Downturn Lays Bare Dubai's Dark Side

Boomtown's shaky foundations becoming apparent as hard times hit
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2009 9:09 AM CDT
A plane approaches the skyline of Dubai. The credit crisis has brought work to a halt on many of the emirate's grand building projects.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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(Newser) – Dubai's "Disneyland for grownups" is becoming a more sinister ride as the emirate's boom times end. Countless grand building projects lie half-finished in the sand while indentured building workers from abroad unable to leave languish in work camps, Johann Hari writes in the Independent. He sees Dubai as a metaphor for the "neo-liberal globalized world that may be crashing."

Dubai erupted from the desert in a few decades of wild, credit-fueled spending, attracting hordes of Western expats happy to ignore its lack of freedoms to enjoy a lifestyle of sun, sand, and cheap servants. As the credit Dubai was built on dries up, however, some find themselves as trapped as the emirate's Bangladeshi laborers and Filipino maids. "This isn't a city," said one Canadian woman left homeless when her husband was jailed for being unable to pay his debts. "It's a con-job."