Some of the 300 man-made islands off the coast of Dubai.
Some of the 300 man-made islands off the coast of Dubai. Getty Images
Land in just about any Middle Eastern airport, take a cab into the city and along the road you see billboards advertising a project in Dubai called "The World." What they're doing is actually building artificial islands off the coast in the shape of the countries in the world. You want Greenland, they've built Greenland... the cheapest is Bahrain, according to this piece by Eric Weiner.
Dubai is, of course, the home of Dubai Ports World, the company at the center of the ports controversy, which doesn't seem to be going away. Republicans are planning legislation to block that deal.
But back to the city itself, the urban legend goes that there are more construction cranes in Dubai than in any other place in the world. NPR's Ivan Watson had a piece on this morning on the surreal scope of the city, and the underclass that has built it.
Bonus: Ivan mentions one of the most notorious nightclubs in the city where prostitution is rampant. The name of the nightclub is "The Cyclone" (Google it and it shows up first at hangover.com, then worldsexguide.org... ah, progress.) and Ivan writes, "FYI... the going rate for a hooker in Dubai is 1000 dirhams, a little less then 300 bucks. Of course most of that ends up going to the traffickers who get the girls their visas."
Bonus Bonus: Dubai is also the place where Jacko mistook what gender he was supposed to be when using the bathroom last fall.