Dubai. The Hot Spot…Where Adventurers play the world’s most dangerous games…Gold, Sex, Oil- and War
With a tagline like that, it’s easy to see why this book was hushed up…Conspiracy theories fly up whenever this book is mentioned. The expats who have been around for a while, my dad included, always wonder what happened…It’s said that the rights of the book were bought off by the Sheikh, and all copies were destroyed.
He couldn’t account for Amazon and eBay though 🙂
I got my hands on a copy a week ago. Fascinating stuff. Admittedly, it is written as an out-and-out thriller, and hyperbole is definitely in the mix, but my word. Moore goes in-depth into the environment that existed before Dubai became Dubai…he pens fascinating descriptions of an Emirate so ruthlessly devoted to commerce & expansion that many cultural concerns (wine, women, song, human rights) were buried (no pun intended). He paints a far more telling picture of Rashid than anyone has before- As a compassionate ruler, the true Father of his people, but also as a merchant at heart- a wily genius who understood that for the long-term prosperity of Dubai, certain compromises would have to be made. Smuggling, that most elusive of trades, is scrutinised; the industry of gold ‘re-export’ is depicted with such titillating detail that it rings of truth. An excerpt talking about gold smuggling to India follows:
He was venturing into a most dangerous international area in arming and acting as a combat funner for a gold-smuggling syndicate. If he, an American, should be captured in the act of firing on the Indian Coast Guard on the high seas, an international incident would be provoked and disavowed by the Ruler and all his advisers. Majid Jabir had made this clear to him. Up to now, the Dubai gold re-exporters had dropped their gold overboard when menaced by Indian Coast Guard patrol launches and tbhus no charges could be preferred against them. A new tactic was no being attempted. Only when it had been succesfully employed and Fitz excused from further personal participation in the area of smuggling could the Ruler afford to officially receive him again.
Moore tells of the British hand in shaping the destiny of the Gulf, and revels in their power struggle with the Americans. Sex is no bit player either, there is a continuous plot of exotic women and madcap romps through the ‘Creek’.
For anyone raised in the Middle East, or anyone fascinated with Dubai’s status as a powerhouse of commerce and trade, this book is a must-read. There is a certain pride in it as well, Moore does not take the hackneyed approach of a Westerner deriding the Arab way; there is always an undercurrent of deep admiration and marvel at the enterprise and daring of the Emiratis.
Robin Moore- Dubai