Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Dubai - Sun,Sand and Sewage


Hubris, Nemesis and Schadenfreude are available in one handy package this week as Dubai's beaches fester in a tide of raw sewage.

It seems the worm has turned; the low-paid immigrant workers whose menial labour props up the opulent lifestyles of Dubai's wealthy residents and tourists are - quelle surprise! - not doing their jobs sufficiently diligently. Instead of undertaking the long (and smelly) drive into the desert to queue up at the nearest sewage plant, lorry drivers have simply been tipping the contents of cess-pits into storm drains debouching directly into the sea on the exclusive Jumeira Beach.

Dubai's spectacular new developments - familiar from a host of programmes like 'Megastructures' and 'Building the Biggest' - attract a host of hubristic superlatives but don't, apparently, include sufficient sewage treatment works to serve the increasing population. One hopes, given the levels of e. coli measured on the beach, that they have provided adequate hospital facilities for all.

The situation is complicated by the amount of new tourist accomodation being built along the coastline, and that's where our Schadenfreude comes in. Remember the new Versace Hotel? The one with the refrigerated beach? Designed to attract supermodels and top investment bankers and Paris Hilton? Now think of its fastidious designer-clad clientele ankle deep in raw sewage and mad as hell, and smile!

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