When I landed in Dubai (it’s pronounced as dubaayy) for the first time, I had some prejudices about the place. Having seen the Mumbai life, especially how the poor accommodate themselves in shanties, I had high hopes of the living standard of Dubai. I found out that Mumbai and Dubai are just the same. The rich enjoy it where the poor has to fight it out. There are labour camps, like our Slum shanties, there are Villas which accommodate as many as 40 people in two rooms and one bathroom, sleeping on bunker beds etc. The world know about Dubai as a glittering, shimmering city that has all the world-class facilities, but those who build the city, the workforce is not at all seeing Dubai that way.
Dubai has the best infrastructure I ever saw. Their road network is something to envy. Straight, wide and even road on which vehicles zoom past at 160 KM! Since it was desert, they don’t have any problem in building those straight-line roads. One can see the roads ending in horizon. 4 to 6 lane express ways, interchanges to take to another road, round-abouts at junctions and Radars to scan busy roads for speeding vehicles. The legal speed limit is 120KM, but these drivers know where are the cameras, and they slow down when it is near.
The public transport medium is the Buses. Road Transport Authority (RTA – www.rta.ae) is the authority and has air conditioned buses on almost all roads. But the problem is one can’t trust these bus service alone. During rush-hour traffic, none of these ply on time. One to 1 ½ hour delays are common. So the advice is start early for your appointments if you plan to go by bus. Taxis are also available, but just like buses, takes lot of time in traffic jam. Walking is the best and fast way if your destination is close-by.
The roads are swept everyday with a machine equipped vehicle, road signs washed by manual labours, every corner there are dust bins, one has to say Dubai is a clean city.
What they lack is Public comfort stations. You can’t find rest rooms even in busy bus stations. Example Bur Dubai, Satwa.
In Dubai, it is easy to find a job if one has little talent, can speak English and / or Hindi. Even the Arabic people speak accented Hindi. It is the accommodation is what the biggest hurdle. As I mentioned in the beginning, people live in very poor conditions, but to get even that you have to pay a kings ransom. Most of the people who works in Dubai take a home in Shrjah, Ajman (the neighbouring emirates), where rents are cheaper. And they travel to Dubai. Due to this, the 20-25 KM distance of Dubai Sharjah is covered by 2 hours!
To summarise, Dubai has all that you see in magazines, films and ads. But it has an underbelly, a very dark one. Where people live in horrible conditions, among prostitution, drugs etc. They just hang on here just for the money Dubai can offer. They all live on one dream. That of one day having enough money and settling down at their own village. That’s the driving force behind them.