Remember the DesertBy Patrick DE CAROLIS Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach
Night was looking to take over the city but Dubai, the insomniac, was defying the incipient obscurity. Far up on the 32nd floor, leaning his elbows on the railing of the immense terrace, he inhaled the sea air. As at every stopover, he was staying at the Sofitel Jumeirah Beach. He appreciated the staff’s friendliness and loved lingering in the impressive imperial suite which was systematically reserved for him. At each of his passings, he set down his dreams and his baggage there. He never derogated from the rule. He liked being recognized and in this fast-paced life that destiny imposed on him, he was trying to reestablish a few reassuring habits so as not to lose all his landmarks.
His existence was an uninterrupted succession of business trips, cold- hearted contract negotiations, anonymous professional encounters, romantic adventures with no tomorrow. He didn’t complain but age was catching up with him. The wrinkles were more heavily marked on his hairless face. Unlike his kin, he refused to follow the fashion of thick beards and flatteringly large mustaches. His Anglo-Saxon studies must have rubbed off on his hair growth. He smiled half-heartedly at this joke his brothers repeated at will.
No, he regretted nothing in his life. He had become a powerful man, respected and envied. The notoriety of the Waled AL. B. Corporation, the firm he himself created and which was named after him had spread well beyond its home country. Everywhere he went he was greeted with deference. His financial ease played in his favor. He was not fooled but his wealth was not his only asset. His presence, his sharp eye, the mastery with which he maneuvered in the most complex situations inspired esteem. And yet, was he vain? He had always been lucid about himself and his circle. Perhaps he had become an old wise man like his father. It was hard for him to imagine. They were so different, their destinies so opposed.
What did they have in common? Belonging to the same line, to a tribe that claimed its Bedouin origins, to this desert people, proud and independent from which his family issued.