Tennis in Dubai, theater of the absurd?

Steve Clemons got a bit peeved at seeing tennis being played on top of the Burj Al Arab, the hotel I blogged about after visiting back in October. He notes:

But this match in Dubai makes my head spin. It’s certainly dramatic to play a game of tennis on a building’s top floor heliport in a small middle east country. But how can this kind of exhibition game do anything but inflame the passions of Middle East “have-nots” against the arrogance and indifference of the “haves” throughout the region?

Isn’t this kind of theatre just a bit over the top given the convulsions going on in that part of the world?

Just struck me as intensely out of touch with the “hearts and minds” challenges we have in that region. But maybe I’m missing something.

Yes I think you are missing something Steve. Pretty crazy indeed. The commenters rightly complain to Clemons, it is a pretty weird comment to make about Dubai, a center of outright debauchery in the Persian Gulf. But what “we” does he refer to when saying the “challenges we have in that region”. It’s a big ass region. Is ‘we’ US foreign interests? And Dubai is probably the most Western city in the region – hence the debauchery. As well as that the Middle East bases for everyone from CNN to Microsoft to Oracle to Reuters are based in Media and Internet Cities in Dubai.

Perhaps a better example would be the two artificial islands currently under construction, almost all sold to Western investors, or maybe the World, a network of islands, again almost all sold to Western investors. Or maybe the Burj Dubai, set to be the tallest building in the world – Dubai Marina, thousands of apartments, massive yachts, and yes you guessed it, almost all owned by the “haves”.

Yes the imported Pakistani and Indian construction workers earn about $120 per month for 288 hours work, in temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celsius, but a tennis match on top of the Burj is nothing compared to the Burj itself, where a room can cost up to $10,000 per night, and where Agassi had the pleasure to stay.

And kudos to the Irish manager of the Burj, or whoever came up with the idea, it was a great marketing coup.