United Arab Emirates
UAE - Dubai
Glad I read up on this country since its real color and personality is subtle. The Emirates is formed from 7 kingdoms sometime in the last 100 years, and is only swimming in its oil wealth since the mid-1950’s. It’s stewardship and investment of those oil monies is impressive and in direct contrast of what you hear about African countries and their squandering of their mineral wealth. It’s an odd and interesting study in contrasts - both areas colonialized by the West, hard-earned processes of independence, but two very different outcomes.
The Emirates is considered the safest city in the world to walk around at night. Due to the invisible but pervasive invisible hand of surveillance and harsh, unmerciful punishment that includes a lot of floggings. People obey the law, and stay out of trouble - it was only just a couple of years ago that alcohol was permitted even among Westerners. Incorporating Sharia law, a body of religious law, is based on the precepts of Islam (taken directly from wiki)and the sacred scriptures.
Floggings and lashings are common, for kissing in public if not married, verbal abuse even on social media, alcohol consumption if you are a muslim, etc…. It’s safe to assume all communications are being monitored and most actions filmed. It feels in some soft way like a well run household, where everyone knows the rules and the punishments are swift. Stoning is also an option they make use of from time to time. Homosexuality is a capital offense and sodomy can be punished with imprisonment of 14 years. At least unmarried couples can live together and drink alcohol - newly allowed since 2020.
The Wikipedia entry details the following - emirates only make up 15% of the population. Indians, from the subcontinent make up 30%, and it’s only a 3.5 hr plane ride from New Delhi. Expats and migrant labor for the hospitality and construction industries make up 70% of the population to serve the other 20%. Its economy is of the most diversified in the Gulf.
The Atlantis, where we are staying, is a $3b hotel finished in 2007, themed after the lost city of Atlantis. 1600 rooms, and the largest water park in the world. Set on the man-made Palms of sand dredged, blown, tamped to created a whole new area of Dubai. I’ve stayed in some nice hotels, some that claimed 3 or 4 or 5 stars, but here, the opulence is in every detail of architecture and service. In some ways, the service is so well done, the training so precise and its execution so consistent, you feel the same laws and codes of behavior carry thru throughout the hotel, that a vein of fear, subtle and nuanced, codify the efforts of individuals. Let’s just say you could get used to this, and it makes a lot of other hotels that stake a claim to good service look poorly executed in comparison.
https://www.atlantis.com/dubai. (Take a look, it’s cool).
Gigantic aquarium that anchors the whole hotel around fish and water (note the pun with ‘anchors’The waterpark is insane.
The water park is insane. World's largest they claim.
There are several things to note - mostly about the heat. The ocean is literally like 95 degrees. Not refreshing, so the 6 pools around the place help a great deal. It’s summer here, and temps are averaging 100 degrees during the day, and 95 at night. You can’t walk barefoot without burning the bottoms of your feets
On the Catskills side of things, the team did good and I’m looking forward to getting back and leading from the front - first man over the hill type of thing. We got a ton of stuff going on and there is really nothing that happen right now that would change the fact that we are a financially stable company, regardless of what macro recessionary winds are blowing this way. We have at least 6 houses under contract that we are working on, and 3 independent projects where we are being paid to build on of our homes on land purchased by the homeowner - 1 of them is a client that bought our very first or 2nd home in Ulster County back in 2011 or 2012. That’s always validating for sure, as are the resale prices our existing clients are getting when they sell these little jewels we build.
I would add pictures, but that always just turns into a huge debacle. But a good lesson and perspective I always keep -
I think it’s hard to argue my haircut and shave for 550 dirham proved worth every penny. My barber was a super nice guy with limited English from Uzbekistan, and worked in Russia, then somewhere, and now Dubai. I was still unshaven from the safari and the beginning of the trip so it felt good to let someone else do the heavy lift of cleaning me up.
Now off to play my son (Lucas Petersheim) some basketball in the 99 degree heat. I beat him yesterday, and he’s been pouting ever since, but it is true, my 3-part game rarely comes together as nicely as it did yesterday. I think George Clooney called it the ‘old man moves’ but done right, downright hard to defend.