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Barely forty years ago, Abu Dhabi was a fishing village on the Arabian Gulf. Now the capital of the United Arab Emirates, its citizens are each worth $17 million, it holds major stakes in Western economies, and has money to burn. In this timely, revealing and evocative portrait of a global player, Jo Tatchell traces the emirate's dramatic development and the sometimes ruinous effect of extreme wealth on its people and their desert culture. And as its rulers fund another giant leap forward, she probes behind the official facade to examine whether this secretive and controlled society can realise its breathtaking plans to transform relations between East and West.
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Jo Tatchell is a journalist who writes on Middle Eastern culture for UK and US media including the Guardian. Her first book, NABEEL'S SONG, was published by Sceptre in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award.From Publishers Weekly:
A glittering emblem of global modernity carries a tinge of tribal clannishness and xenophobia in this revealing travelogue through the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Tatchell (The Poet of Baghdad), an English journalist who spent her youth in Abu Dhabi, compares the present city, with its skyscrapers, lavish malls, and Guggenheim branch, to the bedouin past it has all but obliterated. She finds that Abu Dhabi's 420,000 official citizens, with an average net worth of million in oil wealth, have traded their camels and tents for SUVs, condos, and glitzy, indolent jet-setting; surrounding them is a sea of exploited foreign guest workers, 80% of the population, who build and run the city while living in a stateless limbo. (There are secrets lurking behind the shopping and partying, she finds during a Kafkaesque quest to locate the national newspaper archive.) The author's teeming, sharply etched portrait introduces readers to tycoons, a wastrel playboy with a pet panther, a bored housewife trying to score bootleg liquor, avant-garde artists, nostalgic British expats, and a Lithuanian prostitute. Tatchell's keen powers of observation and personal connections enable her to convey the hidden reality of this mirage-like city.
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