Synopses & Reviews
Tatchell takes us on a tour of the city with an outlook thats part native, part critic, part wide-eyed traveler. The result is a truly original collage of perspectives and images, from a regal expatriate whose husband was one of the first Brits to settle in Abu Dhabi to young Emirati artists celebrating their newfound freedom of expression. A compelling piece of history told with an intimate narrative voice, A Diamond in the Desert is an eye-opening and often haunting perspective on just how much this fascinating city has changedand, for better or for worse, how much it has stayed the same.
"A glittering emblem of global modernity carries a tinge of tribal clannishness and xenophobia in this revealing travelogue through the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Tatchell (The Poet of Baghdad), an English journalist who spent her youth in Abu Dhabi, compares the present city, with its skyscrapers, lavish malls, and Guggenheim branch, to the bedouin past it has all but obliterated. She finds that Abu Dhabi's 420,000 official citizens, with an average net worth of million in oil wealth, have traded their camels and tents for SUVs, condos, and glitzy, indolent jet-setting; surrounding them is a sea of exploited foreign guest workers, 80% of the population, who build and run the city while living in a stateless limbo. (There are secrets lurking behind the shopping and partying, she finds during a Kafkaesque quest to locate the national newspaper archive.) The author's teeming, sharply etched portrait introduces readers to tycoons, a wastrel playboy with a pet panther, a bored housewife trying to score bootleg liquor, avant-garde artists, nostalgic British expats, and a Lithuanian prostitute. Tatchell's keen powers of observation and personal connections enable her to convey the hidden reality of this mirage-like city. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"First published in Great Britain in 2009 by Septre"--T.p. verso.