Dark Side of Dubai

In a long but fascinating story about the Arab World’s biggest tourist destination, Johann Hari reports on the Dark Side of Dubai.

I wanted to understand how the government of Dubai will react, so I decided to look at how it has dealt with an environmental problem that already exists — the pollution of its beaches. One woman — an American, working at one of the big hotels — had written in a lot of online forums arguing that it was bad and getting worse, so I called her to arrange a meeting. “I can’t talk to you,” she said sternly. Not even if it’s off the record? “I can’t talk to you.” But I don’t have to disclose your name”¦ “You’re not listening. This phone is bugged. I can’t talk to you,” she snapped, and hung up.

The next day I turned up at her office. “If you reveal my identity, I’ll be sent on the first plane out of this city,” she said, before beginning to nervously pace the shore with me. “It started like this. We began to get complaints from people using the beach. The water looked and smelled odd, and they were starting to get sick after going into it. So I wrote to the ministers of health and tourism and expected to hear back immediately — but there was nothing. Silence. I hand-delivered the letters. Still nothing.”

A few years ago I started considering a visit to the UAE, but stories like this make me reconsider. However, at least one blogger considers this report as overkill.

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