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Sun 12 Mar 2017 08:12 AM

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Tell me again exactly how Dubai has hurt you?

Too many people focus on what the emirate is not, rather than what it is.

Tell me again exactly how Dubai has hurt you?
Home sweet home: Instead of criticising a city, recognise its benefits.

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

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? 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, (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.

Mak 2 years ago

Bravo - very well said.

One Guy 2 years ago

I think many people could comment and tell you exactly, however I'm very positive that AB wont post them........says a lot.

MacMuhan 2 years ago

Pay in Dubai is based on the passport you hold. I am sorry , no offense here...

Ying L 2 years ago

I'm from China and I live in Dubai and I can't see myself living in any other city .. I lived in London, Doha and New York before.

Hala Khalaf 2 years ago

Spot on, completely agree. Either offer constructive criticism that may lead to solutions while acknowledging how lucky we are to be here, where we have CHOSEN to be, or start planning your exit asap because negativity benefits no one.
It's good to read your work again, Michael!

Kamran 2 years ago

When I was living in Dubai I also repeatedly heard the same from the typically European or of European descent, but oddly found those who have also visited Dubai and are of European descent feel the same. I have come to the conclusion they are all racists and can't stand the success Dubai as a Muslim city has achieved.

Telcoguy 2 years ago

1) Weak legal system, quite a serious issue. Funny that the author talks about buying property in a place where property rights can be "funny"
2) Substandard banking seems like a serious shortcoming for a place that wants to be a global hub.
3) Poor construction quality does not help when you want to position yourself as a luxury destination.
4) No other place i lived i have found so many people so insecure that need to be reassured that "Dubai is the best"
But yes you are right, this will probably not be published.

Christine 2 years ago

Agree with Dubai being probably the safest place in the world. Undisputed that everybody appreciates that. However, when it comes to real estate many people got taken advantage of big time. I live in a development where we the interim Owners board wanted to change the OA Manager and went to great length to get that approved by RERA, without success!! They are fully backing the totally intransparent business practices of the current OA manager. We are denied access to any financial information whatsoever. In addition the amount of forced innovation (whether change of procedures for company registration, visa, etc.) is mind boggling and costs a lot of time. Also the many stamping fees, charges, tolls are not making it exactly a tax free haven anymore. Quality food is now almost as expensive as it mainland Europe. If you want organic you pay a fortune. What is still attractive is gasoline but they are also increasing that. It's true that we voluntarily have come to this place and can leave anytime

Mohammed 2 years ago

Thank you for explaining the things we have always wanted to say but could not find the words to do so.

Billy 2 years ago

One Guy I totally agree with you. This City has hurt me very badly and I am personally aware of quite a few other people who are trying to rescue what remains of their lives due to the damage inflicted by Dubai. Detailing them publicly is not possible but denying these issues exist will also not serve the greater good of Dubai. This article naively tries to assert that Dubai is perfect and we have nothing to complain about but without airing such issues they will never get fixed. I have chosen to live here for 24 years because it is a great place to be but to deny it has really hurt me would be to deny the truth. I just wish there was a forum to openly discuss these issues so that this great city could get even better, but sadly there is not.