Saturday, 30 June 2007

Sci Fi Dubai

It never ceases to amaze me how relatively short journeys around this city can feel like international or even inter-planetary travel given the differences between departure and destination points. I am going back to the UK for a couple of weeks soon and will bring back and re-read Brave New World because it keeps coming into my head when considering the different levels of human existence in Dubai!

In fact it makes me think of Sci-Fi in general, especially all those stories about colonisation of other planets. The skyline is a futuristic masterpiece straight from the covers of 70s paperbacks and the colonies springing up with their brave new names just add to this perception for me. Green Community, International City, Knowledge Village and Culture Village (incidentally what’s the problem with towns??) Then there are all the 'Thes' .. Springs, Greens, Views, Meadows, Lakes, Lagoons and Islands. All the familiar comforts of the watery home planet.

My personal favourite is the less well known Dubai Silicon Oasis… although Ivory Tower deserves a mention and I would like to know just how high Eco-Tourism World registers on the irony scale !

Coming from a part of East London that is very mixed and where everyone is crammed together on the tube I can’t wait for the metro to be built and was happy about the bus announcement a few days ago too. This is partly because I am very much a public transport type person but it may actually force a little bit more mixing it on the Dubai streets.

Until then it will be taxis all the way and as is the case all over the world taxi drivers are mines of information. I had a great one the other day, an Indian guy who gave me a very detailed statistical breakdown of the ethnic composition of Bur Dubai which was fascinating. He also taught me some useful Hindi which is the language that I really need around here!

Decided to illustrate this with a borrowed and doctored pic that I hope I don't get sued for using ..... I really should find something better to do with my time.


  1. where everyone is crammed together on the tube

    The problem here is that people are not used to being crammed together with those of other nationalities, let alone other genders. I foresee some real troubles on the metro, though the three-class system may help. It's sad that there has to be different classes, but you cannot impose decades of western-style commuting/culture/expectations/"acceptable" gender behaviour on people in a few days or weeks.

    The staring thing one gets here is bad enough - can you imagine using the London Underground if men stared at women like they do here? I have had to move my seat in waiting rooms for government services and clinics several times because of unnerving, fixed stares.

    And God knows what it will be like getting jolted against a stranger in a crowded carriage.

    I also feel great concern for men who will get wrongly accused of "touching" women because of the closer contact that rail travel involves. If the metro jolts and a labourer is thrown against some woman and she makes a complaint, chances are it will be her word against his whatever the circumstances; the fact that she has been discomfited will be enough to nail his coffin.

  2. Very true! I didn't think about the realities of this at all and I should seeing as I have already appreciated the bus system! It's great being able to stroll to the front of the queue and just get in to your reserved seats at the front.

    Also didn't realise there are going to be three classes on the metro... more research required!
    Thanks SD

  3. how about brave new world revisited also by Huxley, some how i enjoy that commentary much more than the book.