So, the Dubai Borse, their stock exchange, showed a very impressive rebound on Thursday. It is a nice feeling to be proven right. Anyway, it is not just because I myself happen to have some investments going here in Dubai. I’m also thinking globally!. Dubai is an anomaly, no matter what standard you apply.
In the world of today, one very important factor is what has been called the “clash of civilizations”. And here one major aspect is the interaction between the Islamic world and the West. Of course, these two are in close and permanent contact in various places, not just in Dubai. Paris, London, Berlin, Brussels, and Amsterdam are now multicultural cities with huge Muslim minorities. But the story is the same everywhere: The Muslims are the poor immigrants, who come not because they love the Western way of life – but only for economic reasons. They are basically migrants moving from poor countries to rich ones. But then they mostly do stay poor, relatively speaking, even the generations that have been born and raised in the West – often they are in fact less wealthy than their migrating parents and grandparents.
I’m not blaming either side for this situation, but I do wonder about the consequences. In the West it is normal to live with Muslims that form the economic underclass. (The only exception is, for now, the USA, which mostly for geographic reasons, has experienced a completely different Muslim immigration than Western Europe. There Islamic immigrants are doing remarkably well in economic terms.) But think of the psychological effect that this has: The Muslims are always the poor ones, and the Westerners always the rich people, and very often they are less than happy about their Muslim immigrants. And yes, it is always the Islamic side that does the migrating.
Dubai is writing a completely different story. First of all, it is very visibly rich. But what matters most: Here the Muslims, the Arabs are the hosts and and others are their guests. So the roles are completely reversed, though not in every respect: Here in Dubai, the Westerners and the Arabs are both wealthy. So they encounter each other on eye-level – and this happens on a very large scale. Nowhere else in the world do we have this. Westerners, however, travel a lot to the Islamic world: Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia are very popular destinations in the Mediterranean, then there is Indonesia, which is also a mostly Islamic country and a touristic hot spot. But the Westerners are always the rich tourists, while the Muslims are waiters, shop assistants – or even, quite literally, beggars in the street.
In Dubai East and West meet as equals and in harmony. (Yes, in harmony. Of course, it isn’t a perfect harmony, but just compare it with certain other places where Americans chose to visit the Islamic world, like Iraq or Afghanistan! Dubai is a functioning, wealthy state, and even if you are not fond of it, you will have to admit that being here is basically a very pleasant experience, because the standard of living is as high as in Switzerland. You can’t say that about Morocco or Egypt!)
In Dubai, Westerners and Arabs learn about each other – while doing business, not at a bazaar, but wearing suits, in board rooms. Here they learn to trust each other. This makes Dubai one of the most valuable places on Earth.