By investing in Dubai, celebrities are giving tacit approval to a hideous society and its obscene values.
By George Patrick
Published October 02, 2008
Faced with rapidly disappearing oil reserves, Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates on the Persian Gulf, has decided to transform itself into one of the great tourist destinations of the world.
One of its strategies is to lure celebrities there. It's working. Already, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, and Colin Montgomerie have all built or are building exclusive new golf courses there.
Greg Norman, the Great White Shark, is building sixty-six luxury homes there. Donald Trump is going to build a hotel. Giorgio Armani will outfit apartments, while Karl Lagerfeld will build luxury homes. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have bought one of the artificial islands Dubai is constructing out into Gulf waters.
Roger Federer has made Dubai his second home. The Beckhams vacation there. Manchester United, the biggest soccer club in the world, has a training camp there.
The question is: What in God's name are they doing there? Dubai is a slave society.
Not officially, of course. Dubai outlawed slavery forty-five years ago. Prostitution, too, is supposedly illegal. But beneath the ultra-modern skyscrapers, the luxurious hotels and the glitzy twenty-first century technology lies a primeval morass of squalor and depravity.
Whatever the law may say, there are whole areas of Dubai City given over to dozens of brothels where ten thousand women from Eastern Europe, the Far East, and Sub-Saharan Africa are held as sex slaves.
In a country measuring only forty miles by forty miles and containing only one city, it is farcical to suggest that the brothels and the sex slaves have somehow escaped the notice of the Emir's government.
In his book, A Crime So Monstrous, journalist E. Benjamin Skinner points out that his $16 ticket to get into the Cyclone brothel actually bore the official stamp of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce.
Skinner interviewed many of the prostitutes, some of them in their early teens. Most of them, seeking to escape desperate poverty in their homelands, were offered the chance to be smuggled into Dubai with the promise of jobs as maids, etc. Then the snakeheads (people smugglers) sold them to brothels and kept their passports.
Now they were trapped and powerless in a nightmare world. Some Eastern European women were kept in line by threats to murder their families back home.
Other women smuggled into Dubai do get jobs working in households. Again, their employers keep their passports. Again, they are utterly in the power of men who rape and beat them and pay no wages.
Some Dubai married men keep foreign sex slaves in special apartments popularly known as "shag pads." If a desperate captive woman flees, the "owner" - in an echo of the "runaway slave" advertisements in pre-Civil War USA - will run an "absconding servant" advertisement in Dubai newspapers.
Foreign working men, if not exactly enslaved, are the next thing to it. The luxury hotels and apartments of Dubai where the celebrities live pampered lives are built by labourers (mostly from India) who are paid starvation wages - often months in arrears - amidst regular threats of violence.
Then there are the child slaves. Outside the city, there are farms where 6,000 boys, often kidnapped as babies, are held in bondage to serve as jockeys in the immensely popular camel races. They are frequently starved to keep their race weight down.
Protection for these grossly abused fellow humans is nonexistent. They don't seem to be viewed as humans at all. They are mere things to be used and discarded.
This, then, is the purulent society in which Angelina Jolie, Tiger Woods, Donald Trump et al. have chosen to invest their money and their reputations. By so doing they give tacit approval to a hideous society and its obscene values.
Has slavery (like torture and indefinite detention without trial) somehow become OK again? It's not that any of the celebrities mentioned are bad people. Most are probably fairly decent human beings. But we humans have a wonderful ability to avert our eyes from the inconvenient ugliness of life, especially when it conflicts with our own desires and interests.
The moral squalor at the heart of Dubai isn't exactly a secret. It's been well documented. A five minutes' Google of "Dubai" will reveal the truth. The celebs must surely know. Perhaps they tell themselves that, sadly, it's simply the harsh reality of the global free enterprise system.
Some of us make millions sinking putts and advertising Rolex watches; others are just pieces of meat to be sold, raped and rented out as semen receptacles. Sometimes the invisible hand in the marketplace is wielding a blackjack.
But what is happening in Dubai is surely so vile, so manifestly an affront to our dearest values, that one must ask again: What in God's name are they doing there?