Today I ran into two German guys who run an art gallery in an neighborhood mostly full of car repair shops here in Dubai. We got to talking about what a strange place this is, being new and all, and seemingly dedicated to Futurism and Progress. There’s a blind faith in development at all costs. These guys are interested in the esthetic of industrial fixtures and machines, and so am I, so we got all excited talking about the movie Metropolis and Frankenstein.
There is development at such a grand scale here, and the bone-dry landscape is so unforgiving of the scars of such construction, that this place almost serves as a visual metaphor for any kind of extreme belief in the future. Sadly ironic that the Russian Futurist movement on the 1920’s sprang from a historically backward nation that thanks to its political system was consigned to remain one of the least advanced places on the planet.
I doubt if there’s anywhere on the planet with such daring development. And the local Emirati do not do the dirty work. Here, they have thousands of service workers, mostly Indians and Pakistanis, all of whom are treated comparatively harshly. They wear purple jumpsuits and are bused from their concrete bunkers to and from the job site. Their days are long, and during the summer, incredibly hot. They have no women to comfort them, and remind me of the workers in the movie Metropolis, furiously working underground, building the City of Tomorrow under the directions of unfeeling robots.