The UAE turns 39

I'm in Dubai for work this week and my visit here has just happened to coincide with National UAE Day, the Emirates' 39th birthday. The locals  have really gotten into the festivities.

Patriotic window display in Bur Dubai

The recession that hit Dubai in 2008 seems to have somewhat receded. There's still a lot of stalled projects and the economy isn't what it used to be. But people aren't panicking anymore that the whole thing is going to come tumbling down; there's a sense of relief and even optimism. 

The picture above is of a vehicle decked out for the festivities--someone has been doing great business in applying heart-and-start-burst decorated decals of Sheikh Khalifa, Maktoum and company. Last night, Dubai's main beach-front drag was full of kids in cars like this. The kid leaning out the window of this vehicle is spraying my taxi with silly string.

 

And finally, the Dubai skyline from the water. The impossible and rather stunning building on the left is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world. Apparently it was quickly renamed Burj Khalifa after Sheikh Khalifa of Abu Dhabi gave Dubai a $10 billion bail-out. Someone at dinner last night told me it cost $30 million just to change all the shop and street signs on which the original name (Burj Dubai) had already been put. 

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.