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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling
Over the past few years I have visited Dubai many times, for both work and holidays, so I was interested to explore a little past the 'bling' the tourist is shown and this is an excellent introduction. The author looks at how Dubai involved into the city it is now, at the success on offer, the ups and downs of living there and tries, sometimes with little success, to...
Published on 8 Aug 2011 by S Riaz

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Real Dubai
At first I was not too impressed, as the author seemed to be jumping around and I was not too sure what he was trying to cover. Towards the middle I started to get more comfortable with his style and learned quite a bit about the real Dubai. He concentrates mostly on what life is like for male labourers, he seemed to have little access to almost any kind of female living...
Published on 5 Feb 2011 by Eartha Josephine


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling, 8 Aug 2011
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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Over the past few years I have visited Dubai many times, for both work and holidays, so I was interested to explore a little past the 'bling' the tourist is shown and this is an excellent introduction. The author looks at how Dubai involved into the city it is now, at the success on offer, the ups and downs of living there and tries, sometimes with little success, to meet the 'locals'. For who, indeed, are the locals now? They are, and have been for a while, a minority in their own country - a fact that obviously rankles with some, while other are more pragmatic. There is no doubt that Dubai has become a huge success when, in reality, they had little to bargain with compared to their oil rich neighbours. The author makes the argument that every part of the world has a city which operates a little outside of the norm - Hong Kong in Asia, Monaco in Europe and, in the Middle East, it used to be Beirut. Instability, wars and religious intolerance in the Middle East has led to Dubai emerging as that city. An oasis of religious and cultural tolerance, stability, safety and a playground for the rich.

During his trip around Dubai and other local places just outside of the city, Raymond Barrett attempts to explain to Pakistani taxi drivers where Ireland is, visits the horseracing, goes on a desert safari, looks at the housing market and tries to re-trace some of the places visited by the explorer, Wilfred Thesiger, whose books are still worth reading today. One of the reason Dubai has had success in the author's mind, is that they have done away with the need for 'pull' or 'influence' - in other words, you can go out and start a business and have a chance of it doing well. If you are a Christian you will be able to go to Church, if you are a Hindu you will be able to openly visit the Temple (a fact I was unaware you are unable to do in Saudi Arabia). It is this huge influx of workers from the Indian subcontinent that seem to suffer the most from Dubai's economic attempts to be the 'biggest' and the 'best'. While there are 100,000 Brits currently in the city, most of the men working in unskilled jobs on the construction sites - seen everywhere in Dubai - are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They often end up spending years paying off debts to get to Dubai in the first place, are forced to hand over their passports, and live in harsh conditions for little pay. When construction workers on the site of Burj Dubai rioted over pay and conditions, the ring leaders were deported. Saying that, though, it is a fact that many men (unable to afford to bring their families with them), still make more money working in Dubai than they could at home and that many women and children rely on that money being sent to them. The author looks at all these men doing manual work, from the Indian sub-continent, and asks, "What did all this desert mean to these men: a paycheck, a penance, a purgatory?"

Having examined what Dubai is all about, and giving a short history of the place, the author is obviously still in love with the city and the people. It is friendly, it is safe and there is no doubt that Dubai has made a success of its attempts to be a popular tourist destination. If you want an introduction to the country and what it is about, you will find this an extremely interesting read. Dubai walks a fine line, trying to be all things to all people, and sometimes it fails, but mostly it succeeds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Real Dubai, 5 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling (Paperback)
At first I was not too impressed, as the author seemed to be jumping around and I was not too sure what he was trying to cover. Towards the middle I started to get more comfortable with his style and learned quite a bit about the real Dubai. He concentrates mostly on what life is like for male labourers, he seemed to have little access to almost any kind of female living in Dubai and the book was quite dominated with male characters. He also makes repeated references to Wilfred Thesiger and his Arabian Sands which I found tedious after a while. The author either didn't have much to say about the elite and rulers of Dubai and their lifestyle or he was too scared to. Not much on the history of Dubai so I still need to search for a book that reveals more than this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great book worth a read, 23 May 2013
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A very interesting book great read great information on the history of Dubai couldnt put it down brilliant information thanks
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic place, fantastic history, 15 Mar 2013
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I purchased this book whilst staying in Dubai, very interesting to read and follow all the facts of this fantastic place.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting read, 14 Feb 2013
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As someone who has visited Dubai many times I found this book to be very interesting. Knowing Dubai and the areas referred to in the book certainly contributed to my interest in the book. It may not be so appealing to those who don't know Dubai but would certainly be worth reading as it does illustrate reasonably well 'Dubai's Dream'.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 13 Feb 2013
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R. Maltby (Winchester UK) - See all my reviews
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Very intersting and informative read. Gives holistic view of Dubai ie not a 5* resort review but a realistic and balanced view of the various communities that make up Dubai. This is not a guide to a holiday in Dubai but it does put things in context for when you visit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Read - Brilliant!!, 9 Jun 2011
This review is from: Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling (Paperback)
A fantastic insight into the Kingdom of Bling and the Middle East!! Brilliantly written, insightful, informative, entertaining and humorous. A must read book if your planning to visit the region or want to understand the how and why of Dubai.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and compelling, 8 Jun 2011
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M. Hillarious (Washington D.C.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling (Paperback)
With a host of -somehow wistful- characters, this book takes us through the author's unique perspective of the myriad dreams that shape this complex city. Dubai residents - Pakistani taxi drivers, Emirati Sheikhs, enterprising Persian businessmen, Ethiopian sisters, South Asian construction workers and former Dubai historians- flood into and mingle across each others "narratives" easily, and yet with persistent curiosity Raymond Barrett investigates these intersections, highly successfully, I might add, to answer in a way, his own question -posed earlier in the book- who's experience is essential, whose life to talk about?? Falling into conversation with just about all kinds of dreamers, Barrett paints a compelling mosaic of a city both old and new, constant and changing, familiar and different, localized and globalized... all of which complicates simplistic notions of a "Dubai, Inc"... Having been a resident in the Gulf for some years, this book definitely shakes loose some of the assumptions I have been carrying around myself. A definite must-read for locals, Gulf expats like myself, or anyone who wants to or has lived or visited in and around the area. A recommended read also for students and academics interested in Middle East Studies or international affairs.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read book, 16 Sep 2010
By 
Manush A. Hristov (Arlington, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling (Paperback)
I absolutely loved "Dubai Dreams"! The book gives fascinating insights into the unique intersection of politics, business, religion and culture in the region, all told in a creative nonfiction style through the personal experiences of the author and his intriguing encounters with a motley cast of locals and ex-pats. What I liked the most is the author's eloquence and gift for gripping story-telling, which made the book an instant page-turner for me. By the end of it, not only did I feel like I had learned a lot about Dubai and the Middle East, but also that I had been thoroughly entertained.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does not reflect Dubai, 27 April 2013
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This review is from: Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling (Paperback)
I lived in Dubai for 9 years and mixed with the locals - this book seems to be to have been written by someone who has spent a minimum amount of time in the country - I could not even finish it.
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Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling
Dubai Dreams: Inside the Kingdom of Bling by Raymond Barrett (Paperback - 7 Jan 2010)
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