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Wed 11 Jul 2007 01:34 PM

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Sunday Times touches raw nerve in Dubai

A travel article exposing the decadent lifestyle of Dubai's super-rich has expat residents rushing to defend the city.

A travel articlein Britain's Sunday Times has caused a storm of controversy in Dubai as expat residents defend the city described as "the new Babylon" by reporter Charlie Norton.

Dubai is some way short of being the wealthiest city in the world - as Babylon is thought to have been 3000 years ago - but the Sunday Times article was keen to focus on the decadence of the city's super-rich.

Dubai is "a cauldron of glitzy wealth, where outrageous spending is the norm," the author wrote. He described nightlife where playboys bought up to four £50,000 bottles of champagne, week-long parties on superyachts, and gold-plated golf buggies.

Residents of Dubai rushed to post comments about the article on the Sunday Times web site - criticising the superficial picture of the city's mega-wealthy and ignoring the daily grind for thousands of hardworking expatriates.

A reader known as "Georgia from Dubai," spoke for the majority of commentators when she observed: "There are people here in Dubai who earn an obscene amount of money and have no problem flaunting it, but there are plenty of us who, even though we are hardworking professionals in quite senior jobs, struggle to pay the rent. The days of lavish expat packages for all and sundry are well and truly over."

"Cliff from Dubai" called the article "a laughable caricature."

The Sunday Times, along with the daily The Times, began publishing a same-day edition in the Middle Eastin partnership with a Saudi Arabian media company.

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