Dear Mr A. A. Gill,
I’m writing to you regarding your article on Dubai (published in April’s edition of Vanity Fair
On behalf of the many ordinary housewives and families living here, I’d like to point out that we were a demographic most poorly represented in your story (we weren’t even mentioned at all). So, I’d like to offer a few comments which might be of use to you for future articles on Dubai, should you ever be allowed back into the country.
You state quite wrongly that western expats are, ‘parasites and sycophants for cash,’ who are, ‘young, single, greedy, and insincere. None of them are very clever…. they live lives that revolve around drink and porn sex and pool parties and barbecues with a lot of hysterical laughing and theme nights, karaoke, and slobbery, regretful coupling.… these expats on the short-term make don’t expect to put down roots here, have children here, or grow old here.’
Clearly, you’ve fallen foul of that old journalistic phrase, ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.’
The vast majority of western expats are decent ‘married-with-children’ folk, and you only have to look at the number of private schools in Dubai to ascertain that. So, I must flatly contradict you. Thousands of western people have moved here, only to meet their spouses, have their children and happily put down roots.
The truth is that families love Dubai for a number of very good reasons. We can leave our handbags in public places without them being stolen. We can leave our cars unlocked and they won’t be driven off by joyriding/drug-taking illiterate thugs. If we forget a mobile phone in a taxi, it will be returned the same day by a polite and honest taxi driver. Why? Because zero tolerance works.
There is no sex or swearing on TV. We are mercifully free from East Enders, Jonathon Ross and Kate Garraway in the morning. Little Johnny will never be able to accidently access internet porn while doing his homework either (unless he’s bypassed the proxy server again). So hurrah for censorship and all it entails!
The amenities are marvellous. Our children play in beautifully landscaped public parks that are manned by uniformed staff. The loos are clean and fully functional. They have proper lavatory paper, doors on the cubicles and squeezy soap venders. Even better, there are no used condoms or syringes hidden in the sandpits, no graffiti on the slides or roundabouts (or anywhere). And, there are no glowering, granny-bashing hoodies (tongue-snogging their 10-year-old girlfriends between drags on their Superkings) to contend with.
There’s no such thing as ‘Adam and Steve.’ Our children’s’ classmates (all 15 of them) have, by and large, never known the pain of divorce or single-parenthood or the confusions a transplant, ‘modern’ family. Instead, they come from terribly nice, middle class, well-educated and conventional two-parent families. We can have the entire class over to tea and know that not one single child will forget to say ‘thank you’. We don’t need to hide the silver, worry about the cat being burned with cigarettes, or panic that the Porsche will be taken for an uninvited test-drive. Need I say more?
You talk about the terrible heat, the appalling humidity and never being able to spend any time outside. Next time you visit (and you will, because journalists – especially Scottish ones – never turn down freebies) it might be sensible to come at the right time of year. Just make sure it’s between mid-October and mid-March. During these months, the temperature is a steady and beautiful 25C.
Your rude comments about the Dubai World Cup and Meydan were simply made to shock. Our ladies (in general) are very well-dressed and wonderfully free from MacDonald’s muffin tops. It’s a fact that 99 percent of western women in Dubai have, and make use of, private gym memberships. Yet, you refer most unchivalrously to their ‘wobbly thighs in too-tight dresses’. I have just one word to say to you. And that word is… Aintree.
What’s wrong with Ski Dubai? I think Narnia is very pretty! Did you get short-changed in the Snow Park or something? I am yet to see a convincing sand-boarding and sun dome facility in Europe. Even the Eden Project in Cornwall, which is to be admired, is ever-so-slightly-dull-and-boring when compared to Dubai’s indoor ski-slope.
You correctly mentioned that there are a lot of empty buildings – reminiscent of the crash in 2008. But what you failed to mention is that we residents don’t mind seeing those empty buildings one bit. Every empty building represents the time of change – when Dubai had to drop its rents by at least half. We small people have never had so much negotiating power – and it feels good!
Your driver says he gets lost every day. I suggest he is either lying or stupid. The roads do change every few months or so, but they generally change for the better. To suggest Dubai’s road system is as elusive and confusing as the moving staircases at Hogwarts, is just plain silly.
‘Dubai suffers from giganticism’. Guilty as charged I’m afraid. But the world and his wife is happy to admit that the Burj Khalifa ( in all its erect and silver splendor) is a damn fine piece of architecture. So, I can only conclude that perhaps, Mr Gill, it is someone else who is suffering from the penis envy?
And on that note I must finish, as I’m already late for my yogalates class. I do hope you find my comments helpful. Indeed, please feel free to contact me for any advice when you are next in the neighbourhood. I know for a fact that DH would be delighted to show you around.
Finally, I’ve attached my very popular recipe for date and mango chutney – it’s a big hit at the Ladies’ Cross-stitch and Quilters Guild. And (so I’ve been told) it’s an excellent remedy for ailments of a delicate nature, which you may find useful. Two teaspoons at bedtime with a dram of single malt, should suffice…
Yours most hospitably,
Housewife in Dubai