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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and thought-provoking,
The above anecdote is taken from Jim Krane's excellent new book on Dubai and, to an extent, it sums up everything that's wonderful and disappointing about how an insignificant fishing village has taken just a few decades to turn itself into one of the most prominent spots on the planet. On the one hand, it shows that the city's rise is the stuff of youthful dreams, the product of an irrepressible exuberance and lust for change. On the other, it suggests that maybe the process which has resulted in - amongst other ostentations - the world's tallest building might've benefited from at least a little more maturity and a little less impetuousness.
Starting with thoroughly engrossing accounts of the region's past - full of stories of pearl divers and trigger-happy British imperialists - Krane outlines the rise to power of Dubai's ruling family, moves on to the current political climate and concludes with a series of chapters which adopt an admirably non-judgemental tone to examine what are commonly considered to be the city's main vices, from prostitution to the treatment of expatriate labourers. Along the way, he includes evidence from fascinating historical sources as well as first-hand interviews to create a sophisticated portrait of a place which has all too-often either been unquestionably lauded by fans or summarily rubbished by detractors. Finally, he looks to the future and puts forward several intriguing ideas about where the Emirate might go in the next few years, including one possibility that it might gain independence from the rest of the UAE before too long. Perhaps Krane's ultimate message is that, love it or loathe it, Dubai has now become a city as complex and multi-layered as any other, and that it deserves to be appraised on its own terms.
For people who've lived in Dubai, `The Story of The World's Fastest City' is essential reading, certain to stir emotions and challenge long-held prejudices. For others, it provides a balanced insight into the region, with all its idiosyncrasies and seemingly incomprehensible paradoxes. Although you may not agree with every point it makes, you can't deny the power and neatness of Krane's prose and, of course, the allure of his subject. Dubai tells a story that you just can't put down. The only question is: can you keep up with it?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem of a Book,
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best written book on Dubai yet,
Previous books, such as Chris Davidson's Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success, have certainly added to the reader's undestanding of Khaleeji culture and the development of the emirate of Dubai. However, many lack the pace of Crane's book which rattles along at a fine pace, yet still covering what is known of Dubai with depth and breadth.
Davidson's book also has annoying mistakes which to readers who really know Dubai are at best annoying and, at worst, make one doubt other details in the book.
As a long term resident of Dubai, I particularly enjoyed the early chapters which, for me, put the modern Dubai into perspective. My reading of it is that the last few years of stellar growth are entirely consistent with the plans of its earliest rulers and that the current economic woes are just one more challenge for the brave and hardy people of Dubai to overcome.
Dubai is a fascinating city of contrasts. It makes up one small part of an amazing, young, growing country. This book comes as close as possible to explaining the feeling, the facts and the sheer wonder of the place.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight to a complex city!,
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, the best yet on Dubai,
He tells the story of Dubai with a clarity and simplicity that is a joy to follow. I particularly liked the evocation of Dubai in the 1950s before the electric light and abolition of slavery (which only came in 1963).
At night the city was so dark that ships and aircraft could not see it. Without air-conditioning residents slept on the roof for cool in the summer. Dubai was as backward as any coastal town in Africa today.
It reminded me of when I went back to the UK as an expatriate for the first time in 1996 and met an old family friend (Bob Williams, the architect who designed our family home) and he recalled being stationed in Dubai during the Second World War.
`What on earth are you doing in Dubai,' asked an incredulous eighty year old. `There is nothing there.'
His recollection was accurate. Dubai in the Second World War was down to 7,000 residents, the majority living in huts made out of palm leaves. People were eating lizards, locusts and leaves, and some actually starved.
Square that with `The Story of the World's Fastest Growing City' that Mr. Kane so admirably describes. It is progress of a kind seldom seen in human history and at a speed beyond belief.
How on earth did Dubai transform itself into a modern, multicultural metropolis of 1.5 million souls? Mr. Krane highlights visionary leadership, political stability and huge investment in infrastructure projects thought to be completely insane at the time. Friendliness, tolerance of foreigners and putting business interest first came a close second.
Of course, you have to inject oil money into that recipe for success. Dubai seems to have had just the right amount of oil money to get things going but not enough to ruin it. Today Dubai serves an oil-rich region but is oil-poor itself.
Personally I find this ultimate rags-to-riches tale compelling and it still works, as I explain in my own book `Opportunity Dubai: Making a Fortune in the Middle East' which is also available on Amazon.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Read! Well researched!,
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Dubai.,
This review is from: Dubai: The Story of the World's Fastest City (Kindle Edition)I found the book very informative and interesting. I have been to Dubai many times so it was nice to know the full history.
However, I found the gaps between words rather annoying. It is on most pages. I expect this is due to the justification. It did not spoil the enjoyment of the book.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not perfect,
This feels like a good piece of research by a writer who isn't actually all that familiar with his subject. It also desecnds into rather breathless admiration at times...
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Read,
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A startling insight into Dubai's history and transfomation,
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Dubai: The Story of the World's Fastest City by Jim Krane