Friday, December 4, 2009

I Hope You Are Well Compensated

...for which to look so foolish. Those that I lack respect for in the world of City building consist of the cheerleaders, the whores, leeches, and the sycophants. This falls under all of the above, I do believe:
I'm writing to give a proper introduction to the city where I live and work, given partly to correct some misconceptions about Dubai -- a common one being the notion that Dubai is little more than an upstart Las Vegas alongside the Arabian Gulf. In reality, Dubai is a complex, multi-ethnic and multi-layered city, and far older than Las Vegas. (Actually, I can't understand the comparison at all, since there's no gambling here and the Dubai economy is far more diverse than tourism-based Las Vegas; with its large trade and financial sectors, the economic profile of Dubai is probably more similar to Hong Kong or Singapore or even Miami.
It must suck to come off looking like a mouthpiece for Dubai (at best). This particular planner works for a giant corporate conglomerate. Like all giant corporate conglomerates, they are both product and producer of the economy that just crumbled, much as Dubai will like a sand castle under foot of a rambunctious, destruction-minded 5-year old wreaking the havoc of time, history, and economics.

I personally left such a giant, publicly-traded, corporate conglomerate because I refused to fall into a similar trap and be beholden to nothing more positive than profit-motive at all costs. This planner, who lives in Dubai, must like his slaves servants to feel compelled to defend this:
As soon as he arrived at Dubai airport, his passport was taken from him by his construction company. He has not seen it since. He was told brusquely that from now on he would be working 14-hour days in the desert heat – where western tourists are advised not to stay outside for even five minutes in summer, when it hits 55 degrees – for 500 dirhams a month (£90), less than a quarter of the wage he was promised. If you don't like it, the company told him, go home. "But how can I go home? You have my passport, and I have no money for the ticket," he said. "Well, then you'd better get to work," they replied.
Of course, if he wants to continue collecting paychecks from such debt-ridden insolvent companies like Dubai World, he has to say the right things if you wish to remain out of prison in the country. But, my question is, where are your ethical standards? As Simon Jenkins wrote:
A true city is a mirror, in which the blemishes are our own.
Dubai is the ugliest of all cities. One in which I drew criticism for refusing to do any work in or for. I find it hilarious now, however, how many architects are coming out now criticizing the City and the irrational building exuberance that they were all too gleefully accepting as a chance to build their phallic monuments to themselves. All, will rightfully sit empty as a reminder of an ugly time and all the planners and architects that have participated in this wittingly or otherwise (more likely), are just as ugly of humans.

Now, I'll let Edward Glaeser, a far more intelligent and thoughtful person than the quoted planner above, discuss Dubai more freely:

Fifty-story buildings are an efficient way to deliver plenty of space, but extreme height is far more expensive and a bellwether of irrational exuberance.

Five of the 10 tallest buildings in New York City today were planned at the tail end of the ebullient 1920s and completed in the early 1930s. In their day, they were the tallest structures in the world, but it took more than a decade for the Empire State to stop being the “Empty State Building.”

And lastly, I leave the final thought with an American interviewed in Dubai:
"All the people who couldn't succeed in their own countries end up here, and suddenly they're rich and promoted way above their abilities and bragging about how great they are. I've never met so many incompetent people in such senior positions anywhere in the world." She adds: "It's absolutely racist. I had Filipino girls working for me doing the same job as a European girl, and she's paid a quarter of the wages. The people who do the real work are paid next to nothing, while these incompetent managers pay themselves £40,000 a month."