Walt Disney meets Albert Speer on the Shores of Araby

Culture and Media

Amardeep has an extensive post (I don’t know how he can be so prolific) on the latest Ram Gopal Verma movie, Sarkar. It seems Sarkar has stirred up a controversy in the UAE, the link is here, but it was something else that caught my eye:

…“Amitabh Bachchan was appointed ambassador of the Dubai Shopping Festival this year. But instead of promoting Dubai, he has acted in a movie which shows Dubai, particularly its national hero in bad light,” another viewer said.

I didn’t know there was such a thing as a shopping festival. There are twenty five malls in Dubai, and many souks. Not only can you shop till you drop, there are cultural events and performances you can go to. Here are some photographs from the festival by Brian McMorrow. One of the things the festival has is a Heritage Village” where you can see live exhibits” of Arab culture. If anything or anybody is in a museum, you can generally be certain that they have perished or perishing.

Dubai seems to be a city of excesses, the crown prince, known affectionately as Sheikh Mo, has big plans for Dubai, which have included an under water hotel, the tallest building in the world, a ski resort in the middle of the desert. Mike Davis has an essay on Dubai (via Tom Dispatch), its imagineered urbanism” and what it takes to be that way. You guessed it (or maybe not) 99% of the workers in the private sector, making these mega-projects are from South and Southeast Asia. Their living conditions and lives are the darker side of Dubai–a British colonial style of indentured servitude. Not to mention all the Russian women sold into sexual slavery. The Davis article doesn’t mention it, but one has to wonder what about the people from the UAE who aren’t wealthy oil sheikhs or connected to the Royal family? maybe they subsist on performing at the Heritage Village?