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Johann Hari reports The wide, smiling face of Sheikh Mohammed – the absolute ruler of Dubai – beams down on his creation.
His image is displayed on every other building, sandwiched between the more familiar corporate rictuses of Ronald Mc Donald and Colonel Sanders.
This is not where she thought her Dubai dream would end. At times, her old voice – witty and warm – breaks through.
He invited the world to come tax-free – and they came in their millions, swamping the local population, who now make up just 5 per cent of Dubai. Hidden in plain view There are three different Dubais, all swirling around each other. Some 300,000 men live piled up here, in a place whose name in Hindi means "City of Gold".
They named it after a local locust, the daba, who consumed everything before it.
The town was soon seized by the gunships of the British Empire, who held it by the throat as late as 1971.
They were largely illiterate nomads who spent their lives driving camels through the desert – yet now they had a vast pot of gold. Dubai only had a dribble of oil compared to neighbouring Abu Dhabi – so Sheikh Maktoum decided to use the revenues to build something that would last.
Israel used to boast it made the desert bloom; Sheikh Maktoum resolved to make the desert boom. Every evening, the hundreds of thousands of young men who build Dubai are bussed from their sites to a vast concrete wasteland an hour out of town, where they are quarantined away.