Strengths: You might learn something about Dubai and surrounds.
Weaknesses: You may miss it because it’s between a load of other words.
Why I read it: Very cheap at the bookstore.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
If you liked this, try: Around the World in Eighty Days by Michael Palin (dated, but fast and interesting).
I have never been to Dubai but every weekend in the newspaper, Emirates tries to entice me by telling me that I could be in Europe for dinner. I expect that would mean that I’d be in Dubai for lunch. Dubai is hot (both literally and figuratively), Dubai is the place. That’s what Joe Bennett thought too, so he thought he’d go there, check it out and write a book about it. If only it was that easy for the rest of us, eh?
Hello Dubai is a very wordy book. I’m sure that a sight in Dubai (such as a cricket game, a hotel or a shopping mall) could be described in more succinct terms. It makes Dubai come across as verbose and boring – which my friends who have travelled there assure me that it’s not. Maybe it’s because Bennett describes a lot of parties and shops in great detail (for example, pages about each shop – I love shopping, but I couldn’t write pages about Kinokuniya or Sephora). It seems to lack direction – is this about the Western expat’s life? The African or Indian young man working hard to send money home? The Islamic families? There’s a little bit of each and it jumps around between. It’s a series of vignettes linked to try to make a whole book. However, I did find it much more interesting when Bennett was discussing life outside Dubai. Perhaps he’s just not that into big cities?
Perhaps this book could be best summarised as watching Dubai from a distance – you have a vague idea of what’s happening, but can’t hear it or see the fine details.