On Dubai and other rants

I need a primer because I’m in a really bad mood but I know that I must get my old brain-housing group up and running quickly before I get back to work. This is not a particularly insightful post but that’s up to the reader. It’s been a bad month. Before I forget, but not on purpose, to those of you who dropped me those kind notes of condolence on my mother’s passing thank you. What I feel is beyond words, so really, I do thank you all for your prayers. My family and I will need them. Not only did we bury mom on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack – something I forgot until that evening – I almost didn’t make the funeral, fell into a soft hole in the ground a few feet from the still-open grave, much to everyone’s dismay. Even the older folks present, their ages totaling about 200 years, managed to negotiate the wet ground without any major problems. No big deal though, as I have little ego to worry about. I asked for the process to continue until the end.

I flew to Atlanta to wait for the long flight to Dubai, as I fly to and from this busy city on business for several years. I don’t enjoy the process at all. The highlight of my wait was the Sushi bar at the international flights concourse One Flew South. I get good conversation, wine and free WiFi. Look up Norman at the bar. After such a long week I felt a little better there. Good place.

I made the flight back here in Dubai for the night then on to Iraq. I can only get CNN here and I’m doing my best not to freak out but Christianne Amanpour is interviewing General McChrystal now I will watch. I am a news junkie after all. But the hubbub about Dubai’s economic troubles (due to spending, right?) is something you have to see for yourselves. I’ve been disgusted with their spending and their showiness since I started flying here years ago.

I know many people for the longest time, had gone all mushy over this place, its welcoming of western people, its modern buildings and western-style city skylines are though pleasing to the eye, truly, no more than an illusion. One guy commented to me on the way to the airport a few weeks ago about the tallest building being completed and I just rolled my eyes. So what’s a building that big good for anyway? You have to rent out the spaces to make up for the investment, and I am not an expert but even I know this to be a fact. On the surface the unbridled spending, the keeping up with the Mohammeds and all this luxury cannot hide the ever-present work force from countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, Nepal and India to name a few. There is an air of poverty floating beneath the opulence of this Mid East nation.

Slavery and human trafficking exist out here big time. I’m sure that kind of wealth is being built with that human machinery but no news reports on that. This place and all its glitter will go down hard and I hope that America finds a way to stop the same process from destroying our economy and way of life. We should be paying attention to the Dubai issue more than ever. Not I have a problem with spending when there is wealth, but only as long as it creates wealth for all. It’s expensive to live and shop here, with the exception of duty free shopping and frankly I could care less about that. Those who hold the wealth here are an elite few so you know where this is going.

At some point the spending will have to stop because there are simply no more resources or any more stuff to build. There is a huge difference between wealth creation and prosperity stemming from a healthy economy and out of control spending just for the sake of spending. Not like the U.S. has not experienced this already, as the first 10 months of the Obama administration spending like it’s nobody’s business then doing the old switch-a-roo and telling the people, hey, our spending has destroyed the free market as well as jobs (I know it’s glib, forgive me, I’m tired). So all of this catering to foreign investors, mostly Europeans who run around here scantily clad like they’re back home and not in a Muslim country and I’m wondering when that well of tolerance will run dry. I would find this place just as dangerous to westerners as any other place in the Mid East and personally make sure that I am not seen in too many public places anymore. I wonder when this place will be unsafe even to those who own businesses because those who are radicals, and they do exist, will have had enough of the foreign invasion. Call me paranoid, okay?

But don’t let me get off topic. I was telling you about things that bother me about Dubai and forgot to mention Christmas. Having traveled here over the years, if you have issues back in your hometown putting up a tree or ornaments (you know, like the UN’s climate conference) you won’t find that here. Here the government decks out the hotels, streets and malls as though you would back home in the states, then cranks up the decorations wars even more. It’s disturbing actually. I sat in the dining room at the hotel, trying to stay awake long enough to eat when I heard a really bad medley of Christmas songs emanating from a grotesque Santa Claus figure displayed on the hostesses’ counter. The two Indian servers stood next to the bobbing and twisting of the Santa figure giggling like idiots and glanced over at my table. I shook my head in disgust but they let the stupid thing play a couple more songs before it died on its own. The songs sounded like a beat up tin can. I wanted to throw my fork across the room but I kept my cool. I know I’m stressed and tired a bit but the use of Christian holidays in this place is strange to me…annoying even.

I caught a glance of the Obamas on TV recently lighting up the White House tree and I thought, if he’s pretty much considered by many to be against Christianity and many think he’s the first Muslim president, then why light up the tree at all? Why is this president pandering to a national holiday he probably does not believe in? I keep tracking more and more stories all over the U.S. of cities and counties doing their best to ban religious displays in public places and that makes me angry. There is concerted effort to make Christianity disappear is evident in every nut job who complains that a crèche displayed along a highway directly discriminates and harasses those who do not choose to celebrate the season. It’s pathetic to see that in non-Christian countries these symbols – even those adapted from the old religion over time – are being used as cheap props in some sick play and Americans and others who do celebrate this season are the actors.  The destruction of our culture is not a joke to me.

That’s my rant. I have to nap before I fly. I hope they don’t play that stupid Santa over breakfast. I can’t say I will be successful in not getting angrier…

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