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The city of Dubai is an enchanted garden in the desert, a beacon of pulsating modernity where once only rocks and sand abounded. Created almost out of nothing by skilled and imaginative emirs, Dubai has experienced only capitalism and has given rise to a consumerist utopia: happiness based on abundance. But that happiness in not accompanied by rights, nor by political and civil liberties. “The happiest city in the world” boasts tall skyscrapers, settlements erected on artificial islands, vast shopping centres. Behind the burnished gloss there flourishes one of the most oppressive, iniquitous and eco-destructive regimes in the world, where utopia and dystopia are revealed for what they really are: the very same thing. This is what happens when a society attempts to reject capitalism without the constraining benefits of democratic politics and human rights.

Emanuele Felice teaches Economic Policy at the Gabriele d’Annunzio University in Pescara and writes for the Italian daily newspaper “la Repubblica”. In 2020 he has become Member of the national secretariat of Italy’s Democratic Party (PD), as Head of the Economic Department.