The image that caught my eye was a shiny gold Sports Utility Vehicle. It wasn't a sports car or some snappy little piece built for speed. It was a Mercedes, which is no surprise, but it could have been used for carrying the kids and their assorted equipment to soccer practice. Platinum shin guards and silk jerseys. To the absurdly maintained practice facility. It's the way things are done in Dubai.
You've heard of Dubai? The most populous city in the United Arab Emirates? Sure, there's a lot of money flowing in and out of this port city that comes from the production and sale of oil, but mostly there's just a whole lot of money flowing in and out of this port city. So much money, in fact, that sights such as a gold-plated SUV is not an uncommon sight. Nor is seeing someone's pet cheetah in the front seat.
The breakdown looks a little like this: Dubai's gross national product in 2011 was eighty-three billion dollars. In that same year, the United States' gross national product was almost sixteen trillion dollars. Why don't we see more cheetahs in the front seat of gold SUVs in Detroit, then? Part of it is because the GNP for the United States works out to just a shade below fifty thousand dollars per person. The population of Dubai is just a little above two million. When you split up Dubai's billions, you end up with about forty-one thousand dollars for each person living there. How are they all affording these expensive custom and bejeweled land yachts? How do they afford the meat it takes to feed their menagerie of jungle cats?
Simple answer: They don't. Just like the United States, there are them with and them without. The difference being that the UAE has put their money in things like schools and health care, providing such anomalies as a twelve to one teacher to student ratio in their classrooms lower infant mortality rates and longer life expectancy than most of the rest of the world. Sixteen percent of their annual budget goes into education. Sure, there are some people spending three hundred thousand dollars for a night out, but that's not the rule. That is the exception that people find to sneer at. Before you start poking around in Dubai's business, remember when you heard about Katy Perry buying a trip to outer space? She's probably looking for a cat as big as the one she rode at the Super Bowl, only for real. It's that thing about disposable income. It's disposable. That's how we get things like solid gold Cadillacs and fur sinks. Start saving those dirham.