Dubai Urbanization

Topics: United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Middle East Pages: 5 (1556 words) Published: October 5, 2011
“Things happen at such a speed, in such a fragmented way, and with so little governmental oversight that to find one person
with a complete grasp of what’s going on is a very, very difficult task,” said Reinier de Graaf to Steven Zachs of Metropolis Magazine about the city of Dubai. Dubai is a city with very little history as a town and even less history as a major city;

however it has ignited much research, controversy and many to stare in awe from its rapid urbanization. The research will
delve into the reasons behind this growth and how it has been used to commodify the rich culture of those whom lived in the
place that Dubai currently occupies (Otherwise known as the Bedouins). There has been much controversy surrounding the reasons
for Dubai’s growth and that it is due to the cheap labor that is provided by the East Asians whom flee to Dubai in search
of a better life and a higher income. Dubai had the least amount of oil reserves and yet it surpassed all expectation when
it flourished, the research surrounding this phenomenon explains how Dubai used its Bedouin history and prime location to
grow quickly and attract many tourists. The city of Dubai maybe the global hub of the Arab World, but it is also one with
many controversies and hypocrisies. The link between all these different ideas is Guy Debord’s “The Spectacle”. Briefly explained, the Spectacle is the representation of society in the form of a commodity, where people end up being spectators rather than

active participants in society.
Donald P. Cole’s “Where Have the Bedouin Gone?” provides insight on how the Bedouin whom were the natives in the Gulf and
many other Arab countries are now gone and have had to assimilate themselves within the state. He argues that the use of the
Bedouin heritage to attract tourists just shows the pride that the country has for its history, however therein lies a question: How is it history, when most of the city has been urbanized to the point where it is now considered a mega-city. Another contributor to the issue of Bedouin in Dubai is R.W. Hawker, however Hawker argues that the Emirates citizens may not be so proud of their

heritage, and they feel it as insult when they are called Bedouin. Hawker also argues that the reason the image that the West
has of Bedouins is solely based on early pictures from the
preconstruction boom in 1980. Both scholars believe that the Bedouin traditions are incorporated very well into the tourist attractions of the city; during the annual shopping festival (the Dubai
Shopping Festival), and within the city attractions (Dubai Heritage Village for example). While Cole seems to see it as pride
that these historical people are commoditized, from Hawker’s style of writing it seems that he sees it as a way that the Bedouins
are being degraded. The spectacle of course within all of this is the commoditization and representation of history, in a
city where history is actually less than three centuries away. In 2004, the population of Dubai was 1.27 million, of which 83% were foreign-born (MUG); most of those 83% are the workers
whom are building Dubai’s looming skyscrapers, and some of the tallest buildings in the world. These workers come from mostly
Asian heritages and seem to find Dubai much better than their home countries, according to Ahmed Kanna of The Middle East
Report. Kanna’s research describes the brutalities that many workers often face in the work place and in Dubai in general.
While some feel that they live a better life, many others wish they could go back home. Within this report lies one of the
major controversies of Dubai; the unseen workers. According to Kanna, many of these workers are not allowed to roam the streets
of Dubai freely but are limited to certain areas, this shows Dubai’s fixation on image. These workers are only allowed near
private homes in the case where they are also servants or maids there. Even though many complain of the life they are...
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