There is very little fiction for adults that is set in Dubai. Perhaps this reflects the ‘fact is stranger than fiction’ feel to the city.
Luigi Falconi (2008) The Duke of Dubai
The Duke of Dubai is the leader of a group of expats and Arabs who are all trying to get rich quick, at any cost. Luigi Falconi, the main character in this fictional account, wants to play with the big boys. He wants to be wealthy like the Duke and is prepared to go to almost any lengths to get there. Luigi’s mounting greed conflicts with his conscience in a way that mirrors what is happening in the city itself as it grows and develops at a breakneck speed. As we follow the adventures of the assorted characters in this book, we gain an insight into the political and cultural mélange of Dubai.
Muhammad Al Murr (1990) Dubai Tales, and (1994) Wink of the Mona Lisa
These collections of short stories are translated from the original Arabic. They are written by perhaps the most famous of all Emirati writers who is currently head of the Dubai Cultural Council and previously editor in chief of two local newspapers. His insights into the political and cultural world of Dubai enrich the stories which provide outsiders with glimpses into the lives of those in the local community.
Maryam Mohammed (2006) Tears on the Sand
This collection of stories is set in a Dubai that has long since disappeared. It is a world of pearl-fishing, superstition, tradition and innocence. Although the stories are fictional, they are based on the facts of what life was like in the past. This is an insight into a world we seldom hear about by a local writer.
Maha Gargash (2009) The Sand Fish: A Novel from Dubai
This novel was released towards the end of 2009 and very soon became a best seller. It is set in the 1950s and tells the story of a young independent village girl who is forced to become the third wife of a wealthy childless pearl merchant. She faces problems from the temper and jealousy of the other wives. The family dynamics quickly change when she becomes pregnant after an illicit affair.
There is a much greater range of books for children which are set in Dubai and written by local writers. These include Abdulla and his Grandfather, Omar’s Goats, Fishcakes and Jelly, The Camel That Got Away, The Camel Beauty Contest, Bella the Desert Dog, and the ever popular Tales of Arabia series. For the slightly older readers, the following books are well worth a read.
Julia Johnson (2003) The Pearl Diver
This beautifully illustrated book provides children with an insight into what life was like for children who lived in Dubai when the economy was based on pearl trading. Through the simple story of a young boy called Saeed and his father, a vivid picture is created of the culture and conditions at the time. Saeed accompanies his father on his first pearl diving expedition but his excitement does not last long as they face the dange…