Enough has been written about the Dubai bubble, how its crash was imminent, how it was a mirage and how its dream sank in a sea of debt. Yes, Sultan Mahtoum and his merry men did go overboard in building hotels and islands and resorts. However, it should not be forgotten that Dubai has been the only corner in the Arab world other than Lebanon which was willing to accept change and modernity. In Dubai, women can work and can even drive to work. Liquor is available to those who wanted it. There are churches and temples in Dubai as well as a private synagogue. Of course, this liberalism was allowed so that expats would make Dubai their home. Also, this permissiveness does not cover the thousands of unskilled construction workers and maid servants who are exploited as much as in any other dark corner of the world.
The point I am trying to make it that Dubai stood for change in more ways than one and not all of it was bad. Now that Dubai is having its nose rubbed in the desert sand, I wonder what price it will have to pay to be bailed out by big brother Abu Dhabi. Will it have to give up control over its crown jewels such as the Emirates? Will Abu Dhabi insist that the Dubai don a purdah once more and take away the rights they have now. I hope not, but Shakespeare’s explanation of how ‘the good is oft interred with the bones’ keeps ringing in my head.