Hello Dubai, Joe Bennett
It was a treat to discover this book at the library for the usual 50c a few months ago. Knowing that I was on my way there, I snapped it up and starting reading it on the flight over. I have enjoyed Bill Bryson’s travel writing over the years, but have not read many other travel authors.
Bennett has a similar style to Bryson, that is, he can present history, facts & situations well, with insightful analysis as well as humour. It's not a book I would have bothered reading if I was not going there, but since I was it was very interesting and instructive. What I realised upon arriving in Dubai was that I have absolutely no knowledge or experience of that part of the world. To I be honest I had to look up exactly where it was on a map to show my kids because I was not sure.
As such, I have no understanding of the region or much of Arab history, and no knowledge of the Emirates or Emirati culture, let alone all the people who live here from so many countries of the world. Bennett claims that only 5% of the population are citizens, the rest are guests. Over 60% are from the Indian subcontinent, the rest from everywhere else, my estimate would be another 30% would be from Asia. As such, there are almost no old people in Dubai. You go there to work and then you go home.
I am unable to test anything Bennett said or claimed, but from my incredibly limited time there and conversations with people living there, much of it rang true.
So I am glad to have read it and learnt just a little bit more about the United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai. I left the book in the hands of friends there, I imagine they will now have much more use for it than I do!