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This is something of a reunion and there is the air of the familiar as I transit through here. We landed at 5.30 am but time of arrival or departure seems to make little difference here since it is always crowded with transients. This is definitely a utilitarian hub, focused squarely on shifting people through. But in so doing we are all forced to walk though a quite remarkable duty free shopping centre. In actual fact shopping is probably the main reason for the existence of this hall. If you are ever looking for the definition of a melting pot, use this place as your template. Africans, many in their national dress, come in from the south. Those tall and elegant ones from the Horn of Africa seem to float through the shambles, regal in their bearing and not being reduced by the confusion. Groups of Russian men heading who knows where but all smoking their heads off (outside the smoking refuges) and slapping each other’s back in uproarious good humour. Arabs in all the variety of their dress, some completely covered, while others in Western hip hop fashion. A group of ten year old girls from Malaysia all asleep in a circle on the floor, their yellow T-shirts advertising their school. A very high number of workers from South Asia who are the most stoic of the lot, in small groups squatting with arms resting on their knees, watching through the forest of legs that drill past them. A squatting clutch of Korean men compare their visa applications. They look like construction or shipyard workers as well. And here too are the numerous Filipinos in transit to more prosperous times for their families, but via the hard graft of being exploited for their labour in this part of the world. Holidaying Brits and other Europeans make up a large part of the population, pasty skinned or fried and the duty free shops do a roaring trade with them. But it is the poorly dressed single men who clutch their papers, even (especially) as they sleep across the carpet and clutter up the walkways. Some of them snowy haired and aged. Many in simple attire, some in nothing more than rags. With sandals on their feet, rarely shoes. Some look lost, most have a resigned air about them. Where are they going? Where are their families? Are they leaving loved ones or heading home? How long are they away? (A porter in a hotel in Saudi once told me he gets home to see his wife and children in Sri Lanka once every six years!) What on earth do they make of the obscene wealth on display on the duty free floor below? What are their dreams? Do they have any dreams? Can you dream for something better when you have nothing? Or is that all you do? And that, after all, is what Dubai is about – dreams. Dreams of fabulous wealth for those who have nothing, and dreams of fabulous entertainment for those who have. And dreams of freehold real estate and more sunny days than rainy days per year for those who crave those things but who fall somewhere in the middle. This airport of course is only a mirror of what is being lived outside in the dusty 38 degree heat.