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Everyday Life in the "Glitzy" City: Making Home in Spectacular Dubai
It is a common scholarly and popular pursuit to seek, implicitly or explicitly, to uncover the “real” city that lies beneath the veneer of the spectacles of Dubai, which advances a problematic binary that contrasts supposedly “authentic,” “local” spaces with “alienating,” “tourist” ones. The notion that Dubai’s spectacular developments are objectively foreign, alienating, and oppressive is part of what I call the discourse of authenticity that pervades public and scholarly discussions of the city. This discourse voices sincere concerns about neoliberalism, exclusionary urbanism and rapid changes. Yet, it also elides many residents’ complex feelings of not only loss but also gain in relation to the new developments, fetishizes “authentic” low-income spaces, and creates a false binary of fake/authentic. This paper shows that, in contrast to this discourse’s assumptions, many of Dubai’s inhabitants form meaningful relationships with these “inauthentic” spaces, which they use to meet needs of socializing, expression, and navigating social mores. In doing so, middle-class Dubaians construct layered and intersectional practices of ambivalent belonging through which they position themselves and others.
Geographic Area
Arabian Peninsula
Sub Area
Urban Studies