x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai: The Making of a Megapolis: the hearts of those who built it

The former New York Times correspondent Pranay Gupte examines the vital role subcontinental expatriates have played in Dubai's development.

Dubai: The Making of 
a Megapolis
Pranay Gupte
Viking Penguin
Dh79
Dubai: The Making of a Megapolis Pranay Gupte Viking Penguin Dh79

As a former New York Times foreign correspondent, one might expect Pranay Gupte's latest book to be a critical analysis of Dubai's remarkable growth over the past three decades.

Gupte's chronicles are, however, generally benign and positive. The emirate's debts and the collapse of its property market are glossed over and largely skirted around, other than to say Dubai has bounced back from more severe setbacks in years gone by.

Instead, the author's main focus is on the vital role subcontinental expatriates have played in the city's development, emphasising the strong bonds that exist between the ruling Maktoum family and the Indian community.

Perhaps the most poignant passages are in the book's prologue, tellingly subtitled Their Desert Forever. Here he warns that despite the affinities between the Gulf and the subcontinent, as the task of nation building diminishes, the proliferation of non-Arab expats in Dubai may be nearing its conclusion. As unsettling as this might be, Gupte believes that many who consider Dubai home cannot count on this being the case forever.