Afghan Diary

Afghan Diary


THE road to Kabul passes through Dubai, which is one of the few cities in the world with two direct flights a day to Afghanistan’s capital city.
Dubai is living proof that humans can colonise Mars and live there quite comfortably.

For all practical purposes, people shouldn’t be living in Dubai. There is no fresh water there and no significant vegetation, and the climate is generally unfriendly to most known life forms.

Yet Dubai has developed into one of the most prosperous cities in the Middle East. With a population of around 3.5 million, the city is a thriving metropolis that had robust growth over many years until the recent economic crisis. To see Dubai firsthand is to realise Mars could be next.

What’s even more interesting is that, contrary to common perceptions, Dubai has no oil. What little it did have was pumped and sold some years back. Instead, Dubai’s economy has succeeded on the niche oil-related markets of its more petroleum-rich neighbours in the United Arab Emirates and beyond. It is the trading entrepot for the region. More recently, it has developed a booming property market for luxury homes as well as a nascent tourism industry.

Only about 20 percent of the city’s residents are native to Dubai. The rest of the population comes from all over the Middle East and Asia. In fact, the Post has learned that around half of the population of the Philippines actually lives in Dubai. And why not! The traditionally conservative Muslim society is quite tolerant of non-Islamic establishments, such as bars and restaurants that offer alcoholic beverages. Who better to serve martinis and margaritas in Dubai’s pubs than devout Catholics from Manila?

Dubai is also famous for having the Arabian peninsula’s only ski resort. Ski Dubai is located inside the Mall of the Emirates and regularly draws standing-room only crowds to enjoy the wonders of snowboarding, tobogganing and the like.

If you go there now, you can take advantage of the three-in-one Mammoth Fun Pass, which includes a Ski Dubai Super Pass, a ticket to Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and a 100-dinar Magic Planet Swipe Card. How cool is that!

And if you wonder whether snow-skiing crosses cultures, just ask the Muslim moms, fully veiled and dressed head-to-toe in the black down parkas made available to customers to cope with the cold, who chase their kids around to make sure they are safe as they enjoy a romp in the snow.

Once the war in Afghanistan is sorted out, these kids will be ready for the real thing in the Hindu Kush.

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