Why Dubai bashing is not clever

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By Rory Hyde\n\n\n\n\nThere are few things more satisfying than delighting in the misfortune of others. The sheer volume of articles dedicated to gleefully announcing the details of Dubai’s apparent decline would suggest the papers are having quite a party. But why should the foreign media have all the fun? Thankfully, these articles conform to a basic formula. Simply by following a few simple steps, you too can bathe in the smug, self-satisfying schadenfreude of the fly-in-fly-out reporter. (Getty Images)
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Step One: Title\n\n\n\n\nPick two or more words from the following list. Add the appropriate conjoiners, and voila, the perfect sensational headline.\n\n\n\n\nDubai, Crisis, Meltdown, Storm, Mirage, Fantasy, Dried-up, Blownaway, Reclaimed, Ecocide, Credit, Desert, Wonderland, Nowhere, Casualty, Dream, Over, Fake, Intoxicating, Vice, Kitsch, Party, Nightmare, Last Gasp, Frozen, Ghost, Blank-canvas, Fading, Crumbles, Spirals-down, Ruin, Neverland …\n\n\nExamples: ‘Meltdown in Wonderland’; ‘Last Gasp for the Kitsch Fantasy’; ‘Intoxicating nightmare finally over’. (Getty Images)
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Step Two: Image\n\n\n\n\nJust like the icons of booming Dubai – the outlandish skyscrapers and extreme wealth – the crisis has its own set of images that function as equally potent expressions of the moment. Select one or more from the following options:\n\n\n\n\nLuxury cars abandoned at the airport, ships waiting in the harbour, sand enveloping the city, static cranes on construction site, camp of foreign workers, fleeing expatriates, vacant reclaimed islands, empty malls. (Getty Images)
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Step Three: Opening Statement\n\n\n\n\nThis is a critical passage to establish the tone of the article. It should combine an understanding of the great heights Dubai once held, but be reined in by the current grim reality you’ve been able to witness (or at least suspect). Simply cross out words to complete the following sentence:\n\n\n\n\n‘Dubai was built from (credit / dreams / oil / sand)\n\n\nby (fierce tribal leaders / immigrant slaves / drunken expats)\n\n\nto be the most (expensive / lucrative / luxurious / audacious)\n\n\ncity on the planet. But now in the grip of the financial crisis\n\n\nDubai is finally (slipping back into the sea / being reclaimed\n\n\nby the desert / crumbling into dust / burying itself in debt).’ (Getty Images)
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Step four: Incredible statistic\n\n\n\n\nMaybe you stretched it a little with that opening line? Best to reassure your readers that this place is genuinely nuts; you’re not making it up. Select from the following stats to prove it:\n\n\n\n\na. Dubai derives 97% of its water from desalination.\n\n\nb. Only 6% of Dubai’s revenue comes from oil.\n\n\nc. Over $600 billion has been spent on construction.\n\n\nd. They have an indoor ski slope.\n\n\ne. They are reclaiming land in the shape of a palm. (Getty Images)
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Step Five: Outlandish Quote\n\n\n\n\nStats can only get you so far though. What about the man in the street? How has the reality changed for the people who live there? Just link two of the following snippets to craft your very own memorable quote:\n\n\n\n\n‘Dubai is what you get when ___ meets ___’\n\n\n\n\nArabian Nights, Disneyland, Dune, Las Vegas, Mars, Albert Speer, Colonel Sanders, Manhattan, Ancient Egypt, infinite wealth, Michael Graves, Atlantis, never-never, desert, cocaine, credit cards, Viktor Gruen, Santa Claus, Westworld, globalization, Blade Runner, Mickey Mouse, Hummers … (Getty Images)
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Step Six: Sources\n\n\n\n\nCan’t find a local economist, business leader or member of government to attribute your quote? Don’t despair, the more banal the source, the more ‘authentic’ it is:\n\n\n\n\nI obtained this extraordinary detail from …\n\n\n\n\na. my taxi driver.\n\n\nb. another guest in the hotel.\n\n\nc. the ‘Big Bus Tour’ audioguide.\n\n\nd. my sailing friend. (Getty Images)
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Step Seven: Conclusion\n\n\n\n\nThis is where you can really let your own voice come in. You’ve laid the groundwork with some hard-hitting reporting; now it’s time to look into your soul. Simply join up two halves of these sentences, be profound:\n\n\n\n\nThere is no history, everything is a mirage.\n\n\nThere is no grand plan, nothing grows here.\n\n\nIn this unbearable heat, the city is fake.\n\n\nUnder the gaze of the ruler, all will evaporate. (Getty Images)
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Extract from Al Manakh: Gulf Continued, edited by Rem Koolhaas and Todd Reisz (OMA), David Camara and Mitra Khoubrou (Pink Tank, Lilet Breddels and Arjen Oosterman (Archis/Volume) and Ole Bouman (Netherlands Architecture Institute. The book, a collection of interviews, travelogs, analyses and photography from the region, is sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council and is the follow up to Al Manakh. For more details visit www.almanakh.org (Getty Images)
Thu 13 May 2010 11:15 AM

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