Years from now, Dubai will be seen as the symbol of the age that’s drawing to a close: a massive white elephant in the desert, totally unsustainable in the era of peak oil—and totally embedded in denial while everything falls down around its ears. The Independent has published a magnificent expose of the Arabian Disneyland, underscoring the extent to which the whole place is (basically) a slave-state with medieval laws that imprisons immigrant workers and deports dissenters while degrading its environment to dangerous levels, particularly when the cash runs out.
Which is of course what’s happening now, as Dubai’s debt-crisis gives the lie to any notion that the global economy is on the path to recovery. The sad truth is that we pretty much sidestepped taking our medicine earlier this year, particularly when Obama put the same people in charge of the economy who had done so much to wreck it. Dubai is the accelerating sinkhole in our cozy illusions . . . . and as James Kunstler notes, civilizations build their most extreme monuments at the very moment of their collapse. The desert will ultimately do to Dubai what it did to Ozymandias, only the resultant poetry is unlikely to be anywhere near as good.