It’s been about 21 years since I made a flight connection at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates on my way to visit the Dominicans in Pakistan. At that time I thought it was one of the most opulent airports in the world. They had outlets of all the major luxury brands and products. They had duty free stores peddling all the finest spirits, perfume, and tobacco. They even had some of the most expensive cars and motorbikes under lottery and raffle. All of this was under a roof of magnificent steel, glass, and marble. This was the world that the airport authority wanted people aspire to. Since then, Dubai has probably grown in size by an order of one or two magnitudes (10x to 100x), which is pretty frightening.

Doha, where I transferred planes, lives in the economic shadow of Dubai since it is situated a mere 235 miles to the west across a open bay in the Persian Gulf. I’d say that now its level of materialism is about where Dubai was back in the early 2000s. But it’s trying very hard to achieve its sibling’s success. The Middle Eastern carriers have the benefit of geographic location in their rise to dominance in the commercial aviation space. Like in biblical times, they can conveniently shuffle goods and services throughout competing empires. Today this spans from Europe to Asia to Africa and even to North and South America with a minimum amount of inconvenience. This whole area was part of the Golden Crescent, a place of immense value to whoever controlled it. It’s as much true today as it was when Moses delivered his people out of Egypt and into the ”promised land.”

This ginormous teddy bear is the icon and meeting point at Doha Hamad International Airport

I’m not certain God had these airport malls in mind. But it’s clear that it’s captured the minds and pocketbooks of the rich and wealthy, fulfilled or aspiring. Only time will tell what will unfold in the next millennia. In the meanwhile, it’s a bit painful for me to reminisce about the area. For I know that it is union with God that brings us the joy we seek, not these trinkets and experiences. Oh, it might bring a smile to our face, or even give us what we think we want, temporarily. But in the end, it doesn’t fulfill. There’s always newer and better; there’s always more to be gotten.

A sample prize to be won in a car drawing.

It’s easy to look at the graphic above and dismiss it as a web advertisement. But these are the sorts of things that the airport raffles off. I think they’re banking on the sensation that gambling does for some people.

Categories: MusingsTravel

2 Comments

Nora · February 9, 2022 at 1:21 am

Fr. Corwin,
My heart fills with joy reading your blog. We are both on a journey. I’ll pray for all of you and you pray for me.
God bless and watch over you.

Thomas Pierce · February 11, 2022 at 11:10 pm

Thank you for inspiring me in my faith. May God continue to bless you in your journey!

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