A Diamond in the Desert - Behind...
Get a closer look at this glittering, oil-rich city in a “revealing travelogue through the capital of the United Arab Emirates” (Publishers Weekly). Jo Tatchell first arrived in the city of Abu Dhabi as a child in 1974, when the discovery of oil was quickly turning a small fishing town into a growing international community. Decades later, this Middle Eastern capital is a dizzying metropolis of ten-lane highways and overlapping languages, and its riches and emphasis on cultural development have thrust it into the international spotlight. Here, Tatchell returns to Abu Dhabi and explores the city and its contradictions: It is a tolerant melting-pot of cultures and faiths, but only a tiny percentage of its native residents are deemed eligible to vote by the ruling class, and the nation’s president holds absolute veto power over his advisory boards and councils. The Emirates boast one of the world’s highest GDP per capita, but the wealth inequality in its cities is staggering. Abu Dhabi’s royal family, worth an estimated $500 billion, lives off the sweat of the city’s migrant workers, who subject themselves to danger and poverty under barely observed labor laws. But now, the city is making an international splash with a showy investment in tourism, arts, and culture—perhaps signaling a change to a more open, tolerant state. As this sparkling city surges into the future, it devotes just as much energy to concealing its past. Tatchell looks not only at history and social issues—the ancient system of tribal organization, the condition of the city’s million foreign workers, the emergence of women in Emirati society, but also her own experiences as both a child and adult in this fascinating city that has radically changed—and in other ways, stayed the same.