I am in Dubai and I’m going through a crisis. Last night I sat down to dinner at Mango Tree, which has the most amazing views of the Burj Khalifa (seeing that a decent quarterback could’ve hit it with, say, a paper plane) and of course the fountain at the base of it that went off every half hour.
Like an overzealous citizen of a nomadic state, or the resident of an obscure country that just won gold at the Olympics, I stood up from my Pad Kew Pao every time the fountain went off. Hand straying dangerously close to heart, I cried watching those fountains play in the dusk of a Dubai sunset peeking out from between some of the most tall and extravagent buildings in the world.
I am here for a vacation that perhaps came too soon. I’m trying desperately to finish a dissertation from a place five thousand miles away from everything that would be helpful to finishing those final niggling paragraphs, or finding the sources for some of those annoying mysterious quotations that damn it all, I forgot to cite.
Dubai is a strange city. It’s a magical place of beauty, worship, laws and lawlessness. If you’re rich and white, you can get away with an awful lot here. Last night we played a game at the bar called “who in here is a hooker.” It was a disappointingly easy game. It’s 109 degrees outside and I’m looking at the Dubai Creek, a mosque, the Burj Khalifa, and more expensive sports cars than I care to count.
There’s something about human ingenuity that is beautiful. I mean, fifty years ago this place didn’t exist. People came and built it from nothing because they had the vision and the resources to see that this could be, and would be, one of the greatest cities in the world. And here I am, slaving away on a dissertation that I paid over 20,000$ for the privilege of writing because I believe in education and in those small, magical moments when you learn something you’ve never known before. Especially in a place as alien as the UAE, with a language andalphabet I’m not familiar with, and customs I hope to God I’m not trespassing, the magic of once again feeling like a child among adults is one that not enough people appreciate.
People came here to build something out of nothing, to prove that they could do it, and I’m faced with the task of figuring how I can make the world a more beautiful place. I don’t have oil or gold. In fact, my net worth would make Greece seem like a solid investment plan, but I’m creating a vision of making the world a more beautiful place. I create. I am almost done with a dissertation, and the world is my oyster. I see these tall buildings and the money that went into them and the money that is coming out of them and I dream of more beautiful things.