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Gilded Cage

Syed Ali

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In less than two decades, Dubai has transformed itself from an obscure Gulf emirate into a global center for business, tourism, and luxury living. It is a fascinating case study in light-speed urban development, hyperconsumerism, massive immigration, and vertiginous inequality. Its rulers have succeeded in making Dubai into a worldwide brand, publicizing its astonishing hotels and leisure opportunities while at the same time successfully downplaying its complex policies towards guest workers and suppression of dissent.

In this enormously readable book, Syed Ali delves beneath the dazzling surface to analyze how—and at what cost—Dubai has achieved such success. Ali brings alive a society rigidly divided between expatriate Westerners living self-indulgent lifestyles on short-term work visas, native Emiratis who are largely passive observers and beneficiaries of what Dubai has become, and workers from the developing world who provide the manual labor and domestic service needed to keep the emirate running, often at great personal cost.

Syed Ali currently teaches at Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY.

"At last, a comprehensive expose of the economic and sexual exploitation that erected this utopia of greed.  Syed Ali has seen the future in Dubai and it doesn't work." - Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums

Dubai: Gilded Cage scratches the glossy surface of fantastical construction projects and conspicuous consumption to examine the paradoxes and contradictions of Dubai society.’ — Hugh Tomlinson, The Times

‘Ali argues that Dubai is a social experiment…in this fascinating study’ — PD Smith, The Guardian

‘A probing insight into the transience of expatriate life in Dubai…This is an interesting read.’ — Traveller Magazine

'The book provides an interesting approach to the emirate's daily life, which is very useful, both for scholars working on the topic and for anyone with an intention to travel to the region.' — Marta Saldana Martin, International Affairs

“[An] enormously readable book.”—Indian Business Journal
ISBN: 9780300152173
Publication Date: June 1, 2010
360 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
20 illus.