At the end of Day 1 in Dubai, the day before the Summit On The Global Agenda begins, I am dazed and delighted. Here are some superficial observations:
I was just drinking a gin and tonic in a bar as heterogeneous as the one Han Solo walked into in Star Wars. Dubai is an amazing collection of cultures and colors, textures and tastes, native dress and undress. I saw as much plastic surgery in the time it took me to down the gin as I see in New York in a month (and that’s a lot).
Dubai is Las Vegas on steroids (or maybe Disneyland). There is an artificial/fantastical feel to the place. But then again, it’s probably my provincialism to compare it to what I know—Las Vegas. They have been doing beautiful fantasy in this part of the world for centuries (genies, flying carpets, etc.)
The architecture is breathtaking. I am looking at the Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs) right now, the tallest hotel in the world. It is shaped like a sail of a dhow, the traditional Arab sailing vessel, built on an island right offshore, and looks like it will sail off into the night. The architect is Tom Wright, a Brit. I usually focus on the people inside a building when it comes to architecture. Are the spaces good for their work or living? But this building is inspiring just to see.
There are lots of Russian tourists in Dubai. It’s only 3 hours to Moscow.
There are lots of Kenyans working in Dubai and they’re all happy about Obama.
There are large numbers of empty apartments here—the real estate bubble is popping in Dubai also, despite all the wealth in the area.
Did I say that the food is incredibly delicious? And the coffee is, well, the best I’ve ever had.
Enough. Work in the AM.
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