A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Road closed: a holiday in Dubai

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 13, 2008

I’ve been spending this chilly Sunday catching up on a few odds and ends (the desk in my salon is directly below my heater, so its the best place to be). My friend S, who lives in Dubai, came online mid-afternoon with some intriguing news.

Apparently tomorrow has been declared a public holiday in Dubai, thanks to President Bush’s visit. No, not to honor him – to protect him. The emirate will be closing so many roads, starting with Sheikh Zayed (the city’s main artery), which closes at six this evening, that maintaining normal working conditions was deemed impractical.

S lives on Sheikh Zayed itself. I’m not even sure if they will allow us out on the balconies of our apartment, S said to me on MSN.

I bet not. And what an interesting sign all these security precautions are. On the one hand, they are a sign of the power that Dubai’s ruler wields. And on the other hand, they are a sign of its limits. Dubai’s security officials must be deeply concerned about opposition to Bush’s visit – and their ability to keep him safe without resorting to a strong-arm fiat.

Not that most Dubai residents are complaining about the holiday, I imagine – even if they do have to stay indoors!

3 Responses to “Road closed: a holiday in Dubai”

  1. intlxpatr said

    The paper in Kuwait today described Bush’s visit here as “subdued” without any official parties or events to honor him. He got his only true welcome from the troops at Arifjan when he announced they were going to begin pulling troops out of Iraq.

  2. I read that this visit cost Dubai $100 million simply by the closing of the road and the holiday off. That is a large price tag for a Presidential visit.

  3. Hi KW – and welcome! I read that the direct costs were $12 million and the indirect costs something like $100 million. In any case, what a huge expense for … nothing, it seems. Subdued sounds like the right word for it, khalti.

    My friends said that it was a funny sort of holiday. They weren’t forbidden to go out, but moving around was so difficult, and so much was closed, that they stayed home – like an enforced sick day!

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