The Decline of Dubai

Watch propaganda videos of Dubai produced by its ruler, Sheik Mohammed, and you’ll see advertisements for a bizarre corporate wonderland, a city where everyone is the star in their own version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. In a fascinating piece, The Independent delves into the seedy underbelly of commercialized oasis and uncovers a city catapulted into the 21st century by an unseen army of slave laborers and run like “a medieval dictatorship.” The emirate, which looks like Las Vegas on steroids, is now dotted with disused cranes, expats are living out of their cars, and the sheik’s insane architectural fantasies—including the billion-dollar Atlantis resort—are leaky and in disrepair. The city, the paper reports, is a microcosm of the excesses and recklessness that got the world to where it is today.