weeks in jail without being charged, for possession of Melatonin—jet-lag pills." Also! The huge construction boom relies mostly on armies of exploited foreign workers who need to pay off a debt to whatever person or agency brought them to Dubai. Large construction sites are referred to as "labor camps." Says the Dubai Expat Forum: about getting a work visa:
"Men can sponsor their wives and children, but only women in a handful of select occupations (lawyer, doctor, teacher, engineer – on high salaries) can sponsor their husbands. A wife's visa will say 'Housewife-not permitted to work', but she can work provided the husband provides a NOC (No Objection Certificate). You cannot sponsor your partner if unmarried. It is also illegal [for unmarried couples] to co-habit."
Also, you can drink in bars, but you cannot have it in your home unless you have a license. And that's if you're a non-native—it's illegal for Muslims to have it. Also: local laws not a big fan of the gays! "When I visited last week, it was Ramadan and the restrictions in Dubai are far harsher than in any other Arab country I've visited. Eating and drinking during daylight hours is illegal; even for non-Muslims, having a sip of water can mean a jail sentence," added the Guardian. So, scratch Dubai. Next week, we'll explore Shanghai.