THE SPINE OCTOBER 31, 2007
In my other postings on Dubai and its intimate neighbors, the other principalities of the United Arab Emirates, I focused on the inhuman treatment of the foreign workers "without whose brain and muscle" not a brick would be laid or a drink served. These foreigners are roughly 90% of the population. The New York Times had another take on Dubai. To its columnists, news reporters and the travel section, Dubai was a fantasy in sand, seven star hotels, the tallest building in the world, culture, yes, real culture imported like caviar, celebrities, even a ski slope.Now comes the grim truth...in an article in tomorrow's Times. Written by Thanassis Cambanis, the piece reports the tale of a "Victim of a Grim Crime, French Youth Takes on Dubai." The story is of a gang rape by three Emirati thugs of a 15 year-old visiting French boy, Alex. There are other specific tropes to the saga: the status of homosexuals and homosexuality in the U.A.E., H.I.V., the sheer violence of the paradise, the complicity of the legal authorities with criminals.And, of course, the effort to suppress the tale. Or, as Alex put it, "They tried to smother this story. Dubai, they say we build the highest towers, they have the best hotels. But all the news they hide it. They don't want the world to know that Dubai still lives in the Middle Ages."