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Fantastic Dubai

There are plenty of travel books and lusciously illustrated magazine articles about Dubai (and the other wonderful Emirates). But I can't find a reliable social and economic survey of the money-sotted and tiny principality. We all know the basics. And this important basic, in particular: about 80% of the inhabitants are foreigners, not foreign immigrants. Guest workers, and I suppose guest workers should do as they are told.

Well, these workers have very few rights, and the right to strike is not one of them. Still, as the FT reports this morning, 250 taxi drivers went on a five-hour work stoppage. Oh, yes: they were promptly deported. We know of other official debaucheries in the string of emirates; this is not an exception.

I know that the fashionable human rights supporters are deep into the Dalai Lhama's historical freedoms to be a clerical despot, and at the moment it is very chic to have China as a target. I do not disagree with this posture, though Tibetan Buddhism is, after all, a despotism.

Still, a new, if altogether artificial culture is developing in Araby. It is being supported by western industry and western finance, and its glories are dispatched to the western public by western journalists and western tourists. But what about the exported workers of Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Egypt, Yemen, Bangladesh?

Are there any Palestinian workers in Dubai? Are you mad?