In my recent trip around the world I came upon what, following Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency, appears to be the future of America: Dubai.
Trump has pledged to rebuild America’s infrastructure, spending a mind boggling 1 trillion dollars. In Dubai, no matter where you stay, it will have been built within the last 6 months, and another skyscraper will be under construction right next door. Dubai is the town that Donald Trump would have built if only he had the money. Trump is, of course, a real estate developer, and Dubai is a developer’s fantasy city.
In Dubai, as in the Donald’s real estate developments, Everything is huge and glossy, a monument to conspicuous consumption. As in both Donald Land and Dubai, more is more. Like Trump, Dubai has no interest in nuance, subtlety, details, or anything but the loudest and brashest possible display of wealth.
The workforce in Dubai is entirely imported, which might seem to violate Trump’s principles. He generally believes that only corn fed Americans should get jobs in America, with the notable exception of when the Donald has run out of wives, and needs to import a hot model babe from Eastern Europe. But while Dubai relies almost entirely on imported labor, they make up for it by keeping all those construction workers out of sight in labor camps in the middle of the desert. And they’re discouraged from coming to the glossy malls which they have built.
In Dubai, hotels have pictures of the ruler, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who rules with absolute, but benevolent authority, much as Trump intends to do. Right now, only a few hotel’s in America bear Donald’s name, but rumor has it that Donald will require that his picture be prominently posted in all public spaces. And with a Republican Senate and Republican house, as well as the right to fill the existing and pivotal supreme court vacancy, Trump’s will will be done.
Both the Sheik and the Donald like really big stuff; Dubai Mall is the world’s biggest mall, and it’s almost entirely upscale stores, a much bigger version of Trump Towers. The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, is on one end of Dubai Mall. At one time the Donald had plans to build the world’s tallest building, Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, but he had to settle for making it the 4th tallest building in America.
Despite the fact that Dubai is on the other side of the world, it is basically an American city: many of the stores are American, English is spoken everywhere, and, while officially Islamic, it’s an extremely tolerant place. Of course, Trump has no truck with either tolerance or Islam, but Sheik Mohammed makes up for the tolerance by making sure that no one who wasn’t born in Dubai has any real power. Or, to be more exact, that no one born outside his own family has real power. And the Donald can respect that.