By Jo Tatchell
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Additional info for A Diamond in the Desert: Behind the Scenes in Abu Dhabi, the World’s Richest City
Good luck getting access,’ he said. ‘It’ll be a miracle if you find anything. Let me know if you need help and we’ll see what we can do. But don’t hold your breath. ’ The first draft of history is written by journalists. So how was society chronicled in the early years of the UAE? Was everything swept under the carpet, or did Abu Dhabians choose simply to deal with news in their own self-preserving way? ’ Was everything but the good news deliberately cast aside? Are they now ready to let the facts speak for themselves?
At sunset prayers were followed by coffee and when the time came to eat, men huddled round trays of food, tearing at the soft flesh with their fingers and pushing it quietly into their mouths. Afterwards they told tall tales, of falcons pinning bustards out of the sky, camel deals and skulduggery, love and land battles. Behind it all lay Zayed’s great dream: that the settled tribes and wandering Bedu alike would build a future of shared plenty. Neither Edward nor Zayed mentioned the trunk. The quarterly payment from the oil company sat unguarded on the passenger seat of the pick-up, awaiting its rightful turn in the proceedings.
The fishermen, in wooden dhows, sanbuks and small jalboots, with outboards strapped to the back, would wave as they passed, as if we were friends. We waved back, part of the same salty fraternity. Idyllic. Bill was rattling through the plans. Two giant ten-lane bridges were to link Saadiyat to the mainland, fast-tracking people to and from the airport and the city. There were to be culture domes and arts centres, even a museum created in honour of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, the founding father of the United Arab Emirates.