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Heard it all before

Heard it all before

This month AA Gill wrote a demolition of Dubai for Vanity Fair. We swear these guys are working from some sort of ‘journalism by numbers’ sheet.

March 14, 2011 12:47 by

If Kipp was going to write a Dubai bashing article, it wouldn’t be hard. We’ve read so many of them, we could do it with our eyes closed, and we imagine there are plenty of journos out there who feel the same.

AA Gill clearly did. So much so that he actually wrote one, in the process ticking pretty much all of the same clichéd perception boxes as guys like Johann Hari and Rod Liddle. It’s a lazy piece, so lazy I’m surprised he managed to file it.

In his piece Gill writes about the “white mercenary workers who come here for tax-free salaries to do managerial and entrepreneurial jobs, parasites and sycophants for cash. For them money is a driving principle and validation. They came to be young, single, greedy, and insincere. None of them are very clever. So they live lives that revolve around drink and porn sex and pool parties and barbecues with a lot of hysterical laughing and theme nights, karaoke, and slobbery, regretful coupling. In fact, as in all cases of embarrassing arrested development, these expats on the short-term make don’t expect to put down roots here, have children here, or grow old here.”

We’ll be sure to mention that to our “not very clever” white mercenary friends with MBAs, double Masters or Doctorates, shall we Mr. Gill? While we’re at it we’ll stop in on one of our numerous friends who have lived here for more than the two decades you claim Dubai was created in. They raised their kids here too, by the way.

You know what? Kipp is not going to worry about it, since Gill’s career is largely built around having a negative view of things. He’s generally hated by gays and lesbians, Welsh people, and even people from Norfolk thanks to his various nonsensical blathering. In fact, it has occurred to us before that his ramblings make only vague sense. We can’t escape the thought that his success has more to do with his name than anything else. A A Gill. It just sounds like a literary great’s name, doesn’t it? Much better than simply ‘Adrian Gill’.

The thing is, he’s not a literary great. He’s a restaurant critic. Yes this haughty lecture on what Dubai is was penned by a restaurant critic. At last, we have a man with an opinion worthy of note! What’s that? A restaurant critic is not enough for you? Fear not, for he is also a television critic. That’s right, when he’s not offering insights on a city he clearly knows nothing about, he’s watching Secret Diary of a Call Girl and complaining about The X Factor.

Kipp is just plain tired of this. Gill is entitled to his opinion, of course, and if he genuinely believes what he writes about Dubai, then so be it. But this whole thing smacks of a freelance gig he couldn’t refuse. The editor asked if he fancied a trip to Dubai, and said all he had to do was write a nasty article about it. Gill thought, why not? Can’t be hard. In fact for all the insight the article offers, he may as well have written it at home. Perhaps he did.

We just wish one thing: If you’re going to bash Dubai, at least do a proper job. Go to a labour camp, uncover human rights issues if you can, speak to people about fraud and laundering and corruption and whatever else you say goes on here. But also meet the extremely intelligent expats who have lived in Dubai for decades, making a life for themselves, not just the drunk Brits at Double Decker. Go to the old parts of Dubai, see some of its history. Don’t just show up and go, “Ooh, Dubai is so crass and tasteless and it didn’t even exist 20 years ago and now everything’s abandoned”, because, frankly, you’re making a massive fool out of yourself.

This is just cheap, lazy journalism (and yes, Kipp is more than qualified to comment).

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  1. Nina on March 14, 2011 1:58 pm

    Having read AA Gill’s book “The Angry Island” I was fairly realistic about what to expect form this article…I thought. Man was I wrong.

    What in his book comes across as witty and well observed, was just crude bordering on racist in the Dubai piece.

    I guess having lived in England as a “Scottish expatriate” (AA Gill) for a long time he would have had a few years to really get to know the place. Not so with Dubai. You only get the views your are looking for, in this case drunk and half-dressed westerners, timid Asians, brash locals. He actually managed to miss all the Arab expatriates though…how?? The mind boggles.

    I share the view that he might have not even been here, and if he was then for a weekend trip at most including a brunch…during which he most likely got so drunk he forgot the rest of the stuff.

    I guess you could rename his blurb “Dubai through designer Beer Goggles”.

  2. lol lindsay on March 14, 2011 8:32 pm

    Having also read the article and as someone who lives in dubai as a working expat, with 3 young children, I obviously missed a trick somewhere, because nowhere do I resemble or know anyone who does:

    “mercenary workers who come here for tax-free salaries to do managerial and entrepreneurial jobs, parasites and sycophants for cash. For them money is a driving principle and validation. They came to be young, single, greedy, and insincere. None of them are very clever. So they live lives that revolve around drink and porn sex and pool parties and barbecues with a lot of hysterical laughing and theme nights, karaoke, and slobbery, regretful coupling.”

    and Im almost certain…… I am more clever than him!

  3. Mathew on March 15, 2011 6:49 am

    Dear friend,
    Certainly the writer is an aggrieved person, gelous of many uncultured expatriates, making money from their abusive ethics or activities relating to such trade.
    But rmember this type of money is made for the last few years only. This made many people lazy, including locals and the referred illiterate Expatriate advisors.
    But, pls. keep in mind, many of the underprivileged expatriates made or formulated their prestige & life all over the world, from the sweat in this sands only.
    As explained in the above article, there are many who could see a section of the mob only.
    Any how it is not worrst than Shakespearean era of the west. But, any inequity in the nature is dealt again by The Nature or it Creator in the long run.Before writting anything, we should worry about our Motherland too.

  4. Andrew on March 15, 2011 6:59 am

    If I think about what makes me cringe about Dubai, I would list everything he said. There’s still a lot about the place that’s great, but these days it’s not as easy to spot behind the stuff he lists.

    Lazy? But perhaps not surprising unless someone really takes a significant amount of time to see past most of it. That said, it’s certainly not up to his usual standards.

  5. Gareth Roberts on March 15, 2011 11:08 am

    AA Gill is a fairly accomplished travel writer although not in the classic tradition, he seems to drop-in places and forms his opinion with one sharp intake of breath. His piece on the Aral Sea was outstanding, his feature on Japan (Hiroshima was the best thing that ever happened to the place) less so. The VF article is hopeless, a distillation of stereotypes rendered with such narrow focus it would be like describing the southern states of America from the vantage point of a Ku Klux Klan meeting. Somebody should have taken him to Ravi’s. Vanity Fair wrote a diametrically opposed piece on Dubai back in 2005 when things were booming, give it another couple of years and they’ll dispatch another chino-wearing, Moleskine-clutching, over-paid scribbler with an ego the size of the Ritz.

  6. Jay on March 15, 2011 11:12 am

    Why are you so upset? Because he criticized the Westerners that come here, on higher salaries, which most of the time are not justifiable and start acting a believing that Dubai is their own personal little playground?

    Please, it’s easy to just dismiss someone that may criticize and point out the truth about a certain type of people. There are plenty of bachelor & bachelorette Westerners that really abuse Dubai and make this place a less enjoyable place to live in.

    Open your eyes

  7. Ziad on March 15, 2011 12:16 pm

    A.A Gill is so misinformed about Dubai. His article made me doubt he was even here. He was clearly set out to write a trashy piece on Dubai, so no matter what good he saw, it was sidelined.

    He says 20 yrs ago when “people were shooting each other”? 20 yrs ago I was getting the best education in an International School with a UK & US curriculum in Dubai.

    Dubai is not a country, it is a city and the crisis is worldwide not only here. Abu Dhabi is the capital city, and not a neighbouring country and they both worked hard to put the UAE on the map,

    Yes Dubai does have westerners who are in jobs getting salaries they are not worthy of and create a bad image with the drinking and bad behaviour, but there are others who came here in the 80’s and worked hard.

    He talks about the alcohol well look at what Wiki has to say “He is a recovered alcoholic who drank until the age of 30.[4] Gill suffers from severe dyslexia and, consequently, all of his works are written by dictation” There is more to see on his wiki page worth the read. His piece on Dubai looks good compared to it :)

    Once the global crisis is over, Dubai will be back on its feet, and the infrastructure will already be there with its buildings, free zones, metro, airports and all else. The tables will once again turn and we will start reading the articles that were written a few years ago praising Dubai. Journalism these days is a business, and people write what will sell, so A.A Gill is not better than the people he wrote about only here to make some money, as he is doing the same thing.

    33 yrs in the UAE and Ive seen it all happen. :)

  8. Stephen Corley on March 15, 2011 12:22 pm

    I don’t believe on the evidence of this piece that Kipp is upset by criticism, just the arrogant, lazy manner in which it was carried out..

    Any objective study of Dubai would have to endorse much of Gill’s points and there’s no evidence in Kipp’s musings that they are blinkered. What’s galling is the ease with which a scribbler can knock out a piece that scores 10 on the trite scale and zero for originality.

    Having said that ” greedy, and insincere’ …lives that revolve around drink and porn sex …. theme nights, karaoke, and slobbery,” sound pretty much like any provincial UK town to me.

    As for his comments about our “not very clever residents”, an unqualified, thrice married, invective laden race bigot who considers Jeremy Clarkson a good mate, is hardly worth the worry.

  9. Andrew on March 15, 2011 5:31 pm

    … there’s always room for Clarkson.

  10. Andrew on March 15, 2011 5:37 pm

    Ziad, you had a fair point until you decided to go down the trashy route of mentioning his previous alcoholism and dyslexia, both are irrelevant and cheap point scoring; what you accuse Gill of.

    Gill couldn’t care less about Dubai’s economy success or failure; merely its impact on the culture (where most of his points are perfectly legitimate) and on the atmosphere of the place.

  11. Plum Endemon on March 16, 2011 2:47 pm

    AA Gill is a twit of the highest order and deserves a poke in the eye for this shoddy, ‘heard it all before’ journalism.

  12. Lee on March 17, 2011 5:08 pm

    Lazy reporting from Kipp too. The Gill article is an inflammatory piece of tabloid-level garbage and this response is embarrassingly no better. How about an actual rebuttal rather than focussing on a single exaggerated point and strangely trying to discredit him by calling him a restaurant critic?


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