The Emirates: Penthouse Gypsies
As the sun sets over this desert country, the still cranes perched on unfinished buildings look like ruins bathed in golden light.
But when the sun disappears, and inky darkness fills the sky, Dubai's cityscape lights up and takes on a magical quality. “I love Dubai at night,” my host and friend, let us call him Andy, said as we sat out drinking and chatting on the balcony of his flat. “It's like something out of Arabian Nights.”
Andy is an example of what I have come to call a “penthouse gypsy.” They go where they are treated best, wherever in the world that may be. They have money, own businesses, and invest in real estate. They are smart, independent, and value their privacy. And they aren't living in the United States, the United Kingdom, or Europe.
Andy's apartment sits on a man-made island in the middle of a man-made lake. It's called The Old Town Island even though it's brand-new because it looks like a part of old Arabia, or at least the old Arabia of Hollywood and Westerners' dreams.
The Old Town Island stands in sharp contrast with the ultra modernity of Dubai's signature buildings, with their curves and sail shapes washed in multicolored illuminations. These structures give Dubai the air of an eccentric tycoon's playground, with its seeming indifference to how much things cost. Only the rich could build such things in deserts.
For example, The Old Town Island sits next to the Burj Khalifa, which is the world's tallest structure, ...