Thursday 11 June, 19:00


Crumbling Chimera

The CCCB continues its series of debates about Middle Eastern cities with a session on Dubai, where luxury tourism and architectural excess exist side by side with the contradictions of a society divided between Muslim orthodoxy and a Western lifestyle, and the exploitation of the Southern Asian workers who build the city's skyscrapers.


In recent years Dubai has become one of the iconic cities of the early twenty-first century, thanks to its spectacular architectural developments, luxury shopping centres and an array of highly ambitious tourist and leisure sites from exotic hotels to artificial islands and ski slopes. The success of the enterprise is due in part to the ambition of its ruler, Sheikh Muhammad who has managed to situate his country as a leader in world finance and tourism, attracting investors from all round the world and turning the city into an emblem of capitalism and architectural modernity in the middle of the Persian Gulf.

However, now that the pinch of the global crisis is being felt with shrinking investment and incomes, criticisms of the "Dubai miracle" have been gathering force with voices speaking out against mistreatment of migrant workers, the secrecy of its financial institutions, and also lenience towards money coming from drugs and international crime.

Fred Halliday, director of the series of debates on cities of the Middle East


SCREENING: Slumdogs and Millionaires (United Kingdom, 2009, 15-minute fragment. Original version with Catalan subtitles)

This BBC documentary reveals the appalling conditions of life and work of the immigrant construction workers who have made Dubai's architectural development possible.

DEBATE: "Dubai: Foreclosure of a Dream?"

With the participation of:

Christopher Davidson
. Senior lecturer in the School of Government and International Affairs of the Durham University (UK), expert in the Gulf countries and author of Dubai. The Vulnerability of Success (Columbia University Press, 2008).

Fred Halliday. ICREA (Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies) Research Professor at IBEI (Barcelona Institute for International Studies) and author of 100 mitos sobre Oriente Próximo (Global Rhythm, 2007 - published in English as 100 Myths about the Middle East, University of California Press, 2005).