While the Arab world is experiencing the snowballing effect, people are chucking snow balls at each other in Dubai’s malls. Just when the Jasmine Revolution overthrew Ben Ali in Tunisia, pulse points were touched with the fragrance of jasmine in the stores of the United Arab Emirates that have no inclination for any other kind of flower power.
The Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), an annual pilgrimage for retail therapy, has just concluded and reportedly there was a 142 per cent increase in sales at some outlets and electronic goods sold over 40 per cent more than they ever have. Brochures talk about the man of vision who wrote on water. It is supposedly a line from a poem by the ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. Some of the palm islands may be sinking, but that has not prevented the feel-good factor from permeating.
This is what will save the sheikhs. There cannot be a people’s movement when the people are not your own, do not have citizenship rights and have to renew their residence permits regularly.
As in most parts of the world, the financial crisis hit the Emirates too and people left behind their cars at airports because they had no money to pay back loans. But many decided to stick it out. The local Emiratis won’t rebel because they are either well-settled or they have options elsewhere. Many are or consider themselves to be a part of the various royal families. These royal families, unlike the leaders elsewhere, are happy enough to be on postage stamps, as portraits in almost every establishment. They keep getting fantastical ideas and invite the best people to give shape to their vision.
Embittered immigrants – flotsam and fiefdom alike – make their cocoons here where anyone can become a chameleon.
Farzana Versey in counter currents. More Here.