Day 15: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
by Oliver Smith
We’ve learned that Dubai is a city determined to push the boundaries at everything it does. But if there’s one field where it’s truly the world leader, it’s in terrible muzak.
Opening my hotel room door this morning I was immediately hit by a blast of synthesized saxophone. Shopping at the mall, you can’t escape smooth grooves pumped relentlessly through the tannoy. Everywhere here, it seems, you’re followed around insidiously by ambient music – in restaurants, bars, hotels, airports, metro stations, pedestrian walkways. I’ve twice seen speakers concealed in flowerbeds and bushes. Remember the mind control exercises in George Orwell’s 1984? Well, Dubai’s a bit like that, but instead of Big Brother blaring over the speakers, you get things like Can You Feel the Love Tonight (xylophone version), the karaoke track of Meatloaf’s I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That), and a tinkling piano rendition of My Heart Will Go On (with not one, but two key changes).
In terms of diversity, Dubai is like few places on Earth: 80% of its population are expats – a heady mix of Indians, Pakistanis, Southeast Asians and Europeans, living alongside the local Arab community. All of them have their own cuisines and cultures. So what’s the music like at this crossroads of humanity – what’s the anthem for this utopian city for the future?
It’s Sexual Healing. Played on panpipes.
The day in statistics:
- Temperature outside: 33 degrees C
- Phil Collins songs heard: 2
- Singing bushes: 2