Too many people focus on what the emirate is not, rather than what it is.
I fail to understand the glee some UAE residents take in running down Dubai.
Unlike where I was born (Montreal) or where I grew up (Toronto) or where I lived in the 1990s (Tokyo) or where my wife and I raised our children (Al Ain) or where I now reside (Abu Dhabi), Dubai invokes a visceral reaction. Mentioning the city demands a response, and not just an offhanded remark, but a passionate rebuttal, a detailed argument about the emirate.
For good or for bad, Dubai tries to be the biggest and the best, which means it sometimes comes across as slightly artificial, and that leaves it open to criticism.
In the 2016 Global Liveability Ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Dubai placed 74 out of 140 cities, and finished ahead of Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, San Paulo, Bangkok and Mexico City.
Simply being a livable city, however, isn’t enough for Dubai. It must boast the world’s tallest building, the largest glow in the dark painting, the largest human sentence, the largest origami mosaic, the tallest chocolate sculpture and the largest gathering of people dressed as nurses. (These are all Dubai records according to guinnessworldrecords.com).
Dubai is also one of the safest cities in the world (ranked number three in the 2015 World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report). It offers residents the chance to buy property, build a career and raise a family.
Where I previously worked, there was a British gentleman who took great satisfaction in trying to point out the inconsistencies of a new decree or a government announcement. It didn’t matter if it was the most ambitious of plans with the best of intentions. This former colleague would use every opportunity to take a shot at Dubai.
There were occasionally legitimate issues he raised during his diatribe, but the spirit of his criticism was never constructive. He never spoke from the position of a friend.
When I hear people complain about Dubai, I call them out. This city you are highly critical of, I say, has hurt you how? With that great job, with that wonderful salary, with that tax-free lifestyle?
Numbeo.com is a database that gathers what people think and say about a city’s crime rate and cost of living, among other statistical information. While it has no third-party moderator, it is – certainly from an anecdotal perspective – interesting to consider. Using my former British colleague’s city of London, Numbeo.com (which was created by an ex-Google engineer) finds Dubai to be safer and less expensive than London.
The history of London, the culture, the entertainment, the people – they all make it one of the greatest cities in the world. It has few equals. But my former British colleague hasn’t lived there in nine years. So while London may be the city where he wants to reside, it is in the UAE where he actually lives.
Pointing out a city’s short-comings is understandable, but doing it with cynicism defeats the argument, especially when you take advantage on a daily basis of all the benefits that the city provides.