Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My rating: Three out of four camels

Last night I saw what was arguably the most concrete example of Emirati culture we have encountered to date. Not a wedding. Not a desert barbecue. Not camel racing. A movie.

It's called "City of Life," and it's pretty good.

On the negative side, it paints in broad strokes and is somewhat predictable. There are plot points that you can see several kilometers away and dialogue that is wooden.

Having said all that, though, it is beautifully shot and directed. On a subtextual level, it illustrates perfectly what Dubai is: a collection of people from all over the world whose cultures, goals and ideals all seem to be on a collision course.

Realistic, right down the the Salik tollway tag.

But perhaps most important, it presents an authentic vision (as far as I can tell) of the UAE. The ugly side, the poverty, the desperation, the wealth, the glitter, the fun. It also offers a glimpse--and I have no idea how accurate that glimpse actually is--of Emirati life. Specifically the "middle class" Emirati life, where several generations of a family live under one roof under conditions comparable to those of blue-collar expats.

It's hard to explain how that resonates after you have been living in the Emirates and seen many of the elements in this movie, from broad social behavior to details like truck decals and types of fruit cocktails.

It feels authentic--even if the characters don't. And authenticity is one thing this country could use more of.

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