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The place between east and west

Dubai emphasizes its Bedouin culture, but is still the most "Western" in the Arab world. This can be a provocation for those who do not want modernity or Western values ​​on the Arabian Peninsula.


Dubai has spent millions of dollars marketing itself internationally as one of the most expansive places in the Arab world. Dubai can be said to have succeeded in full force. The goal for Dubai was to become the Singapore of the Middle East, but has already passed both Singapore and the rest of the world in adventurous development. Dubai has become the Arab's response to the dream of America. The difference is that Dubai's intention is to be somewhere between East and West.

Where in the world can you experience a luxury life with a touch of 1001 night? The new hotels in Dubai are constructed around the Arab culture as we know it from European art history of the last century, that is, something exotic. Dubai is strongly committed to tourism. In 2003, tourism was the main revenue for the emirate and Dubai's target is 15 million tourists in 2010.

Dubai has many major projects under construction, including an artificial peninsula, shaped like a palm tree, consisting of luxury apartments, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. There it is perfectly possible for rich people to buy an apartment without citizenship. Soon Dubai will have its own Disneyland with the Bedouin culture as the theme. Dubai has also focused on sports, and has built some of the world's most attractive golf courses.

Dubai's industry is also booming. In 2003, 10 per cent of revenues came from this part of the private sector. Soon a new mega project is also coming; BuBiotech, which will become an industrial area for the development of biotechnology.

In Dubai, therefore, there are no boundaries when it comes to creativity, and the emirate emerges as the wonderland above anything in the world today.

Against Americanization

Dubai's success can be a provocation for those who believe that Arab identity is not a Bedouin culture, and that Dubai becomes too superficial with a population that has money but no political rights, and where cheap labor is used to maintain a life of luxury. In addition, the cheap labor has no social rights, but lives only in the emirate to make money. Many believe that this creates an artificial society with many of the dark sides of the West, such as drugs, alcohol, prostitution and economic crime.

There is reason to believe that Dubai could be the next target for terrorists, because this emirate is the most liberal of them all in the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia, for example, is a tightly controlled regime of secret police like the Shah of Iran had before the revolution in 1979. Terrorists may have a goal to show that such a liberal society is not a role model for the Arab world, and that the political Dubai's leadership supports President George W. Bush in the fight against terrorism.

A vulnerable geographical area

The election of the new Conservative leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran is not positive for the Gulf states. Nobody in the Arabian Peninsula wants Iran to start rattling with the sabers or move in a more fundamentalist direction. Especially not after Iraq's weakening regime, which means that there is no balance of power in the Gulf. In addition, there has been a protracted conflict between Iran and the United Arab Emirates over the islands of Abu Musa, Great and Little Tunb in the Arabian Gulf. From a military point of view, the United Arab Emirates is entirely dependent on the United States to defend the country.

These factors could help weaken Dubai's economy, which in turn could lead to growing opposition to the regime, as well as demands for political rights. Internal opposition can give terrorists the opportunity to recruit members from the local population.

This is very unlikely, because Dubai has chosen to build its identity on the Bedouin culture, which means that the people have a strong loyalty to the political leadership. The loyalty of the Sheikhs is as strong today as it was when the federation was formed in 1971. The terrorists must thus recruit people from other countries who do not have the same loyalty to Dubai, but in Dubai do not gain foreign labor citizenship. Thus, they also have no opportunity to develop an identity problem, which the suicide bombers in the UK were very likely to have. The foreign workforce has a contract that states that they are in the country only to make money. Money is thus the foremost motivation for staying in the emirate. If foreign labor chooses to be disloyal to the regime, they are thrown out on the day.

Foreign workers from Iran, Pakistan and India make up the majority of the 122 nationalities living in Dubai. Not to make this group stronger, Dubai is now picking up foreign labor from Asian countries, fearing that Iranians, Pakistanis and Indians will be a destabilizing factor in the future. The locals make up only 20 percent of the population!

Many live as exiles in Dubai because they have no country to return to, such as many who fled the Iran revolution in 1979.

Therefore, it will be more difficult for terrorists to recruit helpers in Dubai than in, for example, Saudi Arabia, which has a strong opposition to the regime, as well as many exiles in Dubai emigrating to the United States or Canada, because they understand that they will never turn around. back to their original homeland. Dubai is thus only a transit point for many of them.

Election of new president

What could affect Dubai's success and development outside of terrorism? Although Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are a stable regime today, there are many factors that can change stability. President Zayed died on November 3, 2004 at the age of 86. His successor was Sheik Khalifa, former Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Does he become as human-friendly as Sheikh Zayed was? In addition, Sheikh Zayed was not a decadent person, like many other rulers of the Arabian Peninsula, such as the Saudi Arabian princes. This has led to Sheikh Zayed having respect as a leader. Central sources say that Sheikh Khalifa will not be able to gain the same legitimacy as her father. Many believe Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who has been the United Arab Emirates Secretary of Defense since the establishment of the federation in 1971 and became crown prince in Dubai in January 1995, will be the next president in the long term in the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Mohammed is a prime mover in the development of the modern Emirate of Dubai. It is said that he is the one who will carry on the legacy of Sheikh Zayed, but also the legacy of his father, Sheikh Rashid, who died in 1990, and was the forerunner of Dubai's adventurous development with his genuine business talent. If sheikh Mohammed becomes president of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai will emerge as the leading emirate in the federation.

Sheikh Mohammed is a driving force in the process of diversifying the economy in Dubai. As President, he will also be able to drive the diversification of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi's oil revenues are stipulated to last for one hundred years, and Dubai only to 20, but already in 2003, oil revenues accounted for only six percent of Dubai's GDP.

In principle, sheikh Mohammed as president will ensure stability, but also strengthen the integration of the federation. The likelihood is also high that the United Arab Emirates is moving towards centralization. Political centralization, as well as diversification of the entire economy, and not just Dubai's economy, will make the federation stronger and more resilient to both internal and external instability.

A happy population

The terrorist threat in Dubai is very likely not to come from internal forces, but from external ones, as a counter-reaction to Americanization. Bombs in Dubai will pose a threat to the adventurous development of the emirate. But, where in the world will we be safe from terrorism in the years to come? Stability in Dubai shows that economic development is one of the most important factors for internal stability, but it also shows that building an internal culture based on the original Bedouin culture has been a stroke of the political leadership because it has maintained its identity and thus loyalty to the sheikh families. The big question is whether the governing bodies will give 20 percent of the population political rights? Giving political rights to the rest of the population, ie the 80%, poses an excessive risk. Dubai has opened up to grant foreign labor citizenship. Many have lived in Dubai since 1971. Initially, it is only to those who have distinguished themselves and shown loyalty to the regime.

In the long run, it will be difficult to keep the Bedouin culture as identity. Local travel around the world is influenced by the media and educates in England or the United States. An increasing number of women are in leading positions. In addition, many of them marry non-locals. The result is that Dubai becomes a miniature version of the United States, but without democracy or a limited form of democracy. It will be exciting to follow Dubai and the United Arab Emirates in the years to come, but at this time it does not seem that anyone is concerned about these issues. The development is going fast, and whether the population is local or from another country in the world, they are happy to live in Dubai. For where in the world can one live as in fairy tales?


The United Arab Emirates is a federation formed on December 2, 1971, and consists of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, the capital, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwan, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah.

The United Arab Emirates was granted a provisional constitution in 1971. It was not until 1996 that the permanent constitution of the federation came.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the largest and most important emirates in the federation. Abu Dhabi is the seat of the federal government and center for the oil industry, while Dubai is the major commercial center of commerce and business.

The governing distributes oil revenues generously to the population, but only the citizens, who make up 20 per cent of the population, have access to these goods. The entrance fee is citizenship, but the law grants citizenship only to those residing in one of the emirates in 1925 and to their descendants.

It lives approx. 3 million people in the country, where over 80 per cent are foreign workers. Dubai's population has grown 212 percent over the last 20 years. Dubai appears to be a multicultural society with a population of 122 nations, although foreign workers from Iran, Pakistan and India make up the majority.

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