Daniel was arrested and taken away on the day of their eviction. "He told me he was put in a cell with another debtor, a Sri Lankan guy who was only 27, who said he couldn't face the shame to his family. I have to last nine months until he's out, somehow." Looking away, almost paralysed with embarrassment, she asks if I could buy her a meal. All over the city, there are maxed-out expats sleeping secretly in the sand-dunes or the airport or in their cars."The thing you have to understand about Dubai is – nothing is what it seems," Karen says at last. Tumbleweed Thirty years ago, almost all of contemporary Dubai was desert, inhabited only by cactuses and tumbleweed and scorpions.Daniel woke up and the boy had swallowed razor-blades. But downtown there are traces of the town that once was, buried amidst the metal and glass.He banged for help, but nobody came, and the boy died in front of him."Karen managed to beg from her friends for a few weeks, "but it was so humiliating. In the dusty fort of the Dubai Museum, a sanitised version of this story is told.In the mid-18th century, a small village was built here, in the lower Persian Gulf, where people would dive for pearls off the coast.It soon began to accumulate a cosmopolitan population washing up from Persia, the Indian subcontinent, and other Arab countries, all hoping to make their fortune.
And there he stands on the tallest building in the world – a skinny spike, jabbing farther into the sky than any other human construction in history.The town was soon seized by the gunships of the British Empire, who held it by the throat as late as 1971.As they scuttled away, Dubai decided to ally with the six surrounding states and make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging.