At least we are not Dubai

Published: April 21, 2010

George Fulton is a freelance broadcast and print journalist.

We haven’t got a lot to be thankful for these days in Pakistan.

But at least we are not Dubai.

Fed up with loadshedding, bombs, and TV cynicism pervading Pakistan, I recently escaped to Dubai for a holiday. Big mistake. Huge. Ten days later I returned, gasping for Karachi’s polluted, but far sweeter, air. Dubai may have the world’s tallest building and the world’s largest shopping mall, but it also has the world’s tiniest soul. It’s a plastic city built in steel and glass.

It has imported all the worst aspects of western culture (excessive consumption, environmental defilement) without importing any of its benefits (democracy, art). This is a city designed for instant gratification a hedonistic paradise for gluttons to indulge in fast food, fast living and fast women. It’s Las Vegas in a dish dash. You want to eat a gold leaf date? Munch away.

You want to drink a Dhs 3,000 bottle of champagne? Bottoms up. You want a UN selection of hookers at your fingertips? Tres bien. Let’s start with the malls. These cathedrals of capitalism, these mosques of materialism are mausoleums of the living dead. Slack jawed zombies roam around consuming food, clothes and electronics in a desperate attempt to fill the emptiness of their existence.

Whilst at the Mall of the Emirates the azan goes off. Nobody appears to move to the prayer room; everyone’s too busy performing sajda before Stella McCartney, genuflecting before Gucci, and prostrating themselves at Prada. With Dubai, one recalls F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

The people are modern day Gatsbys, buying shirts that they will never wear and books they will never read. Like Fitzgerald’s roaring 20s America, Dubai is a moral failure a society obsessed with wealth and status. Everyone is trying to keep up with the Jones’ or the Javaids. You see the goras with their perma-tans, streaked highlights and their flabby cleavages.

The upwardly mobile South Asian man prances around wearing a silly shirt with a large picture of a polo player on a horse, whilst their women wear oversized sunglasses and carry oversized handbags. And the Arabs walk about with enough gold bling to blind you at ten paces. But not everything that glitters is gold. And Dubai is not only morally bankrupt it is also financially bankrupt.

Lately, Dubai, and its ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum have been compared to another piece of literature — Percy Shelley’s famous poem Ozymandias, which illustrates the inevitable decline of all leaders and the empires they build. Shelley finishes it thus: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains.

Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away With $80b of debt and a stock and property market that has tanked, the comparisons with Ozymandias are apt. Abu Dhabi may have bailed them out but can Dubai survive as a regional hub in the long-term? Or will this city of hubris built on sand and folly sink back into the dunes a desert mirage that evaporates once the public relations people, the speculators and the tourists disappear?

So for all you naysayers that bemoan Pakistan and its numerous problems please temper your pessimism. Take time to celebrate our cultural, religious, linguistic plurality and richness. Stop the cynicism coursing through your corroded veins. For all its inadequacies, at least we have a democracy.

For all its irresponsibility, at least we have a robust media. For all the police corruption, at least we are not a police state. For all our littering, at least we have paper wallahs. Remind yourself that at least we have a heart. At least we have a soul. At least we are not Dubai.

Read Conor Purcel’s rebuttal, “At least we are Dubai”.

Reader Comments (356)

  • Apr 21, 2010 - 3:19AM

    Thumbs up! Our love affair with Dubai and the wider middle east is based on a mirage. The Middle East is where the glaring inequalities of South Asian societies is magnified and intensified. Its ironic that Dubai is second home to most of our political rulers who have no qualms encouraging migrant workers to set off to the “greener pastures” of construction sites and menial jobs across the region. The abhorred conditions that these people, our fellow citizens have to face is shameful. Instead, we idolize Dubai as an ideal state, pre-wedding shopping or post exam holiday making its where our mobile elites play petty fashionistas. The sorry state of migrant workers is well documented. The Dubai authorities do not allow journalists unfettered access to the labour camps. Their passports are seized, 400 workers share one toilet, over 15 human beings live in one room. Many are today stranded as the companies they worked for folded, there legal documents gone with them.

    Rightly, Dubai has imported the worst of Western society and built it with the hands of exploited migrant workers. Recommend

  • dr_aur_billah
    Apr 21, 2010 - 4:08AM

    haha nicely put, Mr Fulton, particularly good spot of the recent desi obsession with the ‘barra ghora’ polo-shirt (not to be confused with the chotay ghorri wali polo shirt). though i have to say, dubai reminds one most of grass’ tin drum :)Recommend

  • Apr 21, 2010 - 5:16AM


    generally well said but here i will take a minor exception:

    > For all its irresponsibility, at least
    > we have a robust media. **For all the
    > police corruption, at least we are not
    > a police state.** For all our littering,
    > at least we have paper wallahs. Remind
    > yourself that at least we have a
    > heart. At least we have a soul. At
    > least we are not Dubai.

    in some instances we are worse…Recommend

  • Apr 21, 2010 - 6:53AM


  • Yousuf
    Apr 21, 2010 - 8:12AM

    George, thanks for the uplift, but the lack of response indicates the level of corrosive cynicism blocking our arteries. We want money here. We want stuff now. And Dubai promises that in an instant gulp.

    And the capitalist indoctrination one and a half generations have gone through for the last thirty years, spew the minimalist interest in democracy of our English speaking class in updated neo-conservatives like Imran Khan, Zaid Hamid and the entire Nation editorial line up. Recommend

  • Mohd Jawed Khan
    Apr 21, 2010 - 9:04AM

    You described Dubai very well. It’s very good article. However, I strongly believe that Dubai will recover from its financial crisis but it will take at least another 10 years.

    I would suggest to write on current Pakistani Legal and Criminal justice systems.

    Keep up with your good workRecommend

  • Haider
    Apr 21, 2010 - 11:26AM

    George, very well written analyses of Du-bai. I visited it the first time recently and felt that it was a soulless city. My favorite part of the piece was “South Asian man prances around wearing a silly shirt with a large picture of a polo player on a horse, whilst their women wear oversized sunglasses and carry oversized handbags”. Well said haha. . Recommend

  • Ali Zain
    Apr 21, 2010 - 11:39AM

    Fantastic article I must say Mr. Fulton, though we have a security issues in Pakistan but still it is much much better than Dubai, where we are living a fast life. Its a Muslim city where all non muslim things / food are allowed. People do not have the respect of their cultural and moral responsibilities everyone is busy in their own lives. Recommend

  • Maryam
    Apr 21, 2010 - 12:25PM

    Boohoo! Dubai celebrates capitalism/consumerism? What’s so wrong with that? Are you saying that you prefer Zainab Market tees over the ones available at some of the more upscale places in Karachi (or even abroad for that matter)? Please don’t be such a hypocrite. We need to get off our high horses and admit that we love money. And things. And other such things. Really, we’re not any better.Recommend

  • Apr 21, 2010 - 12:32PM

    A Terrible reality which we have to acceptRecommend

  • Zeeshan arshad
    Apr 21, 2010 - 12:37PM


    As a journalist your job is to provide unbiased information, yet you provide your readers of a cheap view to satisfy your own short comings.

    Anyway, i have lived here for 28 years and i can tell you that Dubai is a very new, trendy and vibrant city where one can explore life and concentrate on really becoming a good person, simply because his odds of seeing a new day are much higher than in karachi, where the odds of coming home in a body bag are far higher!

    You talk about us being a police state. Well in our police state, when we lodge a complain, we get justice. THe very people who are supposed to protect us are not harassing us. We are safer, more secure because of this police state. Women are able to go out at any time of day alone without being harassed. There is law and order and a general sense of a safe environment. Our kids are not being kidnapped and our houses not looted in broad daylight!! You talk about police corruption being somehow better than a police state, boy you probably never got your ass whipped by the pakistan police for no reason yet!

    You talk about Dubai lacking a soul. What does that even mean when you compare it to the people in pakistan. We do not have a soul you say, well people in your city dont have a conscience! People move around in your town like zombies each one trying to out to the other by means legal or illegal. It is a no holds barred environment where only the strong survive on the carcasses of the poor. Child labor, prostitution, drugs is everywhere! I do not know where to start my speech on how people in your town are machines set to engage and destroy, rather than share and compromise!

    You talk about Dubai’s love for money and spending habits of its people. Bro, they earn it, its theirs to decide what to do with it! FYI, Dubai has both the worlds in one city. You wanna live like a rockstar, go ahead. You wanna live humbly, that too is available. I think you should have walked out of your prepaid five star hotel in Dubai Marina and taken a ride down to Deira, Hor al anz, Hamriya, , Qusais, etc, etc, and seen for yourself that is possible to live a modest and humble life in Dubai too! But you were probably too busy checking out “flabby cleavages” in the comfort of an air conditioned mall sipping your american coffee to be bothered to take a taxi and walk around those neighborhoods!

    FYI, i am a pakistani too! Before you go about blasting my city that has given me and a million more everything that we have today, take a deep look at what you are comparing us tol! We do not write articles about your town so you back off our turf! Dubai does not need you or your money. Do us a favor and dont come here again, dont use our airlines, and please keep your articles to yourself!Recommend

  • George Fulton
    Apr 21, 2010 - 12:45PM

    Maryam, errr actually i do prefer Zainab Market T shirts when I can find some that fit!.

    Please also understand that i am not dissing money or people making money. We all have to make a living. But as society that only worships status and money is not a healthy or truly rich society in my opinion. In this respect, I think Dubai is unhealthy compared with Pakistan. Recommend

  • Sameer
    Apr 21, 2010 - 1:38PM

    Well written, but the brief comparative analysis falls somewhat flat when it comes to security related issues. Would i rather live in a city where the chances of me being robbed or killed are much higher compared to one that doesn’t appeal to my preference in aesthetics or intellect?
    And another thing, we are all hedonists one way or the other. The medium of pleasure changes from person to person, some might get off on a great conversation while someone else would feed their narcissism by collecting all sorts of lipsticks… finger pointing works from every angle but looks the same throughout.
    btw, i despise dxb :) Recommend

  • Fatima Ali Khan
    Apr 21, 2010 - 2:43PM

    Excellent insight for those who escape to Dubai as a fad nowadays!
    I thought its just me who felt dis abt da over hyped city!
    Hats off George! but probably few would really care to know abt dis disney land..theyre too busy oogling at designer shops there!Recommend

  • Amber Darr
    Apr 21, 2010 - 3:00PM

    Brilliant. Thank you for saying which some of us feel so strongly! Recommend

  • Maida Sabzwari
    Apr 21, 2010 - 3:03PM

    You makes some valid points – yes we are a consumer driven society, there is racism and everything looks OTT & audacious. But you’ve focused so much on the peripheral, and made SO many SWEEPING judgements, it’s hard to take your analysis of the city seriously. In particular, I was surprised by the following statements:

    ”Slack jawed zombies roam around consuming food, clothes and electronics in a desperate attempt to fill the emptiness of their existence.” – so people who are there to shop & eat & hang out with family are trying to fill their empty existence? Very easy to paint us all with one brush.

    ”Whilst at the Mall of the Emirates the azan goes off. Nobody appears to move to the prayer room” – judgemental much Mr Fulton?? Or does this sentence just tie in well with your idea that we lead an empty existence?

    “The people are modern day Gatsbys, buying shirts & books they will never read” – And you know this how???

    I’m sorry but your analysis of the city is as shallow as you claim Dubai to be. You may diss the city, the lack of culture, the hedonism but you must realise that the people of any city are not all the same. Now excuse me, while I get back to working hard so I can shop at mall of the emirates and buy clothes I will wear & books I will read.Recommend

  • Umer Zubair Awan
    Apr 21, 2010 - 3:36PM

    Good piece Dear George Fulton.
    Karachi too have such oasis for upper class .
    The people from Bhains colony,machar colony or fakeer colony when visit other side of Clifton bridge feel same as you felt in Dubai . Recommend

  • kala shah kaku
    Apr 21, 2010 - 3:37PM

    @Zeeshan – is that a chip on your shoulder there? perhaps if years of dubai toil hadn’t drilled an fidgety inferiority complex into you, you’d see what the author was trying to say, rather that treating us to a tangential polemic..Recommend

  • Alizeh Haider
    Apr 21, 2010 - 3:50PM

    I have a big smile on my face as I finish reading your article! I have read several pieces bemoaning Dubai’s artificial composition, but never quite one like your’s. I can completely relate to what you felt when you were here. Yes, this place is completely soul-less…and also completely detached from reality. One only hears of people winning lotteries and buying expensive cars. Human suffering is meticulously covered up under the seamless wraps of a tightly controlled media.

    The other day I asked a friend here: Do you think there will come a time when they will grow out of the ‘bling’? Flashy cars and gold everything will be looked down upon as nouveu riche- and modest and minimilistic will be classy?. She gave it a moments thought and replied very correctly “No. This is all that they have”.

    Well done on your piece! Keep writing!Recommend

  • Apr 21, 2010 - 3:56PM

    True. I never like Dubai for its superficial progress. I always knew that it would collapse one day. A tent cannot stand without pillars and Dubai never had any.Recommend

  • Fayyaz Alam
    Apr 21, 2010 - 5:16PM

    Thank you George for opening our eyes which are always following gold. Money is a big reality but then Dubai is not doing well even in that. So why follow Dubai – a failed model – and why not devise our own model for success!Recommend

  • Murtaza Mehboob
    Apr 21, 2010 - 5:21PM

    Dear George,

    With all due respect, you just pointed out all the bad qualities about Dubai as a city, without mentioning the good parts. I think it is concensus that the city was and is a phenonomenon for right and the wrong reasons respectively. However, I feel Dubai only lacks regulations/ laws to safe guard its population, and law making I is believe evitable as the years pass by. This will surely result in a stable, Dubai/ UAE, and many more people from the South-East Asia region will flock into the city. You talk about prostitution ! In my view, it all depends on the individual himself/ herself to act in the manner they want to. Please, correct me if i am wrong but Prostitution is common in Pakistan as well. Les Vegas ? not really !

    In my view this article is unhealthy for Pakistanis, as it is doing what we always do, we have always people down to our level and laughed at their misery. In short, we are not better then Dubai/ UAE. if we were it would be much obvious, that doesnt mean that I do not love Pakistan. I probe and critise because I care about my country.

    Murtaza Mehboob Recommend

  • Sajid
    Apr 21, 2010 - 6:42PM

    Nice One!! totally agree with the writer..Recommend

  • Huma Shah
    Apr 21, 2010 - 7:38PM

    Love the line!:
    “The upwardly mobile South Asian man prances around wearing a silly shirt with a large picture of a polo player on a horse, whilst their women wear oversized sunglasses and carry oversized handbags”.
    So true!
    Unfortunately, also we find them all over Pakistan too!Recommend

  • Sarah Shaikh
    Apr 21, 2010 - 8:17PM

    Hi Readers
    I escaped to Dubai for a long time to get away from soul less Pakistan. Agreed with the reality of it being plastic and over pumped. But I came back after the bust to be greeted by heavy Paki cleavages who are just killing for the latest lawn…are we any different? It’s just that in Dubai even a laborer can buy a Loius Vuitton cause he save AED 500 to send home. Easy to get sucked into opulence. Few can afford it in Paki. And we have too much cocaine, vodka and Russian men and women around Khi too! It’s a beautifully written piece minus the comparison to an underdeveloped metropolis. Recommend

  • Dr. Adnan Iqbal
    Apr 21, 2010 - 9:56PM

    Dear George

    Thanks for shedding light on High Dubai Life. Recently, I visited Dubai and I stayed in Rimal Rotana. After putting up in a room, I decided to take city tour. To my surprise, I found myself in a middle of valueless, clueless and artificial people around me. I literally pinched myself, when I saw couple of Pakistani girls speaking in urdu but wearing a dress (Which I am sure western gril would not like to wear). In my last 17 years, I have been living most of western parts of the world such as Australia, UK and Thailand but it was a reverse cultural shock to me. If we dont have electricity, financial crisis and political instability but I am happy we still have some moral values.


  • Hina Khawar
    Apr 21, 2010 - 11:16PM

    George thats unfair! Dubai has the best of both worlds and I love living here. Its child friendly, its safe, its got great beaches, parks, and yes malls too but best of all its less than 2 hours away from Pakistan!!!10 days is not enough to search for a soul in a city…you were obviously hanging out with the wrong crowd….come around next time you visit and I bet I can change your views! ;)Recommend

  • SalmanZ
    Apr 21, 2010 - 11:25PM

    @George! You are absolutely right! “Society that only worships status and money is not a healthy or truly rich society” very well said. Recommend

  • Waqas Hussain
    Apr 21, 2010 - 11:56PM

    George! Whatever you have written is very realistic. Dubai has imported a western culture. Their consumption is high, per capita GDP is high but it still cant be considered a rich society. They have money they can buy everything but not the education. What are they producing is all that attract people but the very basic necessity, education isn’t there. Some foreign chartered universities can’t set the pillars of a society. Recommend

  • Jehan Naseem
    Apr 22, 2010 - 12:14AM

    Very well written and I completely agree with the “outside looking in” perspective. Interesting how such a perspective probably has existed for a long time and has been overshadowed by the stereotyped media informants that are shared more effortlessly.Recommend

  • sarmadR
    Apr 22, 2010 - 12:31AM

    Mate….just brilliant!! i spent 5soul sucking days in dubai, tis the worst place for a vacation, nauseating materialism and empty people doing empty things tryin to find meaning in gucci bags, bravo!!

    And the ppl askin for nonbiased journalism-get a life! this is n opinion post, it serves georges urge to write as he pleases and gives us the chance of readin a heartfelt piece of awesomeness….we need more articles like these!Recommend

  • Zarrar
    Apr 22, 2010 - 12:31AM

    C’mon Zeeshan Arshad, you know everything George said is truth, although I will agree George’s tone was a little bit unkind and harsh. Recommend

  • Apr 22, 2010 - 12:40AM

    Dear George,

    Add me to your fan list!

    You write like most Pakistanis should, and you are a gorra! Your analogies are spot on and the longer we debate on this the better it feels to be living here in Karachi, Pakistan!

    Having been to Dubai several times in my life, I cannot imagine how life would be spent racing up and down Sh. Zayed Rd. everyday for work and party both!

    I try not to argue on this topic much-

    Next, compare Karachi to London! I was pleasantly surprised on a recent trip to see a muslim man praying on a pavement on a high street without any care in the world! It brought a smile to my face as the world passed him by without flinching.

    Keep up the good work!


  • Meekal Ahmed
    Apr 22, 2010 - 1:20AM

    Dubai was a mirage and a bubble that was bound to burst. And she did. Please don’t tell me about their high credit rating. It was given by the same rating agencies (those hotbeds of conflict of interest) that rated the sub-prime mortgages that felled the global economy AAA+. Recommend

  • Mansoor Ali
    Apr 22, 2010 - 1:32AM

    I fully agree George.Recommend

  • Imran
    Apr 22, 2010 - 1:41AM



  • SG
    Apr 22, 2010 - 1:48AM

    Absolutely brilliant! Also, I love the way you use ‘we, us and our’ whilst referring to Pakistan and Pakistanis :-)Recommend

  • Dr. Altaf ul Hassan
    Apr 22, 2010 - 2:12AM

    Pakistan ZINDABAD,George Fulton also ZINDABAD.Recommend

  • Sikandar Khattak
    Apr 22, 2010 - 2:25AM

    Hey George brilliant article. Quite a pleasure to read. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have only been to Dubai a few times and that too briefly but I got the same feeling as you got. There is something really artificial and fake about it. Cant put my finger on what it was exactly but I was happy to get out of there as soon as I could.
    I find some of the comments by our fellow Pakistanis hilarious. They are really defending Dubai with a lot of gusto. I agree Pakistan has a number of flaws but at least there is no official discrimination. A native of Dubai has far more rights than any other citizen. Then come the Goras. Pakistanis are wayyyyy down the pecking order there. They are treated like crap by the locals. I would like to hear their comments regarding the discrimination that they face.
    Anyways keep up the good work
    All the best!
    cheers Recommend

  • Imran Ahmad
    Apr 22, 2010 - 5:03AM

    lol i like zeeshan’s reply more !!!! both are TRUE tho !!!Recommend

  • Junaid Ahmed
    Apr 22, 2010 - 7:59AM

    I love you Jeorge…I want to see you again on AAJ tv or some other tv channels as host…Recommend

  • huma
    Apr 22, 2010 - 9:45AM

    Wow, you seem to have elicited some strong reactions..though to be fair i ve lived in both Dubai and Pakistan, & i agree with you, Pakistan in its package – the good, bad, and the ugly, is home and thats really where the heart is …
    Frankly we have enough reasons to feel good about ourselves, if nothing else than for the sheer resilience of our spirit that drives us to work and prosper despite the toughest of conditions.. so i guess we really dont need to draw any comparisons.. to each their own .. and to us our load sheddings .. at least we get to see the clear night sky above , away from the glitz and dazzle that at times may blind the sight..Recommend

  • Apr 22, 2010 - 9:48AM

    i agree partially.of course dubai is built upon consumerism.

    but there’s a herd mentality in effect here. all of these people blasting dubai wouldn’t have hesitated before taking off for the city and showing it off back in pakistan. it’s not as bad as fulton puts it. it’s bad, but it does have a soul and spirit of its own.

    you can only understand that when you live there. as pakistanis seeing pakistan getting blasted in the international media, haven’t you people realized that reports like this CAN’T be taken too seriously? this is exactly the kind of article that, say, the washington post might have published in 2004 in regards to karachi and its madrassas. both misrepresent the subject and both give people a convenient target.

    only those people who have lived in a place are justified to make judgements about it. period.Recommend

  • Wasif
    Apr 22, 2010 - 9:54AM

    Nicely said George!Recommend

  • Muhammad Ali
    Apr 22, 2010 - 10:12AM

    Nicely put… This exactly is the case but i had never thought about it that way… Thank you.Recommend

  • Mahwish Naseem
    Apr 22, 2010 - 10:24AM

    Mr.Fulton, indeed you chose to see that view of Dubai which could help you write a nice, sensational article.
    Perhaps, people like yourself who can afford to get away from the difficulties of life in Pakistan today, can afford to make such callous remarks. The average Pakistani i know, will give anything to have not just the bare essentials of “roti, kapra aur makaan” but also a sense of security and a future for their children. And that is what Dubai has been able to give people like me.

    I am obviously not going to get into a city bashing tirade here, for Karachi is as much my city as is Dubai. But for the negativities you pointed out about Dubai, perhaps you should have walked further into the city and seen men from Karachi, and all over Pakistan toil under the harsh sun & work crazy number of hours just so their families are able to survive in & breathe the polluted Karachi air. Ask them how many times they’ve been to Mall of the Emirates or eaten at the fancy food joints. Ask them if they were able to provide for their families in their homeland. Ask them how difficult & lonely life can be for them here and yet they wake up every morning grateful that the old parents, the wife & children are able to get 3 square meals – and for that they are grateful to be here in Dubai. This is also a reality of life – in Dubai.

    Our robust media, police corruption & littering are hardly matters to be proud of, let alone a guarantee of a life worth living. Food for thought!Recommend

  • moeed talal
    Apr 22, 2010 - 10:35AM

    Agree with georgeRecommend

  • Hussain Mandviwala
    Apr 22, 2010 - 10:36AM

    Good Job George, Kudos to your article. Atleast we have passion for our country if not the money. Atleast we have each other if not others. Atleast we know that our affairs are wrong, and not deny living in a life of bliss. You rock!Recommend

  • Rimmal Qureshi
    Apr 22, 2010 - 10:44AM

    I absolutely and totally agree with everything you have said My.Fullton. It is hard for anyone with a sane mind and an alive soul to stay in dubai for more than a couple of days at a stretch..and even those two days are enough to give one a psychological nausea over the positively vulgur display of wealth dripping from everyTHING and everyONE in that city.Its is nothing but a dwelling of illiterate, boorish,illmannerd,and uncouth nauvue riche nobodies,who have gone from donkey to Dodge and Camel to Cadillac in so little time that they failed to pick up civilisation inbetween!Recommend

  • Hiba Ahmad
    Apr 22, 2010 - 12:08PM

    I love the hilarious stereotypes!Recommend

  • Adnan Butt
    Apr 22, 2010 - 12:44PM

    I don’t know George. I kind of like it in Dubai.Recommend

  • Apr 22, 2010 - 12:45PM

    nicely said george ….
    its true. ther r so many who aremisguided & left therir home lands 4 glamours and they run after mudane, m not taking about only pakistan!!

  • Ayesha K
    Apr 22, 2010 - 1:04PM

    Seriously? This is a cute journalistic piece littered with some adhoc stereotypes to play to the local crowd, but it certainly has no basis in reality. Because reality, Mr. Fulton is not limited to fuzzy concepts as “lacking a soul”. For most people reality is based on some very real and gritty facts – income levels, growth rates, healthcare, education, social safety nets, stable institutions, accountability, rule of law. And on each and every one of them it is blindingly clear that Pakistan lags far (far) behind the UAE. Please feel free to verify this by checking exactly how many Dubai nationals are lining up to migrate to Pakistan (and vice versa). Recommend

  • Yousuf Ali Fatemi
    Apr 22, 2010 - 1:04PM

    This the bitter truth.. Some may believe some may not..
    But.. the people who think really about the simple way of living life and Islamism.. They Will understand definately.. Recommend

  • Asad Abbas
    Apr 22, 2010 - 1:28PM

    It was a great article to be read; believe me when i was reading it, the courage and enthusiasam of going back home (karachi) was rushing in my blood. But when i again thought on the subject i came to conclusion that your article where just a mere collection of good words in a right order but far away from reality.

    Also you cannot judge people of a city and its people by just visiting one place, furthermore the place which represents only the posh upper class citizens of that society. I personally have experienced that in UAE there are more people in the mosque (even in the morning prayer) than i have seen in karachi. (please dont count heads count the % of the muslim population)

    This subject of comparision is not good at all. Every place and culture has its own plus and minuses and its upto each individualto select which one he likes more or suits more to his way of living.

    Please write something more realistic and effective not something judgemental and even without doing full research on the subject.Recommend

  • Yousaf Iqbal
    Apr 22, 2010 - 1:30PM

    Dear George. Thank you so much for putting this out. It’s some thing that touch your soul and heart, because you are right that at least we have one. On the contraty, we need to build and enrich our cultral values, and we need to make our young proud of it. We as nation has a myopia of going abroad due to MONEY. Our nation has all the resource but the corrupt politicians does not allow any new one to flourish his business or activities. Thats the reason why people prefer to go outside Pakistan.

    But again thank you for unveiling the fake and short term lavish life of Duabi.Recommend

  • Munaar Alee Kapri
    Apr 22, 2010 - 1:40PM

    thanks Mr. Fulton for you clicking the refresh button for us and thats what we need at this point of time as we have started looking things from others perspective and your opinion wil change many.Recommend

  • Mega-smasher
    Apr 22, 2010 - 2:00PM

    My dear writer, you truly depict a vivid image of Dubai and it is definitely the haven for the glutenous and the coveting, but before you go parading how it’s so horrible in comparison with Karachi. But since it seems that while you comb your overcompensating beard and take a drag from the proverbial cigarette after the victorious verbal orgasm, and I want to congratulate you for having the ‘khuspas’ for slandering something that can’t fight back, I think I should remind you, that your precious democracy is a sham. We are, were and most probably will be dictated and will remain twirling on the hidden strings of our religious fanatic mullah regimes, our feudals, our thieving establishment, our agencies and our military that feeds on the morsels of the white and tan skinned masters of our master’s master.

    When the adds clearly boast “They Steal, We Pay” and the next day they find a pair of fat eggs stealing electricity, who pays then? who had an F.I.R written against them?.

    When our devoted leaders end up owning property worth billions all across the globe and their own people can’t afford clean water.

    When those who swore to protect and serve decided to get up and start raping defenseless girls.

    When those who took the Hippocratic oath decided that a little girl’s life wasn’t worth wasting the nap over, or beating up a group of reporters is the best option if doing the job properly was the other choice.

    when the all mighty media that you so hail decides that people dying in the country isn’t news, and chose to turn a meager sports wedding into a bigger phenomenon than the red mosque fiasco.

    When the upholders of morals and all that is righteous decide to whore out religion so they can gas up the cruiser. They justify the multitude of innocent people dying everyday. They support it. And they try to instill fear and false garbage into the empty head just to get an another follower who they’ll eventually suck dry.

    And once again, Democracy? My dear it isn’t a democracy when the parties have a “if you don’t vote, you die” policy with their followers. maybe 2-5% of the nation votes based on actual performance, the rest of the votes depend on which feudal scared and maimed and lied to the most people into following him.

    So yes, Dubai is morally bankrupt and all that, but at least their moral bankruptcy doesn’t lead to people dying.

    So call me what you will, but i’ll take the safer moral bankruptcy, the gluttony and the pimped out arabs over fearing for my or my family’s life everytime we leave the house, and I would take the soulless plastic city over the starving children dying from a cough while our saviours and “rakhwale” sit on their gold thrones and feed on their hams. And now they accuse our forefathers, the very person who made this country of being a heathen and eating a ham. Despite the aw-inspiring gratitude in that claim, i ask one thing, Does a person’s diet undo his efforts (to death might i remind you) to build a home for an ungrateful nation.

    So in comparison with a life in a country that’s mulled daily from every corner by a vast veriety of rabid dogs, yes goerge, a week in Dubai does seem like a damn good idea.Recommend

  • Saba Kamran
    Apr 22, 2010 - 2:00PM

    Brilliant article George. And it feels so great to see that you really take yourself as a Pakistani. :)Recommend

  • Amir Hamza
    Apr 22, 2010 - 2:40PM

    I don’t agree with the part about having paper wallahs and police and not being a police state – i don’t find them to be particularly justified incompetencies under any circumstances.

    But i am totally and absolutely glad we are not Dxb and we do have a soul. Recommend

  • Hasan Zaman
    Apr 22, 2010 - 2:58PM

    Well said! An accurate description of what Dubai really is! Its about time Dubai’s plasticity was shared publicly! The Arabs are not far from barbarians, sorry, but its the truth. The way they treat women, expats, anyone who has worth of self etc.Recommend

  • Muhammad Altamash
    Apr 22, 2010 - 3:21PM

    Well thought! its quite true that we have enrich culture, freedom of opinion (democracy)etc. The luring factor for Pakistanis might be their status obsessed or excessive consumption oriented lifestyle. Almost every Big Shot of Pakistan has property or investment in Dubai. One thing, that is not apprehensive to me is that why we undermine our very own resources. Specially, The City of Karachi, has all which a great cities of the world have, Why we still get pompous while boasting off our travel or living experiences in FINANCIALLY & TECHNOLOGICALLY developed countries. Why don’t we weigh our values which is far more developed than others, whether its WEST or Any artificially developed state of middle east. All we do is to hope and few good use of words but i wonder if we ever realize our very own potential.
    Apart from this , Nice thought, George! I would be obliged if you write your valued opinion on this issue.

  • Sabreena
    Apr 22, 2010 - 3:28PM

    Interesting article…seems to suggest that Pakistan is the anti-dubai. In theory it is, but the “elite” or well off in Pak seem to be equally obsessed and possessed with materialism, world over the people who are materialistic are borderless. So if inherently every Pakistani was down to earth, cultural and cultured, not pretentious, spiritual, balanced, etc. Then yes it would be awesome to not be “Dubai”…but knowing that Pakistanis are FAR from that, there are more similarities than differences in the realm of materialism. Here its abayas and dish dashas, there its shalwaar kameezes…the designer bags, shoes, glasses all adorn equally and without prejudice :-)Recommend

  • SS
    Apr 22, 2010 - 3:34PM

    FOr all the things you said there are a few glaring mis-conceptions.

    Yes we are not a police state but what about the family whose adlescent child got raped 5 years ago? what about the mother who is waiting for her ‘missing’ son to come home? are they or the perpetrators in dubai? possibly. are they being facilitated by your un-policed state? mostly.

    and what about the media. isnt there enough pessimism in this country already then for the media to say that we are a sinking ship? and what about your leading anchors who will sell their soul and morals for a whiff at the flappy cleavages and the polo shirt with the big horse? what about the hypcrites who create a hype and dont see the real trauma the country is in

    Yes there is no power, electricity or rule of lawin Pakistan. Maybe its not a bad thing. Maybe because we deserve it simply because the majority of our population is occupied with religion. We spend an average of 3 hours a day (by my estimates) praying in front of god for a better life but do we spend our time in working for it? no. we blame God, or we blame the government. or we compare ourselves to dubai, perhaps cynically, wishing for what we could have. Recommend

  • saniya
    Apr 22, 2010 - 4:44PM

    how does comparing pakistan to dubai make pakistan’s problems any less real?
    shouldnt we also be thankful we are not yemen? better yet, or why not compare ourselves to mali – then we REALLY have a lot going for us.

    people with GCC residency are allowed to travel freely between saudi, kuwait, qatar, oman, UAE & Bahrain. everyone, except pakistanis (as of two months ago). if you hold a pakistani passport, you have to apply for a visa.

    if you want to travel to tanzania, the visa fees are USD 50. unless you are pakistani. the you have to pay USD 200.
    no country in the world allows pakistanis visa on arrival, except maldives. (the maldivians dont stop anyone, they are nice like that)

    that’s the reality of paksitan today. that’s the perception the world has of us.

    and we want to sit here and be thankful we dont have bright lights and glitzy buildings and designer outlets and foreign debt…?
    but oh wait. we got foreign debt. LOADS of it.

    from what i recall, we have our very own red light districts, designer outlets (while people sleep on the streets) and we’ve got an elite that’s so disconnected from pakistan it’s heartbreaking (may i suggest a browse through GT).

    let’s work to get our house in order before we go pointing fingers at others. Recommend

  • muhammad adeel naeem
    Apr 22, 2010 - 5:09PM

    thanks george atleast u love pakistan, u dont know most of us are eager to move dubai. And we as nation must love our country.Recommend

  • Hasan
    Apr 22, 2010 - 5:10PM

    This article reminds me of Ozymandias too…where Shelley describes “the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.” I realize your piece may have been well intentioned. Of course it’s also a great political move to be so pro-Karachi while you’re staying here. Your “analysis” of Dubai’s consumer culture reveals much about your own psychological make up and perhaps what led you to a place like Pakistan — marginalized. I also believe that there are many complex factors and conditions which contribute to the health of a society. Mentally scoring points off people who are shopping instead of plotting and scheming and ruining lives is not among them, unless its done so for the purpose of satire or comedy. Which I guess your whole piece is. “At least we are not Dubai.” Hey I feel for you. Karachi is a rough town. I grew up there and I still think that. Still it is hard to understand the reason for writing such a piece besides abject boredom. The part where you actually judge people for shopping instead of going to the mosque is almost worthy of a column of its own. Really George? Shopping and commerce are not elevated levels of human activity that we all engage in, but bowing down to a magical deity with mysterious superpowers is? I feel like I’m tripping on acid just reading this. Recommend

  • Apr 22, 2010 - 6:03PM

    A terrible but true picture drawn.Recommend

  • Amna Ahsanuddin
    Apr 22, 2010 - 6:04PM

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article and wholeheartedly agreed with your analysis of Dubai. I do, however, think you may have romanticised Pakistan a bit. The ground realities there are disturbing…make no mistake: poverty, social injustice, lawlessness, corruption, racism, religious intolerance, sexism…we have bucketfuls of it. And all this only belittles the soul. Who has time for art and culture when they are worrying about putting the next meal on the table, worrying about being held up at gun point, worrying about being duped and robbed and then never getting any justice. Recommend

  • Mfaruqi
    Apr 22, 2010 - 6:15PM

    I just visited Dubai, and now I know what it feels like to live in an oppressive, colonial state. Horrible. You have it all spot on.Recommend

  • Doctor Moobi
    Apr 22, 2010 - 6:25PM

    very well said!

    Lived in Dubai for couple of months and figure out that living in Dubai has nothing to do with life in it, it is very well expressed with the fake fascinated socio-commercial gatherings and a crap-property talks all around with millions ahead of each other.

    A friend of mine came from Saudi – told me. a new Punjabi Nick Name of Dubai : that is called as : DUB BAE means ( Get Sunk Dude )

    very true and very much realistic as well.

    Dr MoobiRecommend

  • Umer Zubair Awan
    Apr 22, 2010 - 6:47PM

    George Ka PakistanRecommend

  • Shifa
    Apr 22, 2010 - 6:58PM

    Bravo! Bravo! This article reads like someone just took the thoughts whirling in my head and aticulated them oh-so-well! Bravo George! The article is a breath of fresh air! And it makes me homesick! :)Recommend

  • Murtaza
    Apr 22, 2010 - 7:03PM

    Well said. I know Karachi has its own eye brow raising problems, but at least no one tries to hide it. And yes people here are trying to make things better.Recommend

  • Sana
    Apr 22, 2010 - 7:08PM

    Well said. Of course, not everyone can and will agree w everything you have said, but it’s good to see some one writing a positive article about Pakistan, a country we all love and one that has so much to offer and desperately needs our belief and efforts. We have our task cut out for us and hopefully we will come to see a better, stronger, more competent and supported Pakistan.

    As for Dubai, totally plastic is how I have described it always. Hoping things improve there as well, esp as far as inequities and human rights are concerned. Recommend

  • Fahd Ali Zahid
    Apr 22, 2010 - 7:15PM

    Why does it take George to realise this yet we (the natives) are oblivious to all these good facts you pointed out.

    Is it a case of the grass is always greener on the other side or Einstein’s theory of how you cannot understand a frame of reference if you are in it.

    Or is it something else, something like lack of confidence, the feudal mindset always telling us you are weak no good or it our own lack of self appreciation or maybe even lack of Patriotism?

    What is that that has me and many of my fellows leaving Pakistan for a greener patch of grass!! Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Apr 22, 2010 - 7:31PM

    Thank you for writing this. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s interesting that this article would make as much sense if you were to pluck out ‘Dubai’ and replace it for the U.S.Recommend

  • Ali Q
    Apr 22, 2010 - 7:34PM

    There are many reasons I would rather live in Pakistan than Dubai. None of which you’ve listed above unfortunately.

    However, I truly appreciate the optimism :) Recommend

  • Yasmin Abbas
    Apr 22, 2010 - 7:43PM

    Thanks Mr. Fulton,
    For a very precise and analytical point of view, I think you have spoken for many like minded people.Recommend

  • Ucman
    Apr 22, 2010 - 7:56PM

    What we really need is the feeling that we can do anything and everything and we are not inferior than anyone just because they sit on oil and we don’t. Your article is excellent, though i think we need to learn a lot from these people because every good deed should be adopted no matter whoz behind it. Criticism and ruling out any positive suggestions is another favourite time pass of our society.
    Don’t get dishearted.
    Keep it up!Recommend

  • Waqas Agaria
    Apr 22, 2010 - 8:02PM

    So true.. so true. Nowadays, materialism is the call of the day. This article is the wave of fresh air in the society seem to be obsessed with plastic life. An eye-opener to the “wanna-be” type youth of Pakistan. A very well written article.Recommend

  • Ali Malik
    Apr 22, 2010 - 8:02PM

    Worth reading! I like, I like!Recommend

  • Aliya Shakil
    Apr 22, 2010 - 8:12PM

    Pl accept the reality ……….here in dubai people are not thinking of suicide because their childern are not having enough bread for dinner,or not even selling themseleves for mere few 1000 ruppes. pakistani police is every now n then in media for bruttaly torturing the prisnors …yes pakistan is a democratic country, but worse than any dictatorship.Illitracy,dying economy,lawlessness,poor infrastructure,you name it.i`m a pakistani too but i believe we should learn from our own mistakes and shortcommings rather than comparing our country with others for no reason and we must try to work hard for its prosperity and stability.Recommend

  • Aun
    Apr 22, 2010 - 9:09PM

    For all the lost souls……Whatever we do and wherever we live, we are and will always be Pakistanis! This country may have lots of bad things, but it is from us and we are from it.

    Our democracy may be bad but we are only truly free here. At the end of the day a stupid Arab or a Gora is above you in Dubai or in the UK or Canada. Remember that.

    And as for our history, lets be honest, it doesnt start with Muhammad-bin-Qasim. We made the first civilizations in Muhejodaro and Taxila. We made the first university in the world at Taxila and ruled all of the Indo-Pak from here. Mughals were from among us. We made this country in the face of opposition from everyone. And today, with all the world from the British and the Indians to the Russians and the Americans against us, we have not and will never will ceased to exist!

    That is who we are!!!Recommend

  • Khalid Babur
    Apr 22, 2010 - 9:12PM

    You know George is right ! recently went to Dubai and felt the same but never had appropriate words to explain it.
    I use to say , Dubai is an artificial world and a concrete flower.Recommend

  • fahad
    Apr 22, 2010 - 9:29PM

    I have been to dubai, but i have mostly lived in singapore.

    I do understand what you are generally pointing out in your article which is excessive consumerism with very little time to actually enjoy real soulful life.

    I just find life outside pakistan too hectic with little or no time left for anything else and the best it has to offer is a gigantic version of iphone in return.

    Good quality conversations are completely missing where you have the luxury of wasting away hours discussing stuff that wont really matter in the end. The kind of peer bonding which one sees in pakistan is absent here.

    People here can’t waste time, but only pakistani’s have that luxury and it sure is a luxury better than an iphone or any other gadget thats available on the market.

    As a kid i still remeber the time we used to enjoy during load sheddings. We had nothing yet we were so happy because we had peers and relatives and what not. Outside Pak we have everything but the quality of conversation and the luxury to waste time on such frivolties is gone.

    There are all sorts of people, and some would disagree with what i said.Recommend

  • fahad
    Apr 22, 2010 - 9:36PM

    @aliya shakil

    Japan and to some extent Singapore have really high suicide rates, I have seen people live happily with empty stomachs, but i have seen people kill themselves because of empty souls which is kind of even worse.

    And adversity has generally brought out the best in pakistan. I have seen the poorest come to the help of those who lost everything during the earthquake. We are considered by many international organisations to give the highest per capita alms in the world.

    I have seen old men and women (almost 80 years old) working in singapore because their children refused to take care of them and i see them everyday in their hundreds. A society whose chief purpose is to earn money is structurally very weak and when the tide of wealth goes out then we’ll see whose swimming naked.

    This actually puts me in a very confusing position since my chief aim there also is to earn money. Recommend

  • fahad
    Apr 22, 2010 - 9:40PM

    People have started to disrespect traditional systems which contain wisdom gathered over thousands of years and our very robust. We must be careful when adapting modern systems which generally only work when wealth is abundant, as history tells that after every boom there will be a bust hence we must also be prepared for adversity which could only be handled by a more traditional and robust society.Recommend

  • Sufia
    Apr 22, 2010 - 10:18PM

    George Fulton has excellently put most of my thoughts & feelings about dubai in words. One thing though, the same goes for the whole of UAE (all the 7 states), not just dubai. I always felt about dubai all of what’s stated in this article & more which is hard for me to put into words.

    dubai is a UAE is a soul-less country. Extremely artifical, materiliastic & superficial mindset. I lived there for almost 25 years before moving back to Pakistan in 2007 because despite the fact that I was born, brought up & was educated there; and despite thee fact that I grew up considering the country as my homeland (1st home), as soon as I entered the practical life, I soon realised from the ‘locals’ attitude towards me that I was still an ‘outsider’ for being a Pakistani expatriate.

    Although, I must say that while studying at school / college, I never felt that that was not my own country. The reason could be that the city did have a soul until the year 1995 or 1996. That was when we saw a huge influx of russian prostitutes who could easily be seen in abundance at the normal hang out spots in the country specifically dubai. I guess that has alot to do with the russians approaching the dubai leaders to allow their own immoral & unethical practices & beliefs in lieu of ‘promoting’ dubai in the world’s market just like Las Vegas or more popular cities in the world. The UAE leaders were ofcourse flattered by the offer & if they had morally & ethically better developed souls, they might have not allowed russians’ corrupt ways of livings in their country but they did not care about what they would be turning their land / people into. Now from 1995-96 onwards, what we have seen is a very fast rise of the ‘evil’ vibes & behaviours in the country.

    I am currently living in Pakistan & despite all the loadshedding, government’s corruption & unwillingness to provide the common man, security threats to my & my family’s lives, lesser number of shopping malls & luxury cars & whorehouses, I am still happy for being on a land that cannot tell me to “get lost” for being an ‘outsider’ & for being in a in a city of people with simplicity of hearts & souls.

    I know some people above do not agree with your article but then again for some people money & materialism has priority over everything including self respect & dignity.

    Live long George Fulton!Recommend

  • Muzz
    Apr 22, 2010 - 10:27PM

    Hey George, i was born and raised in karachi i moved to dubai later, i must say this was biased post, i would say this was your share of bad press against dubai like all the other brit journalists do all the time, there are always 2 sides of any society your post seemed like there is no other side! you mean every one is a brand zombie or sex worker? every one gets drunk and eat quarter pounder??

    as a pakistani we dont need any more of biased journalists trying to brain wash our population, we have some very famous ones we watch all the time on TVRecommend

  • Waqas
    Apr 22, 2010 - 11:11PM

    Mr Fulton,

    Kudos for stating such deep thoughts in such pleasing and plain manner that one keeps smiling while reading it. I hope masses do get read what you have written between the lines.

    God bless youRecommend

  • Ali Haider
    Apr 22, 2010 - 11:25PM

    At the end of the dark tunnel, there is “always” light. We can either keep crying about the darkness or feel good to see that light, even though it may seem far. The choice is ours.

    I like this article. There is optimism in it and we need a lot of it.Recommend

  • Amna
    Apr 22, 2010 - 11:37PM

    Mr. Fulton!

    This is great and love the depth.

    Regards, Amna.Recommend

  • Salman
    Apr 22, 2010 - 11:50PM


    Dubai disappointed you coz you over expected …..

    Pakistan is a “country” in every definition of the word….and Pakistan certainly Rocks……Dubai cannot survive if it even has 10% of Pakistan’s challenges…..

    Dubai in this world, is like a cafeteria in a university campus ….you go to cafeteria….eat…drink….party …… thats it…..

    A Dubai resident Recommend

  • Mohsin Abrar
    Apr 22, 2010 - 11:52PM

    Excellent use of words Mr. Writer, Pakistan has its own values and emotions that are necessary to live with shine, but life style holds its own position, as far as Dubai is concerned, they reach the height of life style forgetting their core values, and a nation requires core values as a pillar.Recommend

  • Salman Ahmed
    Apr 22, 2010 - 11:57PM

    I second every word that Zeeshan Arshad said excluding the last para where he got too offensive on George.
    Zeeshan bro take it easy on George.
    Also i do agree that the only two problem right now with Dubai is its debt and ‘identity crisis’

    just to mention, i am also pakistani from dubai.Recommend

  • Eeshma Qazi
    Apr 23, 2010 - 12:12AM

    Dear George,

    Thank you for a very well articulated article. It is true to a great extent that Dubai resembles a modern day Babylon, that it is a city of great extravagance and even greater excess, that its rich are closeted in palatial homes and oblivious of the poor migrant worker who slaves away from the very moment dawn breaks to the setting of the sun. Forget the rich; we of the revered middle classes don’t bat an eyelid at this grievous injustice, snuggled up in our centrally air-conditioned homes in front of our oversized TVs. I agree with you wholeheartedly that Pakistan, being our beloved homeland is very blessed and deserves richly our fond regard for it, so do its people and its food. Sadly though, i beg to differ with some of your assertions. It is only when one has the routine pleasure of walking on clean walkways that one can appreciate litter bans, only when one is in said Mall of the Emirates and the azaan occurs that one praises God for those people who had the forethought to include an air-conditioned prayer area for both men and women in their capitalistic vice, only when one can walk on the corniche, unperturbed, unmolested, with the knowledge that by God’s will one is for the most part safe and secure and only when one does not have to worry about competing with the latest fashions, in fear of committing an unforgivable social faux pas that one truly has cause for gratitude. It is this same city that comes alive in Ramadan with a buzz of religious fervour, when the roads around the mosques are chockerblocked at 2 in the morning and the air is resonant with the melodious voices of the God fearing and it is this same city that promotes at the same time innate cultural harmony without division into cast or creed. I am in complete accord with you that Dubai has many flaws but a corrupt, soulless democracy (another gift from the West) that is our lot serves us far worse than Dubai’s elitist rulers I promise you. Recommend

  • Caliph111
    Apr 23, 2010 - 12:22AM

    Your views regarding Dubai, are Im sorry to say, pathetic.
    You have laid accusations and insulted several people of different backgrounds, residing in Dubai, in your TEN DAY trip.
    I have lived in Dubai for over 24 years and what your are saying is very off – track.
    Let me clarify myself first,I am not Emarati, nor do I have any Arab blood in me.
    I was extremely shocked when you said “Whilst at the Mall of the Emirates the azan goes off. Nobody appears to move to the prayer room; everyone’s too busy performing sajda before Stella McCartney…..”.
    In my 24 years I have been to almost all the malls in Dubai several times, and have even worked 12 hour shifts in some of them, mall of the emirates included, and not ONCE did I find the prayer rooms empty, infact, most of the time 2-3 jamaats have to be held as there are so many people.
    Our leader, Shaikh Mohammed, has done countless favours upon people living in Dubai. The late Shaikh Zayed himself caused so many developments in Pakistan aswell.

    You also mentioned Russian hookers,
    I agree, Dubai still has many hookers, however the amount has cut down significantly, and the government does take measures in order for it to stop.

    Now lets compare Karachi and Dubai.
    Karachi also has many prostitutes.

    Dubai is far more multicultural than Pakistan, as people of many different nationalities co exist, however in Pakistan, MUSLIMS cannot get along with each other, SHIA-SUNNI violence still exists. The death of Maulana Azam Tariq Shaheed is a result of Sectarian violence .

    However, the HIGHLIGHT of your article, and my favorite line is “For all its inadequacies, at least we have a democracy.”
    You say you are a Democracy? Pakistan has been under martial law for most of its time, from Iskander Mirza, Gen.Yahya Khan,Gen. Ayub Khan to General Zia.
    Secondly, I pity the intelligence of EVERY PAKISTANI who says his country is a democracy, thus implying that ASIF ALI ZARDARI was ELECTED President. Great choice by voters.

    I can write alot more on why Dubai is better than Pakistan, but time does not permit me. if I see replies to this thread I shall post more comments.
    I would like to conclude by saying that I have no intention of offending ANYONE.
    I myself am a Muslim and am married to a Pakistani, I mean no offence to anyone.Recommend

  • fatima
    Apr 23, 2010 - 12:40AM

    absolutely spot on,now i know why i was never able to breathe in Dubai,it’s not the air conditioning in malls or the sheer ‘blingness’of the city,but the whole idea on which its based…more,more and some more.
    landing in pakistan in darkness and facing the chaos that ensues…i feel i can breathe again.Recommend

  • Rimmal Qureshi
    Apr 23, 2010 - 1:37AM

    In response to all those who are sighting security issues, corruption , economic crisi and the like as reasons for karachi or even Pakistan being not a fit place to live..and prefering the lesser evil of moral bankcruptcy, like the one found in Dubai….I would only like to say, that …In a war there is killings, and blood, and depression and all..but those who leave the war and run away are called DESERTERS! a shameful label if one has even a shred of honor!..similarly those who leave their country , and try to become americans or british or arabian etc( even though the real americans and british etc always consider them as outsiders, and “parasites”)…..they also fall in the same category! DESERTERS…

    i wonder why, the same Pakistanis who “toil under the harsh sun & work crazy number of hours just so their families are able to survive in & breathe the polluted Karachi air” cannot do the same hardwork in Pakistan and make an effort to eradicate the problems we, as a nation have? why? because its teh easier way out?…

    so how come someone,,,who deserted their homeland,,and selfishly chose the easy road, to fulfil just their own needs, can dare comment on the deteriorating condition of our socio-economic environment?..instead of munching out numbers and figures by the dozen about pakistans problems..why not use ur excellent skills FOR Pakistan?

    and lastly,for those who stress on considering reality instead of “emotions”….. this was an article not just about the vulgur consumerism in dubai was also about the pysche of the PEOPLE who live there..and being a basic factor of production, the PEOPLE of a state, and what they think and how they feel, plays a more REAL role in its economics and society and the over all setup ..than anything else..hence a soul-less nation = a soul-less state…and trust me ..THIS IS AS REAL AS IT GETS!Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Apr 23, 2010 - 1:40AM

    People who went to Dubai in late 70 were able to earn some money and live there for a considerable period of time.

    The Dubai of today is completely changed. Every thing seems to be artificial. Dubai has become a mixed plate of different nationalities where one get bore if he or she stays there more than a week.

    After the downfall in property market, there is hardly any one who is interested to buy properties in specific areas market by the Dubai Government.

    Property value has come down by 50% and the rents have also come down by almost 50%. Construction companies have already packed their bags and developers have cancelled almost all the high-rise building projects where were rolled blindly from one person to another.

    Foreign investors have lost millions of US Dollars as the money was coming in to Dubai from all the four corners of the world.

    But after the global economic crunch, the property prices have come down to earth where every property owner is a seller but there is no buyer.

    I doubt that in very near future Dubai is going to come up economically, as now Dubai is financially supported by another emirate of UAE, namely Abu Dhabi.

    The basic flaw in property investment was that against the investments made in Dubai property market, people were not offer citizenship and in lieu investors were assured for a long term visas, the duration of which was slashed down with the passage of time.

    Rules in Dubai change over night. One cannot be sure what new law Government may introduce next morning.

    It is no more a “Gold Plated Dubai”.Recommend

  • M Khan
    Apr 23, 2010 - 2:45AM

    George, thanks for the write up. Every now and then we need to feel good about our city and realise we aren’t as bad as everyone (including ourselves) think we are. Easier said than done, but as they say.. Its time to stop whining and doing something about it. Either way, I think Karachi is probably the nicest place to live in the subcontinent right now. Keep up the good work. Cheers.Recommend

  • K Sheikh
    Apr 23, 2010 - 3:08AM

    This article is pretty ludicrous, I mean, Dubai is pretty disgusting, but the comparison made is completely pointless. In many respects it was disturbing. It’s flippant, arrogant and George, you seem to be trying to impress some Aunties and Uncles here really, really hard.

    Also, what is up with the ‘Oh George, it makes me feel so good to see that you refer to yourself as a Pakistani’ comments …. What?Recommend

  • Hind Rashid
    Apr 23, 2010 - 3:37AM


    FYI : there is no PRADA store in Mall of the Emirates….get ur facts right buddy ! Recommend

  • KN
    Apr 23, 2010 - 3:58AM

    Hello Mr George..

    Well i have been living in Dubai for almost 28 years now. I am very much a pakistani too but all that u have mentioned in ur article just seems like as if Ur taking Ur anger out from the load shedding u have been suffering in karachi. Seriously if this place was as bad u wudnt have even survived here for like 10 days to go back and give the worst description about this place. Why analyze this place frm wat u happen to see in the malls or the hookers u saw roaming the streets. Why not appreciate the fact that all Wat the Sheikh’s of this country have been through and how they have worked to reach these heights of success today. well tough luck really that recession has hit them bad but really the spirits of getting back and re establishing themselves are still there. Dont judge women or men by the designer outfits they wear or as mentioned the over sized bags and glasses i mean how is all this interfering in anyones life living in Dubai or anywhere else. Its a matter of choice wat u wear wat u eat etc etc.. u cant judge ur opinions on things u happen to come across in certain malls.Apart from that all the time during your stay what was the worst experience u personally came across??? I mean did u get pulled over on the side for nothing or were u criticized for not havin a descent shirt on hmm lets say maybe the food that was served had some gold leftovers since the Bling* u saw was too much to handle!!Really i mean u come here stay for a while and u start feeling sorry for the people who happen to shop and enjoy the basic luxuries of life and u say we are wat Zombies and fill our empty souls blah blah … No Sir we are The People who work hard earn Legal money and than go out treating ourselves wid all the Goodiess we can so happen to afford and in fact very blessed to be in an environment where we have such diverse cultures each being respected for their own religion and belief..
    @All the people agreeing wid Mr Geroge how many times have u guys visted Dubai in the last few years?? And i u had and cudnt settle in really guys tough luck than coz if u all wud have the views would have been slightly more positive so stop agreeing blindly on what you read and see thats why we have all the wrong people in our so called Democratic country coz we just believe in any garbage we are told.I love PAKISTAN and I love Dubai!! Now this is what I call Loyalty! Recommend

  • Cremated Wolf
    Apr 23, 2010 - 5:07AM

    Dear All,

    Are we any different from Dubai? The Shaukat years of being a periphary capitalist country, living the Capitalist dream. Free acces to unlimited creditand consumer items. Cars and cell phones. Time when our president equated economic growth with the reach and number of cell phones.

    elestricity, the problem we live, was and is caused by the consumerism of air conditioners. High prices of gas through the bank finance of cars. Inflation through the consumer culture of glut.

    Guess we are living the life of Doestoevsky’s “noted from the Underground”: we keep denying what we are to be what we are. Stop with this comparison please.

    And democracy, the biggest sham has finally taken us in its embrace. Guess we are the lost children who forgot to read Arundhati Roy on contemporary forms of democracy.Recommend

  • Zubair Ahmed
    Apr 23, 2010 - 5:59AM

    Some generalizations here and there, but overall a very good piece of analysis George.

    Some people do have a valid point though. You should have gone down the suburbs and seen the poor South Asian workers and other lower class people scrambling for some dirhams to send home. Its these people at the base of the new consumer and capitalist lover Dubai. People like these toil in desert heat to earn 3000 a month while the elite buy clothes worth more than 3000 each weekend at the malls. Dubai helps them survive you say? Sure. It keeps them in their poverty while the Bourgeoisie of the city enjoy their value-less commodity loving life, living off the labor of these poor.
    Those who think it has the best of both the worlds, well the “best” is only reserved for those who are rich, certainly not for those who toil in labor and provide the very basis of the new Dubai.

    George, you should have told the people these contradictions of the capitalist heaven called Dubai too.

    Excellent Work. Recommend

  • Urooj Shafi
    Apr 23, 2010 - 6:53AM

    Has no body ever realized that Dubai is a cosmopolitan hub, you take what you can and move to some where better. If people love their country, culture, heritage and religion so much then they should stick to it. There is nothing shallow or empty, you learn and achieve allot. It depends on you.
    Karachi, Lahore etc “Pakistan” is a lost country driven by greed and uneducated government/people. Our youth, bloody hell they follow the west .What about education! How many Pakistanies are literate?..How many of the pakistanies actually make a difference to the society or the country is the fact that needs to be addressed.
    Its easy commenting , writing an article and being opinionative but what have YOU done as an individual to actually change your surroundings?…..You seem to be busy coming down to Dubai you say? to judge the life style here….for your escape?
    Do remember Dubai now is a multicultural country. The country is still young and developing they will learn form their mistakes. But hats off that they take care of their own. What does Pakistan do for me!!??? Nothing thats why my family moved here. I’m sick of hearing “Oh Pakistan has so much spirit”. Cause if it did Pakistanies would be investing in Pakistan and making a difference.
    Dubai offers opportunities one just needs to grab them and make the most. What does Pakistan offer? Better yet what does Pakistan offer and to whom? Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2010 - 9:54AM

    “It has imported all the worst aspects of western culture (excessive consumption, environmental defilement) without importing any of its benefits (democracy, art)”. Thank God they have not imported UK-USA brand of democracy and culture, where according to former Senator Mr. Solar, “USA constitution has No extra teritorial application”.
    Let us wait and see, when Western democracy opens the valves of rising economic and openness baloon of UAE.Recommend

  • Tania van Hoof (expat)
    Apr 23, 2010 - 9:59AM

    Dear George,
    Thanks for sharing your insights with the rest of the world! In a way I agree with you about the glitz & the glamour… and all that glitter is not gold…
    We have been living in Dubai for almost 17 months now, as for the first six month I hated every minute being here. As time went by, we have learnt who our real friends are, discovered places to visit other then the malls and the fancy restaurants! Going for walk any time of the day or night is pure bliss, not worrying that you will get hi-jacked in your car or a gun pointed at your head as back home in South Africa.
    The city is clean, the city is safe and there are still places that has kept it’s culture!
    2 weeks or 20 days does not do you justice to hammer Dubai the way you do.
    But we all are entitled to have our own views… right?
    Come on over and stay for 6 months, your views will surely change!
    Dubai greetings!Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 23, 2010 - 10:03AM

    Dubai isn’t half as bad as Pakistan is, otherwise why would so many Pakistani’s come and work for us here in Dubai? All of you dissing Dubai, don’t ever come to Dubai. Stay in your Pakistan, England, Amreeka, India, Europe, in fact, those Pakis in Dubai – GTFO and go back to Pakistan, we don’t want you here.Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2010 - 10:07AM

    George, great article. I truly enjoyed reading it.

    I just hope and pray all of what you’ve written isn’t retribution due to the fact you didn’t get a job in Dubai. Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2010 - 10:19AM

    Dubai offers choices ;its up to people to make the choices.
    Police state it may be but it is safer than other places if one follows the law of the land.

    Some questions:
    Who manipulated the bubble bust in Dubai ?
    For every dollar coming in to Dubai, some other place /country lost out.

    Besides investors there were genuine buyers who wanted a SAFE second home.
    DUBAI will come ……. somedayRecommend

  • Apr 23, 2010 - 10:20AM

    George, you appointing out the some facts but don’t you think that every city has its own charisma. I don’t think Democracy as ideal. Arab rulers’ have already achieved a lot via authoritarianism then loss a few things. They are successfully in controlling law and order and other. Why do you forget that Dubai is a fun land, tour place and combination of alluring cultures? It is not permanent residential village. People from especially third world come to Dubai, would never be succeeded to make love constantly as nationalism does not allow in general. Whereas Pakistan and subcontinent, no doubt they are natural and sublime societies and you cannot compare with newly board artificial society. NOT.LahoreRecommend

  • Apr 23, 2010 - 10:20AM

    As above Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2010 - 10:25AM

    Dear Mr. Fulton,
    Everyone is entitled to their own view, but yours of Dubai is as shallow and superficial as the picture you paint.

    Clearly, you took no time whatsoever to open your eyes to aspects of Dubai other than those that supported your jaded opinion.

    Dubai is far from perfect. But, in my experience, no place is. I have visited Karachi, and while it has its own charm, it’s not a place I would choose to live. Although I can certainly understand that there are those such as yourself who might.

    Honestly, to compare Pakistan and Dubai is like comparing apples and oranges. There’s not much point to it.

    If you prefer to live there, fine. But please refrain from trashing a place of which you have such limited experience. It’s unbecoming of a journalist, and debases our shared profession, two of the tenets of which are balance and objectivity.

    Other than that, I would repeat everything I said a year ago in an open letter to The Independent’s Johann Hari; here:

    An Open Letter To Johann Hari Of The Independent (April 2009)

    Why Blame It On Dubai?
    Perfect Metaphor For The Love To Hate Dubai Debate

    You will find multiple related links at those above.


    Susan Macaulay,
    Canadian expatriate & long-time resident of the UAERecommend

  • Ahsan Rauf
    Apr 23, 2010 - 10:44AM

    Well a reality to be accepted for the partial Dubai area, the area where westerners reside and i totally agree. We live here and we know what pros and cons are there to live here but then i realized that you see what u want to see. Other thing is Pakistan is my country and i love it to death but i live here to earn and feed my dependents , so i don’t have much choice to take things rationally.

    This article is well done to lift up the morals of us Pakistanis by not disgracing our selves to the lowest but it also is demotivate factor you have highlighted for 8 lac Pakistanis who live and work here to run there homes. I guess you should have been a bit mature in putting all this together.Recommend

  • Saniya Farooq
    Apr 23, 2010 - 10:54AM

    I smell post modernism here. Like Esham beautifully pointed out, it’s only when you have food to eat and some cash in your pocket that you can think of whats good or bad with a road, a mall, a city. where there is neither a road, nor a mall nor a city – or if they are, they are burnt, bombed, littered, and the road is inaccessible thanks to the lightest drizzle – you know the comparison can simply not be made. if we have not had the decency to make prayer rooms in our malls, or keep our roads clean, if our civil engineers did not gobble up the development money and made aweful roads that have no water drain system, if we are in love with corruption more than with Dubai, and then if we dont have law and order in our country, no contract enforcement to give us promise in the first place that our hard labor(as much as we are willing to do in Dubai but not in Pakistan) will be paid off, then the problems of our country are sad in the full sense of the word. where a poor man has to sell his kidney to get medicines for his mother, and a middle class family gets burglars at home any day in karachi, any sane, normal person would opt for dubai any day of the year. the polluted air of khi or lahore is dear to me too, but only if i am alive, with a functioning nose in the first place to breath it.Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2010 - 11:13AM

    Yes, definately Dubai is a Sheeshey Ka Ghar (House Of Glass), which fascinating, attractive & beautiful. One must to see & look then admire & adore it & thats ALL. You must enquire to those people who have settled in Dubai for Livelihood purpose they would let you know that how could they survived & accomodated in Dubai with hardness & harshness.
    I am amazed to think about future of UAE because according to the report that poppulation of UAE is around nearly SIX Million but matter of thinking is that the actual and origin of UAE & Emirati people is less then ONE Million Only !!! And remaining FIVE Million is ALIEN.Recommend

  • Ali J
    Apr 23, 2010 - 11:45AM

    I have visited dubai, UK few times and currently live in the US and I must say George is 100% right in his analysis.. I won’t get into details, peopl who don’t want to come accept reality and talk just to satisfy their mental comfort or reinforce their fake ideals, will do that.. their hearts are closed and sealed and eyes bedazzaled by the consumerism. They are soaked in false bliss that they draw from ignorance…. George I for one agree with you. That’s a respectable article and you deserve a pat on your back, so give yourself one from me… Pakistan Zindabad. Recommend

  • Sarah
    Apr 23, 2010 - 12:02PM

    We all must learn to appreciate what we have. No wonder it always seems that grass is greener on the other side but when you start to walk on the greener pasture soon you will realize that its mere a delusional world.Recommend

  • Nadeem Ahmad Dogar
    Apr 23, 2010 - 12:13PM



  • Z ali
    Apr 23, 2010 - 12:28PM

    George Fulton ,

    Well nice comparison of Dubai and Pakistan.

    Well Pakistan is heaven on earth but unfortunatly we made it hell.
    Pakistan is the country which has four seasons, all kind of fruits and vegitable all the year, Mountains ful of jewels , Gold , Coal each and every thing but we dont have leader.

    Atleast we have social life and Joint famly which cant be seen hardly any where, we respect pur elders and parents and more.. values
    but we are “ALWAYS BUSY BUT DOING NOTHING”Recommend

  • Max Robinson
    Apr 23, 2010 - 12:41PM

    Dubai? Karachi? Pah! I’ll take Lahore before instead of these overrated cities any day of the week ;)Recommend

  • ayesha mahgul
    Apr 23, 2010 - 12:44PM

    thumbs upRecommend

  • Max Robinson
    Apr 23, 2010 - 12:47PM

    ‘before instead’….

    Clearly all this Western consumerism & lack of spirituality has destroyed my grammar :)Recommend

  • Anastasia
    Apr 23, 2010 - 1:12PM

    right, let’s see if my comments don’t “magically disappear” the second time

    Mr Fulton,

    Great job on joining the Dubai-bashing leagues! This piece is a perfect example of what responsible journalism isn’t. Your bias is very evident, as is your hatred towards Dubai. Irresponsible media is not a good thing. Lack of responsibility breeds lack of facts and thus the public does not get to be informed of the actual facts, so the media becomes nothing more than just fiction.

    We’re all entitled to our own opinions, certainly no place on Earth is perfect. UAE as a country has its problems, as does US, UK, Australia, Russia, Pakistan, India, South Africa and just about any country you care to name. Patriotism towards a country doesn’t mean you are blind to the imperfections of your own country and/or use the “well at least we’re not __” excuse.

    Dubai indeed has art, you just failed to do proper research and look into it deeper than a Post-It with your fan fiction ideas scribbled on. Paradise for gluttons to indulge in fast food, fast living, fast women? Is that what you, perhaps tried to do whilst in Dubai, but ended up spending AED3000 on the bottle of champaigne and had nothing left over for the fast living and the fast women? Further, can we see some factual proof of statements such as “The people are modern day Gatsbys, buying shirts that they will never wear and books they will never read.” ? I know plenty of people who buy shirts only later to wear them; equally I know a lot of people who buy books and actively read and discuss them.

    There’s a lot of reasons why a lot of expats chose Dubai as their second home. Dubai is a cultural hub of ideas, local Emirati, American, English, Australian, Canadian, Russian, Chinese, French, Swiss, Indian, Pakistani, Italian, Greek, and a host of other nationalities. Yes, Dubai isn’t perfect, no country in this world is. At least Pakistan isn’t Dubai, that’s right, if it were you’d have little loadshedding, no bombs and no local TV cynicism. And would that really be such a bad thing?


  • Apr 23, 2010 - 1:34PM


    You might not like the place you live in, with bombs going off right and left and the telly filled with political talk shows, but after all, there’s no place like home. Pakistan may have many flaws, agreed, but they’re all a part of the Pakistan I know and love, and I wouldn’t have my country any other way (of course, I wouldn’t mind bombs not going off right and left, but oh well).

    We desperately need more articles like this one to make ourselves realize how lucky we are to be living in a place like Pakistan.Recommend

  • Adnan Adil
    Apr 23, 2010 - 2:16PM

    I totally agree with the author. He has nicely articulated his views. When I saw the labour I Dubai, it reminded me of the slave labour that built pyramids. It is crime against humanity. Moreover, Dubai seems to be a big international flesh market where prostitutes from all over the world roam around hunting customers. There is nothing in the city but huge buildings, shopping centres and prostitutes. No culture, no social life.Recommend

  • Sabeen
    Apr 23, 2010 - 2:35PM

    You are too biased… human nature is universal… everyone loves money and the elite in Pakistan or the Gucci/Prada donning footballer’s wives in London are no different from the upwardly mobile South Asian men and women in Dubai. And lets not forget that although ‘Dubai’s stock and property market has tanked’ the phenomenon was global and it may take a good 5-10 years but dubai will recover from the recession too.Recommend

  • Zd
    Apr 23, 2010 - 2:55PM

    I agree to the most of the article you have written but there are some pinching realities that I as a Pakistani, a business man & a family guy go through in almost every aspect of my life in Pakistan. Now I love Pakistan in-spite of all the atrocities from a corrupt government to lack of having the basic necessities a citizen’s right towards his so called democratic government is. It is true in Pakistan that when a person like my self goes out for work is like going to a war not knowing if he will be able to make it back to his family in the evening. It is also true that when my daughter goes to school, the anxiety of going some thing wrong constantly resides in the back of my mind. We have no power & other necessities of life. Now democratic or not, safety, security & basic necessities of the citizens of Dubai are being provided by the so called non-democratic government. I believe we have souls at constant war with the on going brutality within our own system. Recommend

  • tipu truckanwala
    Apr 23, 2010 - 2:58PM

    I am very much agree with you but not on that “we have soul “ do you really think so, if we have so we never allow few people to play with like a football or allow them to treat us like jailbirdRecommend

  • Raheel
    Apr 23, 2010 - 2:58PM

    @Aisha K
    you talked about very real and gritty facts … here are some … Dubai has got nothing … no industry … no natural resources … no agriculture … no manpower … no pool of scientists … zero defense capabilities … it produces nothing … in the long run it can not survive … it depends on others for its existence … its not even a country … on the other hand Pakistan i… we have everything … we have got huge and i mean HUGE potential … Dubai has got none … yes Pakistan does lag behind currently thanks to the army of traitors we have amongst us … but wont for long … enough REAL and GRITTY FACTS … or you want some more?Recommend

  • Tina Qureshi
    Apr 23, 2010 - 3:04PM

    Well said – At least we are not Dubai, a city without a soul.
    WE have a soul….so what if it is evil down to its very core, and so what if it kills, rapes and tortures hundreds of good and innocent souls daily.
    WE have a soul….we love our Pakistan, it belongs to us, that is why we can be as corrupt as we like, and loot the country endlessly. That is also why we can we can treat 90% of our population as our slaves.
    At least we have a soul….and one day it will awaken from its evil nightmare…..Recommend

  • Farooq Arain
    Apr 23, 2010 - 3:07PM

    George! well explained facts and thank you, for valuing Pakistan, what we often forget to do. Recommend

  • M
    Apr 23, 2010 - 3:07PM

    We shouldn’t have to attack and say bad things about another country to feel better about ourselves… I’d like to think that we are bigger than that…Recommend

  • Vernon D' Cruz
    Apr 23, 2010 - 3:36PM

    George George – where do I begin!

    You came to Dubai on an Emirates flight and not a PIA one
    This is your 4th trip to Dubai in less than 3 years. There is definitely something that makes you keep wanting to come back
    I was with you in the mall when the azan went off. Dubai has dedicated prayer rooms in the malls where people pray. I could have taken you ther if you wished. You also have to factor that Dubai has a 90% expat population and MOE is primarily filled with Westerners who aren’t muslim so hence would not go praying when tha azan goes off
    Prostitution, alcohol etc are prevalent everywhere – look at Khi and Lhr as just one example
    Dude it’s not just people from the sub continent that dress up here – we just choose to judge people from our part of the world. They earned their wages – let them spend it as they wish
    The city of Dubai was built by people from Pakistan. This city provides them with an opportunity of providing for their families back home. They transfer close to $175million back home annually. They provide, food, shelter and education – something that the Government of Pakistan has been promising to provide them for the past 60 years.
    Dubai is safe. Kids can go to school without the fear of being bombed or kidnapped, you can drive your car without the fear of getting robbed at a signal, woman can walk and drive without the fear of being harassed, kids can play in the parks and streets
    Moreover Dubai is a city that respects all religions and all nationalities
    In regards to spending excessive amounts on alcohol or designer wear clothes and I speak of Khi when I say this. Just visit any of the cafes in Zamzama where you are allowed to consume your own alcohol or the various so-called charity balls which is the ‘place to be seen’ with each table flaunting their Johnny Walker Blue Label Bottles as a statement
    Don’t get me wrong. Being from Pakistan I love Pakistan. But it does break my heart to see how the city has deterioated each time I visit it. Dubai has made something out of a desert. If only Pakistan could learn from it we would be miles ahead
    And so what if Abu Dhabi bails out Dunai. It is one country at the end of the day. Do we compare Khi versus Lahore or New York versus California when it comes to their economy?
    Dubai may be in financial difficulty due to the recession – but they will bounce out of it as they have planned for the future. It’s just a matter of time. Pakistan is in financial difficulty due to corrupt politicians who have filled their own pockets
    And lastly culture. With a 90% expat population you would not see any particularly in the area where you were living which is dominated by westerners. Abu Dhabi is the cultural capital of the UAE, just like Lahore is of Pakistan – you talk about Dubai being fake and lacking culture – what culture does Khi have (and mind you I say this being a person who loves Khi to death)
    Pakistan cricket would be dead right now if it weren’t for the UAE. Thing of the 170 million entertainment starved people that there would be
    I could go on and on! However, hope I’ve made my point – let’s not judge. Let’s learn from others and focus on taking Pakistan forward

  • Farhan
    Apr 23, 2010 - 4:38PM

    Brilliant, its a one go column with penetrating words ….. its wonderful simply!Recommend

  • Farhan
    Apr 23, 2010 - 4:46PM

    but i do agree with Vernon D’ Cruz….. he has also given the true facts. As out of that society we can see the whole picture from here very clearly. Recommend

  • Caliph111
    Apr 23, 2010 - 5:50PM

    “I think Karachi is probably the nicest place to live in the subcontinent right now”
    M Khan is obviously not in his senses when he says that.
    A mans primary concern is SAFETY!
    In Dubai and India people can walk the streets alone at night and still feel safe, I know Pakistanis who are born and raised in Karachi who say that it is not safe.
    All Pakistanis who say Karachi better/safer than dubai are delusional.
    Pakistan HAS THE POTENTIAL to be a great nation and KARACHI has the potential to be another major city, just like Bombay or Delhi, or even Shanghai for that matter, but right now, IT IS NOT>
    Do not try to fool yourselves as well as readers who are unaware of the reality in Pakistan. DO not pretend your in lala land when Zardari is on top of your head.
    Pakistan COULD do alot of great things, but it HASNT done any yet. A pakistani is in no place to criticize Dubai or India. People in glass house should not throw stones at others.Recommend

  • Caliph111
    Apr 23, 2010 - 6:01PM

    You just defeated yourself in an argument.
    Dubai – Zero
    Karachi _ Huge Potential

    Dubai – Great Place, safe to live in, no doubt it is affected by the recession, but it is coming up slowly. We have a leader who loves us and takes care of us. Although we don’t have nukes, scientists etc etc we have still made a better name than Karachi, in terms of standard of living,safety as well as business.

    So if your contry/city is that great, WHY ARE YOU STILL THE WAY YOU ARE ?

    Being patriotic is a good thing, however baseless Patriotism, I find very annoying.
    If your from New York, yes you can be proud of what you have in the city because it IS a great city, often referred to as the best city in the world, because it has such things in it. PAKISTAN has nothing, so why are you so patriotic?
    Does your economy has a 100000 billion dollar surplus?
    Or that your President is often referred to as Mr.10% and has allegations of the murder of Bhutto?
    Or that your city is so safe that a single woman can walk the streets without being shot,robbed or raped at night?
    Or is it because your cops are so honest and bribe-free?

    Please, think before you speak.Recommend

  • Mohammed Saeed
    Apr 23, 2010 - 6:05PM

    What Dubai has achieved in last 60 years is worth being proud of.
    A city of 20,000 in 1954 have done many things right…

    As of 2007, Dubai was the 8th most visited city of the world.

    A City Mayors survey rated Dubai as 44th among the world’s best financial cities, while another report by City Mayors indicated that Dubai was the world’s 33rd richest city, in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). Dubai is also an international financial centre and has been ranked 37th within the top 50 global financial cities as surveyed by the MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index (2007), and 1st within the Middle East.

    Dubai is home to over 200 nationalities and provides safety and security to all… lets learn from Dubai and than try to achieve 10% of what they have… in the next 60 years.

    We first need Roti, Kapra and Makan + Electricity + Security + Education + Clean water ++++++ than democracy!

    Dubai, we love you! and we will learn from you! to provide all you have to your citizens and residents!

    God bless Dubai!Recommend

  • Mohsin Ansari MD
    Apr 23, 2010 - 7:14PM

    Exactly what I have felt over so many years when I visited Dubai.
    just two things missing in this article which stands out most to me in Dubai.
    1) the injust system The rulers commit the biggest crimes, face no consequences, while poor people get the most brutal treatment. Remember the recent case in USA media about a royal family miniter torturing one of his partner the most brutal way possible.

    2) The most unequal distribution of money. I personally saw hundreds of common workers sleeping on streets every day in Dubai, while I also witnessed the only 7 star hotel in Dubai with no rooms avaialble to stay bz of being sold out!!Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2010 - 8:15PM

    Excellent article Indeed.. and I totally agree that We should appreciate what we have got instead of taking everything for granted! The most important things in life are not things :)
    I have been to Dubai too and couldn’t agree more with you!Recommend

  • Kulsoom Omar
    Apr 23, 2010 - 9:01PM

    Thank you Mr. Fulton!

    Spot on piece. Dismal place. Disneyland is thumbs up in comparison – if that isn’t pitiful then what is? Recommend

  • absurd
    Apr 23, 2010 - 9:03PM

    Karachi is better than Dubai? What does Daniel Pearl have to say about that? Oh right, he had his head cut off. He can’t speak for himself. Speaking of Jews, how does Pakistan treat its religious minorities? Its women? And why is it this George Fulton’s business that people aren’t rushing off to the mosque following the call to prayer? Please stay in Pakistan George Fulton, and good luck with all the violence, illiteracy, paranoia and martial law there.Recommend

  • Sana
    Apr 23, 2010 - 9:39PM

    Thank You, Thank You…..I am glad to know that there are people who think the same of Dubai…Recommend

  • Hassaan Touheed
    Apr 23, 2010 - 9:45PM

    Our dear George, I appreciate your observation and broadly agree with you. But at the same time, I’m worried about Pakistan. As hunger is the mother of all evils. When people are not fed and not clothed well, without a shelter, all sorts of crimes spring up. Then there is no place for art in the minds of these people and their souls are deads. I hope we don’t drown that deep and start to recover soon.Recommend

  • Nate
    Apr 23, 2010 - 11:08PM

    I lived in Dubai for 15 years and I agree with you. It has no soul. The way South Asians are treated there, the 250,000 laborers, is despicable. For a lot of people, this is where they earn their bread and butter, this is where they lead more comfortable lives than what their homelands can offer- and that is ok. But they ought to be aware of the human right violations, the tanking economy and the blatant racial discrimination – instead of becoming a part of the mindless accumulation of things that is Dubai. Recommend

  • Siddiqui
    Apr 23, 2010 - 11:38PM

    Do we really have to choose between Dubai and Karachi?

    Dubai is great because:
    1) it is one place that allows Arabs, south Asians, europeans etc without discrimination to work hard, maximize their potential and build up a fascinating economy in a desert.
    2) It offers personal security, tolerance and decent infrastructure.
    3) Its govt is efficient and not corrupt… probably the best of all other governments in Middle East and South Asia
    4) Pakistanis also have a share in Dubai’s success and hence should be proud of it…. from the pathans working in construction to the bankers in DIFC…

    Karachi or Pakistan is great because:
    1) Sheer ability to survive against all geoppolitical challenges of mammoth proportions.
    2) One of the richest and diverse cultures around… from food to clothing to language to literature to music…. Can Dubai claim to have produced a single talent that matches Faiz Ahmed Faiz or Junoon or Nusrat Fateh Ali? (Yet Dubai deserves credit for providing a market for Pakistani artists to explore and flourish in)
    3) Beautiful geographic landscape… from the Arabian sea to Cholistan desert to Karakoram ranges.
    4) Above all, hard working, warm and basically decent people… Recommend