JC / Railbird

Dubai Scene

From “Dubai is for flamingos,” Harpers, June 2009:

The Dubai World Cup, touted as the world’s richest horse race, goes on as scheduled. Each year on a Saturday in the spring, thousands of people descend upon this patch of grass in the desert to watch horses circle a magnificently fancy track. In the public section, where admission is free, the Sudanese, most of them northerners, turn out in the biggest numbers, followed by the Pakistanis, the Indians, and assorted others; together they partake of a Woodstock-sized group picnic. In what is referred to as the Apron View section, where tickets go for several thousand dirhams, droves of drunken expats, beet-colored from the sun and abundant booze, stumble about the lawns in pointy heels and hats shaped like birds and paisley suits and watch anything but the races. There is a champagne bar called The Bubble Lounge, a Style Arena in which an elaborate ladies’ fashion competition is staged, and much slurred enunciation and giddy gyration to very bad house music.

Call it Ibiza meets the Kentucky Derby with a dash of Royal Ascot …