Let's move to a desert of money, oil, glass buildings and influencers! This week: Dubai

What’s it about? 

A vast, flashy, glittering, multicultural metropolis emerging from the desert like a mirage, the high-glitz, high-glamour city of Dubai opens its arms to foreigners of any race, religion and nationality so long as they represent economic value.

With its optimism, boundless, pulsating energy and climate-destroying carbon reserves, here anyone can be who they want to be, mostly due to the preponderance of plastic surgeons.

The possibilities are endless – unless you want to join a trade union, be gay, have sex outside of marriage or voice an opinion on the government. Then you can experience a different multicultural melting pot in the form of a 96 degree prison cell.

But forget trifles like democracy and free speech – here the vibe is fun, frolics and tax avoidance. With its gaudy ostentation, air-conditioned malls and obsession with designer labels, the whole place is one massive Harrods with fewer Emiratis.

Any good points? 

The luxury. Home to over 67,000 millionaires, here supercars are so quotidian that even the police drive Bugattis. It’s like taking a trip to a rap video.

There are laws against the ownership of exotic animals, but laws don’t apply to the super-rich so you’ll often glance over at the lights and see a Lamborghini with a cheetah in the passenger seat.

Don’t worry about their welfare – fed regularly, roaming penthouse apartments, they’re far better off than guest workers in Dubai’s many labour camps. The pumas have passports. The Nepalis have theirs confiscated.

Why are you really here? Why would anyone come to a desert? Why have you begun a new life far from anyone you know? Because you get paid shitloads of money. You can also play golf.

Beautiful landscape? 

Depends how you feel about sand dunes. The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, offers views as far as Iran on a clear day, allowing you to see a hot, sandy, repressive state making drones for Russia. It’s a modern-day version of the Great Pyramids, also built by slaves.

Fancy something lower? Al Seef, nestled on the banks of Dubai Creek, is an attempt to preserve – or, rather, create – Dubai’s history. You can ride a dhow boat, haggle for traditional Middle Eastern crafts made in China and remember when Dubai was a sleepy port at the heart of the pearlfishing trade.

But like everything else in Dubai, it’s faker than the tits on the hostesses at BLU nightclub. Special points for spotting the Starbucks built in traditional rustic Arabian style.

Hang out at…

The whole city’s a party. Hit the Marina to see the latest in money-extracting nightclub tech or find one of the famous Friday lunchtime boozy brunches which begin with canapés and champagne and end with a story in the Daily Mail.

For a slower pace, Jumeirah Beach Residence has a variety of sports bars and British-style pubs recreating a slow night at a working men’s club in 1960s Mansfield in 40-degree heat. Come along so men named Nigel can tell you about their divorce.

Remember drugs, nudity, and public displays of affection are all widespread and illegal. The risk of being banged up for life for any minor infraction really adds savour to an evening.

Where to buy? 

If you can afford it, the Palm. Dubai’s most expensive neighbourhood, a chain of artificial islands in the shape of a palm tree, is home to any number of Italian and Russian businessmen who just love Dubai’s relaxed extradition laws.

Packed with expats, where else could a middle-ranking supply chain logistics manager from Birmingham cosplay Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey, inspecting the fingernails of the uniformed staff before he heads out to Pizza Hut?

Most jobs come with accommodation provided, so welcome to your apartment in a skyscraper staring at another skyscraper, isolated and alone, spending long nights thinking of the money you’re making.

From the streets:

Mehad Alameri, aged 25, multi-millionaire: “Dubai is the most marvellous place in the world because we can buy everything marvellous in the world. I have bid on Romelu Lukaku as a pet.”

Joe Turner, aged 35, a supply chain logistics manager from Birmingham: “Where the fuck is my fucking driver?”

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'You seem to have made a blonde a lady?' I say. 'That was no lady, that was my – actually better not,' Boris replies

From the diaries of Carrie Johnson, on maternity leave from being Britain’s First Lady 

I REMEMBER Charlotte Owen, or do I? Interchangeable Home Counties blonde? Now mysteriously a peer for life aged 30 or possibly 29? ‘Explain,’ I say. 

‘It’s not what you think,’ he says, which is interesting given that in this particular case I’m not entirely sure what I think. With Big Dog it’s usually the one thing, but apparently this might be not that but its consequences three decades on.

‘She’s a very capable special adviser,’ he says, still in his jogging outfit but eyeing the chilled rosé, ‘and nothing more. I certainly haven’t been alone with her and wouldn’t be,’ he says indignantly.

Marriage to Boris involves challenges. For example here am I, hugely pregnant, baffled as to whether this fucking girl’s his daughter or he’s using the rumour to distract from a much more traditional relationship. All the years of our love and I still can’t tell.

This is on top of him being jobless, Dorries on the phone all hours slurring ‘Take my seat, please, it’s all I ever wanted,’ and Lady Bamford, disappointed not to be Dame Lady Bamford, hinting at eviction.

‘So you didn’t?’ I say. ‘Definitely not and never would,’ he says, opening a pre-mixed gin. ‘Oh. Thought this was my energy drink.’ ‘So she’s your daughter?’ ‘Certainly not.’

‘Because if she’s not your daughter, then–’    ‘Good-looking girl though,’ he pivots. ‘Wanted a piece of the Big Dog. But the Dog wasn’t hungry thanks to you darling, so it’s fine.’

‘Then why in fuck is she the youngest life peer in British history?’ I say, knowing there’s a lie here but unable to find the exact angle. ‘She asked,’ he said, draining the can.