Sunday, April 13, 2008

where it's gone

Crow here. You'll have to excuse my little nephew Wrendall but he's had a bit of a shock recently and was only able to describe the essentials of what he'd learned before having to return to the nest. His parents are now stuffing his little beak with worms, insects and other goodies until he recovers.

It seems Wrendall, who is a fine little fellow and a credit to investigatory intentions of the highest order, tried to swallow something larger than his crop could accomodate. As you'll recall, we've been discussing financial shenanigans and currency manipulation in recent weeks. My young nephew decided to see if he could find where on earth the money that's disappeared from your bank accounts, home values and general purchasing power has actually gone. Well, it makes sense that if it exists (which is something I still wonder about but will leave for now) and if you once had it and now don't, it must be somewhere.

Where do the tycoons and CEO's go once they've grabbed as much as they can for themselves? Have you heard of Dubai? I'm sure you have but it's truly outrageous what's going on there and very little news reaches us. After all, it's not our business in any sense of the word's meaning.

"50 skyscrapers rise above the desert city, where thousands of cranes work on $200 billion of real estate projects, according to HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe's largest bank. Sprawling to the right are the palace, gardens and stables of the emirate's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al- Maktoum, his wives and children.

"In a ditch near the Giorgio Armani-designed hotel, construction worker Omkar Singh leans on a shovel and wipes sweat from his brow. Singh, 24, went into debt to pay 60,000 rupees ($1,500) -- more than six months of earnings, including overtime -- to an agent to get to Dubai from India. The agent promised eight-hour workdays. Singh says he works at least 10-hour shifts, six days a week. ``I was taken for a ride,'' he says."

The amount and type of construction designed and implemented for the wealthy and built by men like Omkar who has a home and a faraway family to feed is one of the main places your money has gone. Like thousands of others from poorer nations, his passport has been confiscated until he's completed the contract he signed. This is the essence of what's happening in this tiny desert principality on the Straits of Hormuz (as well as in Saudi Arabia itself). There are entire buildings that rotate so everyone gets a changing view; an underwater hotel is being built so you can sleep with the fishes in a real and not mafia metaphorical sense; islands in the shapes of palm trees have beautiful houses and marinas for those who can afford to pay. Under construction and already finished are more islands designed in the configuration of world land masses - I think David Beckham bought England.

The world's tallest building, the Dubai Burj (Tower), at 2300 feet will be ready for occupation next year. It will be 160 stories tall compared to NY's former World Trade Center at 110 stories each.

Millionaires are welcome to live in the country (but not to become citizens) so long as they don't run out of money. You can see why the average tycoon might want to make sure he has more than enough in order to keep on affording the accommodations and entertainments in perpetuity.

The thing that really shook up my little friend Wrendall, though, was hearing that Prince al-Walid bin Talal who owns London's Savoy Hotel is planning an even bigger skyscraper in Saudi Arabia. On a clear day the view from the top will take in the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian Ocean if you have a head for heights. It will be 1 mile high - so tall that helicopters will have to do the major lifting of materials and workers. Sounds scary and that's what's done in poor little Wrendall for the moment. Maybe the rest of you should be happy that your money is being spent on something so impressive as another giant dildo - because you are getting screwed. Me? I'm off to find some worms for my nephew.


Suzi Riot said...

That Wrendall is a smart little fellow for following that particular trail.

Each time I stand at the gas pump, watching my meager livelihood flow away one gallon at a time, I'll think fondly of the giant dildo towering in the hot air above the gold-paved streets of Dubai.

Seraphine said...

I love Wrendall's shoes.
I'm glad they aren't alligator shoes. Alligator shoes should be reserved for the very rich, like scarlet letters or obscenely tall towers.
I'd hate for the super rich to be anonymous because they are great role models for the rest of the world.
Best wishes to Wrendall for a speedy recovery, so he can go back to making crop circles.
I would be honored to walk in his shoes.

CDP said...

Wrendall did a better job covering Dubai and the UAE than the Today show did last year; their story could not have been more fawning and positive. Perhaps Wrendall could replace Natalie Morales.

Gary said...

Maybe we should all get together and see if we can buy one of the World Islands - perhaps Haiti or the Congo are still available within our price range.

The big question for humanity today:

"Dubai or not Dubai? That is the question."

Is Wrendall yours? He is wonderful.

fairlane said...

Looks like you killed two birds with one stone here, good work.

(I'm passing on cliches).

grannyfiddler said...

Wrendall doesn't even mention the indoor ski hill in Dubai.... but maybe they don't let birds in...

Dubai is getting a reputation for recruiting cheap labor on the international market, then taking the passports away from 'migrant' workers till they have fulfilled their contracts. essentially, temporary slave labor.... and workers' rights...? well, let's not go there.

at a biofuels conference in our little northern alberta town several years ago, i had the pleasure of being hostess to a guest speaker - a brilliant engineer who specializes in nanotechnology. he has made many trips to Dubai. among other fascinating things, he told me cars are left idling constantly there... which astonished me. i'd always thought northerners were unique in that bad habit, wanting a nice warm SUV to hop into on a frigid winter's day. but, of course, it's the reverse problem there.... idling with the air conditioning on keeps one's car from becoming unbearably hot in the desert sun. there's not a lot of shade. and they do it for the same reason it's done here. wallowing in wealth, we have more money than good sense.

susan said...

How nice to come home after a day that was so busy I couldn't even check my email and find six comments to Crow's latest effort.

suzi - It's really a shame more Americans don't know about the world's largest gated community. It makes me very sad to think how we're all being abused by the greedy.

sera - Yeah, I always thought alligators looked better wearing their own shoes and I have an idea for exactly where the top of that tower should go.

cdp - Wrendall is already feeling much better and is updating his resume. Good idea!

gary - Our island might be a bit crowded but we'd all be friends together and could give those jerks something to think about.

and no, that's another Rudi Herzlmeier. If he were one of mine I might be earning a living for painting.

fairlane - There's more stones where that one came from. The inspector is diligent.

gfid - You made some excellent points and thanks for taking the time to do so. Wrendall forgot his penguin disguise and so wasn't able to see the indoor skiing facility.

Most of the building contractors working in Iraq are also suffering the same way and were hired by the same contractors/companies.

People living in the vicinity of Las Vegas do the same thing and I've heard they do drive-through everything - including church and funeral viewings! This is a sick culture.

Zee said...

where was the tower of Babel build - near by?

Randal Graves said...

It seems the entire world can be boiled down to a game of "I see your schwartz is as big as mine!"

Anonymous said...

Your little birdy has much to say about what's happening in Dubai. I hope for his sake and ours that some nasty man from the CIA, FBI, NSA or your friendly neighborhood Infraguard member doesn't stop by his nest to examine his wings.

Ingrid said...

well, I knew people like Omkar..I lived in Saudi Arabia for a few years.. AND outside a compound I might add. I saw the ,what, 60 minutes ep on Dubai.. how insane it looks. I am thinking of all the waste and garbage that's gotta go somewhere.. and never you mind the eco systems being uprooted, on and off land..


susan said...

zee - You're right! I never even thought of that but it's true.

randal - I always suspected bigger doesn't mean better.. if I get your drift.

spartacus - He's a speedy little bird and has been taught to avoid nets.

ingrid - That must have been a very interesting experience. Was it because of a job? Between the human rights issues and the pollution these people have a lot to answer for.

lindsaylobe said...

I think it’s all already been said~ Where money is simply no object it tends to be spent on such extraordinary projects and towers.
Gary’s go the right idea.
Best wishes

Scarlet W. Blue said...

"Wrendall." That's good.

So, let's say we wanted to do something fun, like drop something on Dubai. Is there ever a time when all the poor people are out of the "good" part of town and the millionaires are all there together, partying it up? Because I have a really fun idea....