Since the pandemic started, Dubai has become “France’s new Eldorado”, says Julian Blanc-Gras in L’Obs. The “Covid effect” has brought a small colony of young Francophones to Dubai, drawn by accommodating taxes, sexy Instagram backdrops and the fact this desert city “surfed the health crisis by creating a virtual working programme”. It’s also only two hours off Paris’s time zone – charmant for remote workers.
More than 17,000 Gauls live here now, among the “Instagram bimbos” and infinity pools, while 62,000 French tourists visited in the first quarter of this year, more than from any other country except India and Russia. We French are seduced by the promise of “XL salaries” in a city that runs like a start-up, and despite the sinister-sounding Ministry of Tolerance, “siliconised humans strut around”, testifying to “a flexible application of Sharia law”. French Arabs find that being called Mohammed or wearing a veil is not a hindrance, as can be the case in France itself.
Dubai’s “Disneyland side” – the Mall of the Emirates and its ski slope with penguins, the “seven-star” Burj Al Arab hotel with the “world’s highest swimming pool” – makes people feel young. It’s a paradox: “young French people who grew up in a democracy feel more free and serene under an authoritarian regime”. That’s Dubai: liberal, opulent, controlled, narcissistic and cosmopolitan. “Have fun. Just don’t look behind the curtain.”