Dear Rubina Sahiba, 

Your column, ‘Anokha Rang’, brings to mind many facts about human values and attitudes, and the human reaction to various parameters of social and economic factors that control and influence our lives. You are obviously overly impressed with tall buildings, the attractive shopping malls, well laid out streets full of imported BMWs and Mercedes. Who would not be – I would be too.  

Every drop of oil that has been extracted in the region, goes for the luxury of the few which becomes a source of attraction for many. The guest workers or the hired hands are only too happy to have an opportunity to work and earn some money while they can.  

The oil rich Sheikhdoms stand out like a rich man’s haveli in the middle of a poverty stricken cluster of villages in today’s Pakistan or almost any place on earth imagined five centuries ago. The unskilled labor goes there to offer their menial services to earn their livelihood. The educated people go there to sell their time at inflated rates to make tax free money that cannot be done elsewhere.  

The Dubai economy was indeed built on the region’s oil money, but now its 40 billion dollars yearly revenue includes less than 5% revenues from oil exports. Their oil reserves are drying up. Dubai is now a place for tourism and a large business hub as a free port. It will flourish as the rest of the world flourishes. Inflation or other economic hardships in the industrial world causes a negative impact on places that survive on its services, such as Dubai and many other holiday resorts. We have recently seen how Dubai’s real estate market has suffered as a result of international inflation and economic difficulties.  

The work force of Dubai mostly depends on the labor imported from various third world countries. The technology and technocrats are brought in from the industrial West. Dubai, like so many other Arab countries, has nothing to offer to its imported hired hands on long term basis. In fact the Arab oil Sheikhdoms, have not done much to ensure even their own long term future. Most of their economies are tied with oil – when the oil is gone, every thing will be gone with it. The Sheikhdoms have huge investments in the US and European countries for the rainy day. It is any one’s guess what will happen to their investments in the long run when the chips are really down, knowing what happened to Iranian Shah’s money in America.  

Dubai, like so many other Arab countries, is a transitional camp for foreign workers who make up about 85% of the total population which is about 1.4 million. The man-woman ratio is about 3:1, just about 350,000 women, among  over a million men.  

Dubai can be a fertile ground for a Canadian immigration agent. With Canada’s low population growth, less than 1.8 per couple on the average, the immigration business will go on for some time to come.  

The Arab world had more than half of world’s oil reserves under their soil. Most of this oil is closer to ground and costs about $5 a barrel to extract. The oil in Canada, Russia and America costs six times as much per barrel to extract. With so much oil, and so cheap to extract, what do the Arabs have to show for? Almost nothing except Dubai – a city of 1.5 million, the 85% of which are outsiders and they will remain the outsiders. In spite of the abundance of money, the Arabs could not create their own engineers, doctors, accountants, technologists even to this day.