A Diamond in the Desert

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But in the global financial crisis, some, at least, of the wheels have come off the Emirati money machine. Dubai, reliant on the vulnerable industries of tourism, luxury retail, air travel, property and financial services, has been worst hit. Reports emerged of paralysed construction sites and expats abandoning their luxury cars at Dubai International airport. Scrutiny of human rights abuses endured by the huge workforce of migrant labourers has increased.

Even Abu Dhabi, cushioned by its oil reserves and less headlong ethos, has suffered. Flamboyant Dubai and the two stars of its history — the late Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum and his son, the current ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum — offer an easier subject. The dry dock made a fortune from shipping damaged in the Iran-Iraq war.

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Krane makes a conscientious inventory of the seedy side of Dubai: the prostitution and human trafficking; the lack of freedoms; the exploitation of cheap labour; the 20 per cent unemployment rate among Emirati citizens; the profligacy and dependence on cheap energy Emiratis consume more energy per capita than even Americans ; the links to money laundering and the nuclear black market. But Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as these books show, have both been built on such improbabilities. Available from Telegraph Books Love puzzles?

Get the best at Telegraph Puzzles. Books on Amazon. A collection of the best contributions and reports from the Telegraph focussing on the key events, decisions and moments in Churchill's life. This book tells the story of the men and women of Fighter Command who worked tirelessly in air bases scattered throughout Britain to thwart the Nazis.

The essential gift book for any pet lover - real-life tales of devoted dogs, rebellious cats and other unforgettable four-legged friends. This blueprint document, produced by the Executive Council, set out a quarter-century of coordinated development for the city and its surrounding areas: physically Abu Dhabi should grow into a city that is exemplary within the Arab region and the world. It will ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy and be inspired by ongoing access to the desert, sea and natural assets that are integral to our national identity, while building a global capital with its own rich cultural heritage.

It looks like a telephone directory, with page after page of detail on what, when and how the city will transform itself, from building heights and land use across the metropolitan domain to transport schemes and achieving social equilibrium. The government is bankrolling change on a scale never before seen in human history.

The timetable is precise. Step by step, Abu Dhabi is to become a terminus for culture and business, a centre for bankers, interior designers and artists, filmmakers and musicians leading the way in new technologies and sustainable living. There are even plans for a string of satellite cities along the newly built offshore islets, linking green quarters and public spaces, cultural precincts, aerial walkways and highways, tunnels and trams. In other schemes people talk of sky cities, high-rise needles with cloud systems generated from silver-nitrate mist, and Star Wars-like spherical cities in the desert.

These are the new ideals for living and by the rulers of Abu Dhabi want 3. A triumph of ambition over common sense? While the Caterpillars and ballast freighters broke ground on home soil, Abu Dhabi had also begun its expansion outwards, buying up strategic assets around the world to ensure its people are protected when the oil runs dry.

Sheikh Mansour has pulled back the curtain on the private wealth of the royals. The purchase of his stake in Barclays gave the public a first glimpse of the relationship between the ruling family and their money. It has shaken the tradition of understatement, a characteristic of Islamic humility and the Abu Dhabian tradition of circumspection. On the world stage, with the media free to comment as they please, journalists and bloggers are debating what the buy-in meant.

There were certain to be strings attached. It was the Abu Dhabian way. Business meant deeds done and favours returned, no questions asked. Everything always used to run on wasta, the influence one had over others, and baksheesh, the backhanders that made the system flow with willingness and goodwill.

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My parents received gifts regularly from staff returning after bi-annual leave to Egypt, Syria, Jordan, India and Sri Lanka. They appreciated there had to be a little give-and-take—on the advice of a colleague my father had taken an expensive gold Rolex, bought by the company, to a sheikh with whom they were seeking to curry favour.

My mother was lavished with free produce and never a fil accepted in payment. Where the general oiling of the wheels and outright bribery and blackmail began and ended, no one was ever sure. Indebtedness was the custom. Could urban planners and big foreign-investment deals ever really unpick such old habits? It was not whether the urban planning of was achievable but whether the government was ready to permit its society the kind of freedoms necessary to allow artistic culture to flourish.

It was all very well buying up cultural equity but what did the government intend to do with it? It seemed a risky undertaking for such a small country, without experience of or passion for the arts, marked by well-known limitations on free speech, religious conservatism and social prudence. Creative expression had never attracted much attention. It was not easy to imagine a Renoir, a Tracey Emin or even a Dickens, all chroniclers of social truth, carving out a career in Abu Dhabi.

The highest-profile artists were those who painted straightforward portraits of the royal family, prize falcons and horses. As for the rest of the world, what kind of values could it expect Abu Dhabi to bring with it? Were the ways of the desert coming west, or was a new hybrid personality reflecting a multicultural city?

I leave Customs with my bland grey wheelie suitcase. Diminutive Asian men scurry around, nodding, eager to pull it along for me.


Take bag, madam. A taxi veers across the road and screams to a halt in front of me. The door flings open and a Pakistani man, in salwar khameez, jumps out, lifts my case into the open boot and guides me towards the door in one fluid movement.


Movers List. LOG IN. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language. There is a snapshot of the three men standing at Birkat al Mauz, a picturesque village in the interior of Oman, like three elderly tourists at the gates of history. Or rather he was. Rugby union.

An apartment, yani. I will show you. He grins at me in the rear-view mirror with huge yellow tombstone teeth. His eyes are wide and shining.

A DIAMOND IN THE DESERT by Kathryn Fitzmaurice | Kirkus Reviews

Unusually long, his hair has been stained red and curls over his Nehru collar. We go town now. We go there. First time in Abu Dhabi?

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I give you my card. You need taxi, you call me. I have many perfumes. I love perfume. I will him to keep his eyes on the road.

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For Tetsu, baseball is so much more than just a game On December 6, , Tetsu is a twelve-year-old California boy who loves baseball. On December 7, , everything changes. The bombing of Pearl Harbor means Tetsu's Japanese-American family. About A Diamond in the Desert. Twelve-year-old Tetsu eats, sleeps and breathes baseball. It's all he ever thinks about. But after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

It is hard to see the scrub beyond the spheres of light as we bowl along. The many lanes of traffic have been fenced off and lined with evenly planted rows of palms. They used to do this to stop sand drifts from building up on the road. Porsche Cayennes, Range Rovers, Nissan Patrols and blacked-out Mercedes weave erratically between each other like giant slalom skiers.

Foolhardy beige-and-white taxis hunt each other down with their horns. Almost every vehicle is immaculate, glinting, predatory beneath the streetlights. Holy place. Zayed buried there. It took ten years and 2 billion dirhams to build, and he died before it was completed. Largest Persian carpet in the world. You should go. Christians can go and look. Women can go and look. Everyone can see inside it. In Abu Dhabi it is OK.

They want you to know about it. Countless domes and minarets rise into the night sky. We hit the downtown traffic. Zayed may have passed away, but on the streets he is still very much alive. Images of him, revered as the father of the city, are everywhere. His people cannot quite let go, it seems, and he reigns on, credited with taking the poor, forgotten sheikhdom and caretaking its growth into a peaceful, powerful nation state. The whole place is even more brightly lit close up than it was from the sky.

A couple of decades ago, all this neon would have crashed the struggling power grid.

LNF: Diamond of the Desert

He smiles and loops round along the eastern stretch of the Corniche. The Al Raha Beach construction project has reclaimed 5 million square metres of coastline to create a beachfront suburb in the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway. On a nearby billboard a man in loose white shirt and trousers balances a child on his knee with an apartment complex behind him. Ahead of us traffic inches along. Many, many cars in Abu Dhabi and nowhere to park.

The man has a car, the woman has a car.