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Word from my Dubai correspondent
March 23, 2009 - Bill Ackerbauer
In the comments remarking on Pat Beck's recent blog post about the dubious location of Dubai, one of our regular readers wondered how much people pay for gasoline in that seaside city of sheiks and skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates.
The question was rhetorical, I think, but interesting nonetheless. It turns out people there pay only slightly less than we do here: about $1.80 per gallon, according to my Dubai correspondent.
As it happens, I really do know a guy who lives there. Long ago, when I was a senior at Johnstown High School, my family hosted an AFS exchange student from Egypt. Amgad Hussein lived with us, driving my mother nuts and raiding the refrigerator for a year, before returning to his home country in 1991.
I hadn't heard from Amgad in almost two decades until a few weeks ago, when we reconnected on Facebook.com, the social networking site. (Stay tuned for a future post offering my take on Facebook and such phenomena.) Amgad tells me he's now living in Dubai and works in marketing.
Apparently, gas is slightly cheaper there than here (he informs me it's only about $1.20 per gallon in Egypt), but he says the economic slowdown is hurting people in Dubai almost as much as in Detroit.
"The financial problem is really affecting businesses over here, which is affecting me so much that I'm considering leaving the country," he said.
The difference between Dubai and Detroit, of course, is that Detroit has been suffering economically for decades, whereas Dubai was a megaluxury boomtown until just recently. I hope my friend wasn't planning to spend any time at the Atlantis Resort there, where the rooms go for as much as $25,000 a night, according to this report in the New York Times.
I'll have to ask Amgad what country he might move to next, if he really does leave the UAE. Will he return to Egypt? Or will he try his luck in Europe or the United States? As far as I'm concerned, he's welcome back in Johnstown, but I'm pretty sure my mom would freak out if she woke up in the middle of the night and found him raiding her fridge.
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Here's Amgad (center) at graduation in June 1990, goofing around with fellow exchange students Pablo from Spain, and Martin from Sweden.