Just deserts?


Just deserts?

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Dubai. Not looking good is it? In fact if I was one of those blokes who get paid a fortune to predict what is going to happen to the global economy I would be mumbling about the new toxic debt. Just a small matter of £45 odd billion you understand. Of course we all knew (with hindsight) that it was crazy to lend money to hillbillies in the southern part of the US and then act all surprised when they couldn’t meet their interest payments. But lending money to Oxbridge educated, hawk eyed sons of the desert was a different matter. They were too big to be allowed to fail. Just like a couple of those Wall Street banks. Now poor Dubai is begging for time to get its affairs in order and start meeting debt repayments. Unfortunately property prices are 50% off their highs and as a lot of money was lent at the top of the market that doesn’t bode too well. If the neighbouring states don’t bail them out then Dubai could be in a spot of bother.

I was invited on a freebie to Dubai years ago and turned it down. I don’t turn many freebies down, believe me, but I turned this one down because I knew I would be expected to write a gushing article about the place and I didn’t think that even I could have managed that. I would have been flown out down the sharp end, wined and dined, put up in an absurdly kitsch hotel and probably given a set of solid gold cutlery to take away as a souvenir but I declined because I just didn’t fancy visiting a fantasy land that had risen out of the desert in less than two decades. A fantasy land that’s aimed at the basest of human instincts at that. I like luxury, but what passes for luxury in a Dubai hotel is puke inducing. It’s so over the top that you would have to be a kugel deluxe to be impressed. Whatever history Dubai may have has been suppressed to build temples of mammon that we all say “Wow” to.

If I’d been writing an article for an engineering magazine then I would have had plenty to say. Dubai is, without doubt, one of the most ambitious building projects since King Herod’s day. The reclamation of land from the sea to create The Palms, an uber luxury set of homes, is quite phenomenal. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to live there. Not least because the Beckhams bought a place there. In fact, a lot of people bought a place there when it was being punted as the new big thing for the world’s super rich. The only problem is that most people only put down the deposit I suspect and won’t be rushing to pay the balance. There’s a good reason for this. Firstly there is now a glut of empty property in Dubai so your investment no longer looks so good. However, the real reason you wouldn’t want a permanent home in Dubai is that it is as hot as hell. Temperatures are frequently in the 40’s C and that means you can only live there if you have air conditioning. Too much air-con gives you a sore throat and makes you ill. And if that doesn’t put you off just look north. Across the Strait of Hormuz lives a bloke who might have a nuclear bomb that he is keen to use. No thanks.

I’d rather live next door to Julius Malema.

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