An Open Letter to Johann Hari of the Independent

This is an open letter to Mr Johann Hari in response to his article The Dark Side of Dubai, published in The Independent, Tuesday April 7, 2009, in which he describes his recent misadventures and negative impressions of Dubai, its policies, its politics and its people.

Sadly, I’m sure many of the stories you recount in your article are true, Mr. Hari.

Even more sad is the fact that they are not only true of Dubai, but of the world as a whole.

Just as photographs of the Burj Dubai being hit by lightening are the perfect metaphor for the Love-to-Hate Dubai Debate, so is Dubai a metaphor for all that is good and evil in the world: for the greatness that can be achieved when one dreams “big,” as well as for the multitude of injustices and inequities that exist everywhere, not just in this tiny emirate in the Arabian Gulf.

As I have said repeatedly in this blog, clearly there is something wrong with a global system in which 10 per cent of the population (in which I would include  you, Mr. Hari, myself, and anyone who has the wherewithal to read this), enjoys 90 per cent of the wealth.

Is Dubai alone in abusing the disadvantaged? I think not.

Human history is replete with tragic examples of how the rich get richer at the expense of the poor, and how the powerful get more powerful at the expense the weak.

Does this make it acceptable? Obviously not. Unfortunately, in many ways, we are not a particularly noble species.

No one should have to live in a car in parking lot, let alone amidst sewage, sickness and despair. No one should be unfairly imprisoned. No one should have to endure poverty, starvation or torture. No one should suffer to enable the pleasures of others.

Not in Dubai, not in London, not in New York, not in Toronto or Sydney, Buenos Aires, Lima, Ankara, Anchorage, Timbuktu or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

Not in Africa, not in Asia, not in the Americas. Not anywhere.

Surely you have noticed that the ills you describe in your article are not exclusive to Dubai, Mr. Hari? These are worldwide problems, as are ignorance, greed, and turning a blind eye.

Everyone should have equal rights. Everyone should enjoy healthy food, clean water and shelter. Everyone should have access to affordable healthcare. Everyone should be treated humanely, with dignity and compassion. Etceteras.

Mr. Hari, I would like to believe that your intentions are good.

However, sensationalistic, inflammatory and obviously biased accounts such as yours do little to resolve the problems of the world.

It’s easy to criticize, to wax long and vitriolic about all things evil. The challenge lies in actually doing something about them.

And plenty of people are doing things Mr. Hari, here in Dubai and elsewhere. It seems you didn’t take the time to speak to any of them… That’s a shame, because balance dictates that a journalist should give at least some measure to those things that don’t necessarily fit with his or her preconceived ideas.

More often than not, we find that which we seek. I would suggest you came to Dubai looking for something rotten, and lo and behold you found it!

Although, to be fair, at least you had the initiative to come and take a look around, unlike Ms Farelly of the Sydney Morning Herald who chose to "slag" Dubai from afar.

Dubai is not a perfect place. No place is. We are imperfect. Our world is imperfect.

However, I have a long list of people and organizations in Dubai and around the world that are working hard to make our home (and by that I mean Dubai as well as this planet) a better place to be. I don’t think it will ever be perfect. But it can be better. 

If you are truly interested in building a more positive world, by eliminating modern-day slavery for example (instead of expending so much energy on tearing things down), I would be happy to point you in the right direction.

If we really want to change the world, we must do as Gandhi suggested and: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Those of us who are not a part of the solution are part of the problem. We all share responsibility for the ills of the world, wherever they they are, and wherever we are.

Finally, if you would be so kind as to send me Karen Andrews’ coordinates, and will personally try to find her and do something to help her. You can reach me at susan@amazingwomenrock.com

Related links:

Open Dubai’s Burj Khalifa

Dubai Frozen In Time (But Likely Not For Long)

From Top Of Burj Dubai Spire – SCARY!!

The Trailer, A Creative Concept Well Executed

Little Behind Schedule, But Oh-So-Spectacular On Video

Metaphor For Love To Hate Dubai Debate

How High is
High in Dubai?

Towers: Who’s On Top And Who’s Not

Blame It On Dubai?

Ground in Dubai, and Taking Baby Steps