another city of extremes, dubai offers a unique experience according to your spirit and willingness to get out and explore. i was there the summer of 2007, when scorching heat prohibited anyone to remain outside for a period of time; anyone except for them. according to what we could learn from people in the area, thousands of indians are shipped and flown to the city, to work under what essentially is modern-day slavery. i saw a huge group brought in when i was at the airport. they come here with the promise of a job to go back and provide for their family. yet what they come to is immediate and permanent debt to the boss, for the squalid housing and food they receive does not equate to their salary. their passports and documents are withheld from them, they are trapped in a burning vortex of sand and cranes, dust and rebar, concrete and asphalt. these are the people that have built the city of dubai with their blood, sweat and tears. it is the unspoken face of dubai, while the elite merrily gets jetted from the high-end shopping mall to their seven star hotel, without ever catching a glimpse of the boiling heat or the broken bodies who built their bubble.
the sand dunes in dubai show what this land looked like before oil was discovered underneath. relegated now to a tourist attraction, a friend and i payed an irani some money to take us on the ‘desert safari’. a caravan of pathfinders take off to hit the dunes hard, depending on how much you can encourage your driver. sometimes stopping to rest, you can spot camels and the occasional burned car part buried in the sand. the driver confirms my suspicion, “a few trucks never make it out of here”. after a whole day of duning, we arrive at a type of oasis, where endless food and bellydancing, camel rides and drinks are served until nightfall consumes the day.