ABC's second long-form feature was the third entry in Bill Weir's Key to the World series. This one took him to Dubai, one of the world's buildingest cities.
Dubai is the Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf in two ways. It is an extravagant tourist attraction--with an indoor ski slope, artificial landfilled islands in the shape of a palm tree, opulent hotels--built in the middle of the desert. And it is licentious in its tolerance of alcohol and public exposure of women's skin. Bars close at 3am, just before the mosque's first call to prayer. "It is like England without the rain," smiled a British drinker.
The dream of creating a port, a financial center and a tourist resort in Dubai started only a decade ago with the father of the current ruler Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum. Weir's explanation for the dynamism of the city's expansion was counter-intuitive: unlike most of its neighbors in the Persian Gulf region, Dubai has "a relative dollop of crude" reserves. Because there is no oil wealth, Dubai had to be creative, not lazy, to be wealthy.
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