In February 2020, shortly before the COVID-19 lockdowns, I visited Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I had not been there in five years.
Despite the recent agreement brokered by Saudi Arabia, it may also be the case that the fight for the future of the country has begun between forces that want militarily either to occupy or liberate South Yemen.
Wealthy, ambitious and emboldened by US acquiescence, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have emerged as key protagonists in thwarting popular movements.
The UAE’s growing number of free zones are providing secretive havens for offshore companies to avoid taxes, regulation and accountability at home. Shell companies and money laundering abound. But it is still possible for determined researchers to discover who controls and ultimately benefits from this expanding system.
A military-industrial complex is growing in the Gulf states. In May 2018, a British researcher Matt Hedges was arrested in the UAE and charged with espionage for researching this industry as a spy, not a scholar. His colleague Shana Marshall explains why.
Rafeef Ziadah investigates the rise of humanitarian logistics hubs such as Dubai International Humanitarian City, which, although ostensibly humanitarian, have become a key mechanism of intervention and increasingly a central element in the projection of power for the Gulf regimes such as the United Arab Emirates.
At a 2007 Harvard workshop focusing on sustainable architecture in the Persian Gulf, the assembled academics and practitioners quizzed a public relations official from a large Abu Dhabi real estate developer. The workshop participants, among them experts in the field of sustainable development, were curious to know how the developer could claim its projects—large enclaves of high-end retail, entertainment and tourism—were “sustainable.”
Surprisingly, what first strikes one upon landing in Dubai is not the skyscrapers going up at a dizzying pace. It is the sheer bustle of humanity.
To live the East as film is to be in Dubai in mid-December, perched front-row in the outdoor cafés that dot the Madinat Jumeira Oriental theme park. An integrated hotel, shopping and entertainment “experience” sprawled on the city’s booming beachfront rim, the Madina and its whimsy of stucco battlements mass an Arabian fort effect plucked straight from an Indiana Jones set, and as such, the red carpets and film banners that have also come to adorn it in wintertime key a double sense of enframement. From December 11-17, 2005, the Madina hosted the second annual installment of the Dubai International Film Festival, a production whose rumored budget of $10 million has quickly distinguished it as the richest Middle Eastern event of its kind.