October 13, 2014

A Diamond in the Desert by Jo Tatchell

Subtitled "Behind the scenes in the world's richest city," this is a book about Abu Dhabi, the wealthiest state of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi is both a state and the name of its major city, a sister city to Dubai, which is only a two-hour drive away.

The average net worth of the 430,000 citizens of Abu Dhabi in 2008-09 when this book was written was $17 million. The author points out that not everyone is this wealthy, but the people of Abu Dhabi are generally very comfortable, and many of them are wealthy beyond imagination.

Tatchell grew up in Abu Dhabi with expatriate, consultant parents, and now has returned to see an amazing shift from the nomadic culture of the past to a vibrant and very ambitious city. The wealth comes at an enormous cost. She describes the moral abyss of a generation of wealthy young Abu Dhabians who reach ever lower in their boredom and cynicism. The state is highly regulated, with both laws and an unspoken culture that prohibit criticism. A fascinating book.

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