Letters from the desert

 

Dear friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am an Emirati from Dubai and I was born here. “This is the best place in the world to be young! The government pays for your education up to PhD level. You get given a free house when you get married. You get free healthcare, and if it’s not good enough here, they pay for you to go abroad. You don’t even have to pay for your phone calls. Almost everyone has a maid, a nanny, and a driver. And we never pay any taxes. Don’t you wish you were Emirati?« 

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Dear friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. My ancestors were the first ones to arrive on this land and since then we all have been living here. My grandfather is one of the founding father of the United Arab Emirates and one day, like my dad currently, I will be the father of this people. A long time ago, my ancestors arrived on this deserted land, riding camels and having dates and milk as for meal…And now you should come and see, the emirates, come and see Dubai. It is indeed impressive. We did struggle in the past to transform this ungrateful land into some kind of a paradise. We would trade pearls, seafood, anything that could help us survive and thrive. Allah the Merciful had pity and provided oil for the emirates to move even forward.

Dubai used whatever money she had and she reinvested every dime into real estate, infrastructures, doping the trade and the tourism. We have turned into one key trading platform in the east and a hub for the air traffic. We have one of the finest hotels in the world, the only 7 star restaurants and above standard malls. My fathers brought water, here in the desert, then they brought the snow and now we can ski the whole year long. They built roads and designed the cities, coming up with optimal cadastral plans. They brought islands to surface and built unique skyscrapers, as you will never see anywhere in the world. They revived Atlantis, the lost kingdom and you can now sleep at the bottom of the ocean with sharks and dolphins as companions. The Burj-al-khalifa is our pride, the burj-al-arab, an architectural marvel. The sea is blue and you will never found a single dust in it. Public transportation is reliable, and the bus stops have also get air conditioner to survive the naturally unfriendly weather of Dubai. Our brothers in Abu Dhabi have even built one of the most beautiful and magnificent religious temple in the world: Sheik Zayed mosque, the one named after the founding father who changed the destiny of a people.

I am Hamdane Al Maktoum and my father is the ruler of Dubai. I have studied both in the emirates and the United Kingdom. I am the crown prince and one day, I will be ruling over this entire land and continuing the work of my father and of my father’s father, diversifying our economy away from oil so as to survive. I dream I will be able to walk into the footstep of my fathers and bring even more comfort and richness to this country I love while maintaining the peace, and happiness in the heart of the people, in the name of Allah and by His only grace.

I read sometimes foreign articles talking about how fake our country is, about what is awaiting us and what we will suffer in the future and I wonder what they see is fake. The walls of the towers are not made out of paper. The vessels of our trade are not mere pirogues and the financial empires our people are building do not make less sense compared to the Occidental ones. Yes, we went through a though crisis a couple of years ago and we might have gone bankrupt if it weren’t for our oil-rich neighbours, but those things happen and the West should know it even better than us. They say we defy Mother Nature more than we should, that we are throwing money out by the window with all our fancy and useless real estate projects; that we are digging our own graves by over-pampering our illiterate people; that this is our strategy so they shall worship us and forget to mind about how tyrannical we are in reality; that we are eventually not sustainable and will surely crash.

There are so many things being said on Dubai. Well, what did the world expected? Yes, we are pampering our people, they deserve it, they are the very reason why we are working this much. We are one of the freest and most peaceful states in the entire Arabic peninsula. We welcome all strangers and wish for them to settle in the creek and enjoy themselves without fear of retribution. As a matter of fact the great majority of the people here in Dubai are not Emiratis. We are a minority in our own state. How can someone even say we are not opened? We despise crimes under any form. Robbery, treachery, murders and any other immoral stances is heavily punished and will be heavily punished in the future. If this is being tyrannical, well we might as well be called so. We do not wish to be a mere replica of the Occident. We want to be better. So we shall always harshly tackle all those quirks of the spirit which rotten minds and deplete nations.

Yes, we are defying Mother Nature. What? Were we supposed to accept our fate and silently cope with what She had to offer to us, sand and rocks? No, we did not. And we will not in the future. We do know we must find a way to stay at the top and we are already working on it, we had always been working on it, ever since my grandfather Rachid el Maktoum founded with Cheikh Zayed and Cie the Emirates. I, too, when my time will come shall spend all my effort on it.

I cannot predict the future indeed, but what is for sure is that we will never go back to riding camels and eating dates and milk to nurture ourselves. This is and will stay the past forever. We will keep on fighting against Nature, harshly if need be. And Hamdoullah, we will certainly prevail.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am from France and I landed into the creek decades ago. I arrived to realize my dream, to revive Atlantis, you know, the lost kingdom.

I studied here in France and attended the best school of engineer. I learnt whatever needed to be learnt to perform in the field of infrastructure and lead construction projects. So, when my company won the bid on that project and my manager called and told me I would have to go to Dubai, I felt that was the opportunity for me to prove the world what I was worth. Soon, I would have my mark standing high in one of the trendiest place to be worldwide. My wife was sad to leave her family and friends but she already hated her work here in France so it was ok. I left first. She would follow me later on, after she would have taken care of all the packaging and shipping of our stuffs.

I arrived in Dubai and got immediately grasp by the humidity and the high temperature. I was told a car would be waiting to drive me to my hotel and spent a high time trying to interact with people at the airport. I bumped into that big guy from Senegal who had already been living in Dubai for a long time and was able to express himself in Arabic. He helped me and we exchanged our contacts. I don’t know exactly what he was doing in Dubai but I called him the following week as I was feeling desperately lonely in this beautiful country where I knew no one, and we had a drink. He shared with me some hint and tips about the place and I thought it could be useful to have someone like him around. I offered him a salary to become my jack-of-all-trades and we started hanging out together. My wife arrived and we would sometimes meet up, the four of us, my wife, him, his girlfriend “the duchess” – I guess, for her haughty ways – and me. We would have a lot of fun sometimes indeed, shopping, playing golf and horse riding.

But then the Atlantis project got to an end and we had to go back to Europe. I quit of course. Who would ever want to leave a place where he has a chauffeur, a cook, a nanny and a housemaid and where he spends his time organizing garden parties with the other European expatriates?

I had enough money anyway to start something by myself, plus the loan I got from the bank, I mounted a small business…which went bankrupt a couple of years ago. Then the nightmare started as “bankruptcy” did and still does not exist in Dubai dictionary, especially regarding foreigners. Either you can pay and everything is perfect, or you cannot and then it is a much serious issue. They came and took everything we had: our cars, our house, absolutely everything. They sent me to jail and confiscated our passports so we would not leave the country without paying what we owed. My wife almost went completely crazy. She called that wealthy friend of hers in France who ultimately managed to write off our debt. We were then kicked out of the country and landed back in France. Just like that.

It’s been years since that day when we arrived at Charles de Gaulle, completely disoriented, and we still think there is something unreal in this story of ours. Our life in Dubai was just a dream or is it our life since we came back: it has to be one or another. It is not possible for both of those lives to be sound and connected. It makes absolutely no sense. It cannot have happened to us. It is just not possible indeed.

I found a work to reimbursed my ex-wife’s friend and I still can’t believe that it is possible to go from heaven to hell without any notice. Was it 20 years ago when I ran after the mirage of the desert, the mirage of greatness standing in the form of skyscrapers and gigantic shopping malls, and SUVs and housemaids? I can’t tell it anymore. Since I came back to France, I lost complete track of the time and of my life. Dubai has the beauty of the devil. Indeed, still waters do run deep.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am from Senegal. I left a century ago in search of a better life and I ended up here in Dubai. At first, I did a lot of stuff and managed to survive wheeling and dealing all year long. Then the father of this nation came up with that big infrastructure project and hired the best professionals in the world to work on it. I met that French engineer when I was at the airport, coming back from my holidays in Dakar. He was asking for direction and as he couldn’t speak Arabic, he was having a hard time interacting with people and started cursing in French. Today, I can thank the Gods for French happens to be the official language in Senegal.

I could hear exactly what he was saying and faithfully translate it in Arabic. He must have sensed how useful a personal right hand could be in an unknown environment. He came up with an offer and I became his jack-of-all-trades. I would do anything for him and he would pay me in dollars. He was rich, as would be most of the expatriates summoned by the Emirati government to defy Mother Nature and change the face of a desert. I was well-paid indeed. This is when my life actually kicked up. I rented a bigger flat, and saved enough money to start loading boats to West African harbours. Yes, the world is fond of that furniture, carpets, and other ornamental from the Orient. I guess this goes back far in time when merchants would come back to the west with vessels full of pearls and fabrics and exotic spices and perfumes. Not only is it trendy, but for Africa, it is also cheaper than whatever the Occident may ever offer.

A few years later, I was not exactly rich but I had enough money to live decently. They would even call me the “Emirati oil tycoon” back there in Dakar, where I would return for the December party season as I would spend more money than most of them would ever see in their entire life. But of course, I was not an Emirati. I could have lived a 1000 years in the Emirates; I still would not have been an Emirati. The only way to be an Emirati is to have it in your vein. Of course too, living in Dubai, I couldn’t really be into the oil business. Whoever understands a little bit the U.A.E knows that the oil-rich emirate is Abu Dhabi and not Dubai. Dubai is about tourism, trade and real estate. But indeed, I just couldn’t tell everyone that I was actually playing the dog by a little Frenchman side, right? It would have been terrible for my reputation, really.

One holiday, I came back from Senegal to see that the French guy had left the country in the rush. I felt sad, not that I was regretting the dude as he was nothing but mere entertainment to me, but I did regret the pay check as he would always pay well. I always wondered about those Occidental fellows, coming all the way from their hometown and taking this place easy just because it looked like a giant Disneyland. No country in the world is a joke and before settling somewhere you might as well carefully check wherever you put your feet in, instead of acting illegally and complaining later about the drawbacks. I heard something like that happened to my engineer, he thought Dubai was a joke. He thought wrong.

It wasn’t a big deal though since I was getting more and more involved into the trade with Africa and I barely had the time for anything else. I had under my orders Africans from all horizons and with all kind of situations. I even got enough money to buy some flats and rent it to some undocumented immigrants who otherwise could have never been able to find a place to live.

I met that girl from Ethiopia, a night when I was going to a club with other friends from Africa. You should have seen her. She was the most beautiful girl of the entire room. She was like a lotus flower, standing clean in the middle of dirt. I did what I had to do and we started dating. She ultimately came and lived in my condo. She was my queen indeed, the duchess. I would give her whatever she wants and she would take it all and even more. But then, my sick mum called from Senegal, arguing that I had to get married. She already had the perfect wifey for me. She would die in short so she at least wanted to attend the wedding of her only son, there in Dakar, with the bride she had carefully chosen for him.

Walahe, my mum was all I had in my life…but I still couldn’t say anything to my Ethiopian girl. I shamefully sneaked to Senegal and married the one girl that my mum destined for me. You should have seen mommy that day. She is dead today but anytime I think about that face she made at my wedding, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the one lady currently bearing my child. I came back to Dubai straight after and told the Ethiopian girl to leave. I know I hurt her. I was her rock and I let her down. Still, it was her fault too of course. Really, why would a human being put all his trust, love and energy in one only fellow? It makes no sense for me. A mature woman should not be this naïve and confident.

My mom was coming the following month with my pregnant wife and I really did not need the Ethiopian girl around. I offered her some money; I even paid her ticket to leave for Addis Ababa for a time, at least until my mum leave. She was stubborn to start with, but ultimately understood it all: I could not have married her in the first place anyway. She should have been aware of that. She was not Wolof, not even Senegalese, or at least Muslim, besides not madam enough for me. She finally left, even though the gloomy face of that witch she used to call her little sister is following me in the street every time it sees me, accusing me to have ruined the life of her relative. Funny, because the duchess was nothing before I offered to her a life she never could have hoped for: cars, trips, champagnes, jewels. The duchess was MY invention.

Love is nothing, just an ever-changing situation, passion cools and all the magic ends up fading away. Life is about balance not love or passion.

My dear mom died last year. My baby girl is one year old and my hardworking and respectable wife I will never get myself to love is pregnant for the 3rd time, after a miscarriage. Inch’allah this time, she will give me a son, the Senegalese Prince of the desert, who will someday take over the flourishing business of his dad and extend it. Work pays off, indeed, and blood, and toil and tears and sweat.

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Dear friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am from Ethiopia and I am currently at Dubai international airport. I just met that girl from England who asked me why I was laughing out loud all by myself like a mad woman when I looked this healthy and sound. I told her I had to go back home and leave Dubai for good, for the sake of a love I used to have.

I arrived in Dubai a decade ago. Seems like an eternity already. I was afraid at the beginning, being alone and all, in this strange Muslim country which was not home and had nothing to do with it, in the desert where skyscrapers would grow like mushrooms and snow could fall 24/7 the whole year long.

I was afraid and really thought I could never make it. I just wasn’t prepared enough to what was coming next. I will spare to you the details, but God can testify: I struggled my dear, really. Yet, the truth is I did not believe in my inner strength from the beginning, I did not believe I could achieve anything by my own self.

I was not an engineer, not even Muslim or at least white skinned. I was a woman. A Christian, black and low educated African woman who could barely speak some words in English. Not to mention Arabic. I encountered him one day and I thought that God in His kindness had sent an angel that would care for me until the very end. For the first time in my life, I had some bearings: a dependable man, a roof over my head, daily food on my table and pocket money to shop. Not having to worry about my future, I learnt Arabic and my Senegalese love taught me the basic of the trade here in Dubai: buy stuff, load ships and send it wherever it was needed.

I had an advantage compared to a lot of other immigrates in the Emirates: I had my documents and the right to work and live in Dubai. So I would, in exchange of some money lend my identity to African business women in need. Everything was doing well, indeed. I managed to save some money and I used all of it to pay the flight for my sister to come and join me, so, she too could escape from the emptiness of the lives that would have awaited us, in some suburb of Addis Ababa.

I was so happy when I went to the airport to get my little sister as she was arriving to Dubai. I managed to get her documents out and I even found a job for her. Though we would argue sometimes, I always thought that whatever could happen, we would still have our back, sisters forever. That was my own foolish dream.

For a time, there was no traffic and I stopped charging boats to Ethiopia. I spent almost half a year with no cash entry except the one my love would kindly offer to me. But it was ok, I guess. I had a home, food and the clear conscience to have helped out my only sister to escape from poverty.

Then that punk went once on holidays back to his country. He returned completely different. He announced to me out of the blue, that I had to leave his house because he got married in Senegal and was in the process of flying his wife to Dubai so she could occupy her rightful place. Not only was he kicking me out of his life, but he also needed me to leave the country as I, or was it our memories, would have been a burden for the future of his love life. This was too much. I started being a laughing stock for all the African community: She who was playing the queen, she, the renowned “duchess” had been demoted.

I tried and gathered the remaining pieces of my pride and went to see my sister, confident in the fact that she would help me. I needed money to find myself a house and to start a business. That ungrateful bitch ditched me and bought a ticket to go on holidays to Ethiopia with the money she earned at the work I found for her when I changed her life and offered to her a brighter future here in Dubai. I was speechless.

My ex-angel was urging me to leave the country every single day and I thought it couldn’t be worst but then my sister, that sly fox kicked me out of her place because, she said and I quote: “My boyfriend said we need some privacy, sis. You know he is the one paying”. I only got myself to blame. I am the only one who walked naively through life as if it was some kind of joke. And it served me right.

I am at the airport now and heading back home to Ethiopia. My Senegalese savior paid the ticket. That is the least he could have done for me, in memory of all the years we shared together. Some of the girls I met in Dubai are scandalized. They say if they were me, they would never leave etc. But they are not me, and I cannot stand that town anymore, that town where I had it all and lost it all overnight. I am going back to Ethiopia. I might meet there the girl who once was my sister as she will be there for her holiday. And I swear to God that never, never again shall I suffer this kind of humiliation; the humiliation of the immigrants who left home and came back as broke and useless as he was in the first place.

Now my nature is indeed forged and I am made out of steel. To the girls who call me stupid because I am going back to hell without any security parachute, I can say this:

I am going back home, to lick my wounds. But I will rise up again, and that day, I pray for the bitches and the bastards who turned me into this bitter person to never encounter my way. I am leaving Dubai and now I know that man is a wolf to another man. So God, please protect me from my friends. There are just a few of them so it will be an easy task. I am taking care of my enemies.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well. I am doing just fine and this is my story. I arrived 7 years ago in Dubai on my way to Germany. Yes, I was not supposed to ever live here. All I was to do was a transit, which changed my life upside down.

I was born and raised in Cameroon. Whoever set feet in this land blessed by the Gods will tell you how far it is from heaven. I was born there, from a nice family, normal family. Though we were absolutely not rich, I don’t remember ever missing food on the table. I learnt to be a good wife, to take care of my future hubby and of my children to come. I was the perfect daughter and the perfect wifey to be. You can ask any of my relatives, they will tell you. I had no big dreams except to get my own family and cater for it, as soon as possible.

Then I met this guy and he changed my life. He made me forget all the promises I ever made and all the dreams I ever had. Thanks to him, I lost what I know now where the best years of my life. I got out of this relationship thinking so little of my own self that I could as well be dead. But still I was alive. All the more as I had this little treasure the Gods, in their mercy agreed to offer me: my little baby, my sunrise, my all, my baby girl.

I spent 2 years trying hard to take care of her and of myself, joggling between works, timetables, people, and lives. Until that very day when I completely broke and knew there was no way for me to keep on walking in this sadness and bitterness they call Cameroon. Heavyhearted, I decided to leave, for me, for my baby girl, for a better version of our own selves. I barely had enough in the pocket for my own trip and anyway could not go for an unknown world with a 3 year old little girl. I left her with my mum. I always despised the women who left their children behind them and always thought absolutely no reason could justify such an act. And there I was, staring at my daughter, knowing I would be away the following day, far away, in a place she could not come and meet me whenever she wanted.

The person who organized the trip said we were going to Germany. He also said that we will have to stop by Dubai according to our airline itinerary. When we arrived in Dubai, we stopped for a couple of hours and we were supposed to meet up after to catch the next flight. I was at our meeting point. He was not. My ticket and my passport neither. Long after the plane left, when I finally got my brain to understand that I got trapped, I just turned back, half amused half horrified and said: Assalam Alaikum Dubai.

Life in Dubai helped me discover how resourceful I was, me, who always only wished to love and to be loved in return, wished to be someone’s wife and someone’s mum. I was there alone in this Muslim country I had never heard about with no other option than survive. I laughed not to cry and to chase away the demons that were surrounding me, trying to make me drawn in that ocean of sadness i had been pushed in, I laughed so much it hurt my chest; I laughed and cursed the world, and the Gods who dared fight against me and entertain my misery. I laughed and started by changing my name, hoping Allah could be more merciful.

I found a way and started teaching French to an Imam’s daughters who was from Mauritania and needed his children to be able to interact with their relatives back home. Ok, I was in Dubai, I needed to get the most out of it, there was no point in crying on spilt water. Besides, I had to pay everyday a fine to the Emirati police for my illegal stay in the country. Every single day. I got to encounter a Senegalese who was working in the trade business. I learnt fast and started loading my own vessels for people in Cameroon. At the same time, I paid a Somali girl to help me with Arabic and in the process of regularizing my situation. I don’t know if she is even translating it the right way, I don’t understand what she is saying when talking to the Emirati administration. All I know is that it has been 7 years since I came to Dubai and I am still paying the Somali lady for her to translate. I am still paying the day by day taxes as well.

The Senegalese guy helped me rent a 12m2 studio, since I don’t have the necessary documents to rent anything in this country, and furnished it with 6 beds. I rent the beds to travellers and to other women who carry their own sad story into their eyes. Recently, there is that Ivorian lady who arrived from Libya, Ivory Coast and Germany. I hope life will treat her kind. Dubai is no joke for the poor. There is also that other one, who came all the way from Ethiopia and saved enough money to have her sister come too. She is the one who helps me when I load the vessels as she has her resident card and can therefore execute the trade in my name. And now, she is saying that she is going back home…

It has been 7 years since I last saw my daughter. I was not even there, the first time she went to high school. How I wish I could obtain my documents at last! I would fly back home, first thing, to see my baby and assess how tall she grew.

All I wished was to live the life of a housewife. Not much compared to the dreams of my classmates and cousins wishing to become dentists, engineers, and lawyers.

I eventually found out that Allah was no better than Jehovah so I switched back to my old surname. However you call me though, I shall turn round and respond to you. Because now I know: There is one God in this life of mine. And that is me.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well. I am doing just fine and this is my story. I arrived some weeks ago, craving for a fresh start. I was born in Ivory Coast, almost half a century ago now. Life has never been a piece of cake or was it the case a long time, a very long time ago? I just cannot remember anymore. As far as I can recall, I have always lived a damn hectic life, wheeling and dealing and hustling every single day, hoping someday, somehow the God I pray might finally hear me cry and answer my prayers.

I had this baby when I was not even old enough to take care of my own self. The baby father must have had urgent matters at hands ‘cause he spilled, I wonder if he even kissed me goodbye. On second thought I just fucking wished he would die. Then I looked at this baby girl and wished for her a brilliant future, a life I had never lived, an existence I have never known. And yet, my baby girl grew up just like me, in that jungle they call “little Paris” and turned up to be a cute little lady. I made up my mind and stop cheating myself: there was nothing to expect from this land I have always known.

A friend talked me into e-weddings and one rainy Saturday afternoon I entered for the first time of my life a cyber café. I met Karl. He was German; he was sweet and ready to marry me as long as I could provide a few thousand euros. What I did.

We were engaged in a commercial relationship in which I was buying a passport for heaven and he was selling that dream to me for a few thousands of euros. Those few thousands of euros I spent my entire life saving, those few thousands euros which meant everything for me. They were my beginning and my end, and I gave them to that guy, craving for a new life, a fresh start, a better life.

I managed to get to Germany with my little girl which was not so little anymore if not in this motherly mind of mine. We spent a couple of years, the three of us, the fakest couple on earth. But this was cheap money to pay, you know, compare to what I thought was awaiting us. Then my baby girl started going to school, university was next, you cannot imagine how proud I was when she finally got her resident card. You can only guess, indeed.

For the first time since I came to this planet earth, I felt like God was looking at me with kind eyes, whispering I will never be in pain again. But that was just what I thought, which had nothing to see with what was waiting for me ahead.

The German fellow fell for me. Deep in love, at least that is what he said. Fell head over heal for me and was ready to marry me, and pay me back my cash, but on the condition I had to separate from my daughter. God can testify. There are things I can do, and there are things I cannot do. I lived a crazy life indeed and almost never had any reason to
laugh out loud. I have been treated no better than an animal, lowered my head as far as to touch the floor and God knows all I would have done to change my life…but parting with my daughter was not one of these things. You know, I do not get along every day with my baby as she does not always understand all the sacrifices I did for her, went through to promise to her a brighter future. But God, How I love this little girl! She is the only treasure I ever had, my slice of peace on this damn earth which never has been kind to me.

He stopped everything, gave me back my euros and kicked me out. It wasn’t long before the police caught me and flew me back to Ivory Coast, with the shame of the expatriate who failed to make it. At least, my daughter was saved. I had not spent a year in that country of mine when the war started again. I packed all I had and found a way to escape. Anywhere would have been fine, and I ended up in Libya…Another country which turned into a battlefield…

It has been a month since I arrived in Dubai. Anyone who requests it can basically get a visa and land in the Emirates. I came with all I had, the only thing that accompanied me all through my journeys, my quest of dignity and humanity: my hope.

So there you have it, dear. I am still standing; looking success in the eye. I’ll never stop until I get what I feel is mine. I am not leaving this place, until I can look at my daughter’s father, look at my German husband-not-to-be, look at all the people I met in my life and who made me feel as though I was nothing but trash, look at them straight in the eye and say: I, too, am a human being.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well. I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am from England and I arrived in Dubai a couple of days ago. I have organized a trip around Asia and the Emirate is the first step. I flew business from Heathrow by Emirates Airlines and I must say it was the best flight I have ever experienced. The steward and stewardesses were just amazingly kind, open and available. I ate as much as I could, drank more than I should and had the most fun of my life inside a plane. I did not even find time to watch the television but was surprised to see that they even had an African music channel on board. It was indeed that kind of wonderful experience that turns the sky into the best place on earth.

I arrived in Dubai and was mesmerized by the skyscrapers, the unique architecture, the food from all over the world, the diversity of the people and the facility with which the persons interact with you and help you out. I felt for Dubai, for the comfort of their hotel rooms, the high standard of their malls and the various activities you can do. I went and visited the desert and lost my camera. A little vendor of souvenirs selling his stuffs at the hotel entrance helped me, and the next day, I had my camera back. I can assure you that it would have hardly been the case in Europe, where I live. They say crime is seriously punished there in the emirates so most people won’t even dare. Thanks Allah. I really felt I could indeed settle and found a family.

Then I met that friend of my mom, a Cameroonian lady and she invited me to her place. She was living inside a one 12 meter squares room apartment that she was renting to 5 other persons. She was undocumented and had not seen her little girl she left in Cameroon since almost a decade. She was sad and was only working to pay for her right to stay in Dubai. The other women of her room had their own sad story but I felt even more appalled by the unbelievable story of that Ethiopian girl who was abandoned by her sister and sent back to Ethiopia by her man who happened to marry another girl. Really, that was one sad story. They also told me that a lot of strangers were chased out of Dubai by charters and were not even considered as proper human being, that the Philippines ladies would join forces and block all access to work to other immigrants from different countries whenever they could. That little Indians and Pakistanis would come here, dazzled by the lights of Dubai and the words of a con artist promising a brighter future to them and a decent work,` but would end up turned into slaves, working on this big construction sites which are the pride, the jewels of the oasis. They told me that the laws here were written exclusively for the Emiratis and thus, that no one would ever dare to mess around
with them without fear of retribution. I learnt many other stories, sad stories, ugly stories and it made me snap back to reality. I finally acknowledged that Dubai was a country and not a playground. It looked nice really, it looked attractive, it looked brilliant. Still, I discovered that Dubai was a country and not heaven. And this made all the difference.

As I was driving my way back to the airport, leaving this place I really felt for despite all the stories I heard, I saw that guy on a big board, staring at me. He looked so handsome and cool and open minded. I was told he was the heir to the throne of Dubai. That someday, he would rule over more than 2 million people and lead their destiny. I heard he was fond of writing and that he was a brilliant jockey. I wondered if he was aware of the fact that a huge task was awaiting him and I really felt sorry for the boy who might not be a jockey in the future and might even someday forget how to write basic lines. I stared at him and started dreaming. And I wished I could someday meet him and get to read one of his poetry and wish him luck in the dreadful task to come.

I wished for him to offer an even brighter future to the creek but also to care a little for all the immigrants who dare leave their country, home, friends and family, wishing that Dubai would treat them a little kind.

I am at the airport now, and heading to south East Asia. I carry the image of the jewel of the desert in mind and now I know, that the will prevail and impossible is nothing.

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