Vote of the week: Should theme park fans visit Dubai?
Written by Robert Niles
This week's announcement that Six Flags will join the Dubailand project brings the Arabian peninsula emirate one step closer to becoming the "Orlando of the Middle East." Six Flags, Busch and Universal all are licensing theme parks in Dubai, with Busch building its largest project to date - a four-park resort in The Palm Jebel Ali.Tweet
Sounds like a theme park fan's dream, right? Maybe not. Dubai, as a tourist destination is... not without controversy.
It's a Middle Eastern, clan-controlled, oil-rich kingdom, after all. Critics have accused the emirate of harboring indentured servants and its banks of laundering money for al Qaeda. Its oil helps fuel the global warming that threatens the planet's environment. And its massive tourist developments have made the United Arab Emirates the biggest per-capita energy consumers in the world, even worse than the United States.
But... unlike other Arab states, Dubai has developed a well-earned reputation for openness and accessibility. The emirate permits dress, dance, drink and music that would be forbidden elsewhere on the peninsula. Anyone can visit Dubai, even Jews and those with Israeli stamps on their passports -- visitors who would be denied entry to many other Middle Eastern states. Its airline has won international praise for great service and its tourist developments dazzle, making the emirate one of the top international destinations for Europeans.
So... is it "right" to visit Dubai? Does visiting the emirate help support the nastiness critics decry? Or does it help engage the emirate with the Western world, rewarding it for transcending the Muslim fundamentalism elsewhere in the Middle East?
For the record, none of theme park companies mentioned above are building parks in Dubai. They are simply licensing their brand names and designs to local developers who will build and manage the parks. Does that absolve these companies of responsibility for what's happening with labor in Dubai, or not?
I don't know. What's your call on these question? Vote below, and leave your thoughts in the comments, please.
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