Book Review: Desperate in Dubai by Ameera Al Hakawati

Al Quţayfah By | June 18, 2012


The reputation of this book has made it all the way to Kuwait. The books name has always been in the back of my mind for some reason, only when news of it being banned earlier this year did I really cement its title in my brain and I started to pay attention. A book, written about and banned in the UAE? Then re-banned? And sold out b3d? Say a book is banned and I have to read it. I just have to see for myself if my mind is able to take it or not.

Finally, I got my hands on the book this past weekend while in Dubai. The book is indeed in every corner you look, in every chart and shelf. Its in fact the first thing I did when I went into Dubai: Check into the hotel, head down to Virgin mega store, and buy the book. I spent my weekend in Dubai reading it and there is no better way to read it than being in Dubai for you can totally relate to your surroundings.

On the cover, Time Out Dubai states that the book is ‘UAE’s answer to Desperate Housewives.’ but I beg to differ. Its more like UAE’s answer to SATC! The writing is very good indeed masha2 Allah but I was surprised at the content: it is quite naughty! Not suitable for sensitive readers who would be for sure extra sensitive towards its content if they are Arabs or Khaleejis given that we all live in the bubble of 3aib and refuse to believe that there is anything happening outside that bubble.

I liked the story line, I liked the twists, I liked the quite unlikely coincidences, yet I literally couldn’t put it down and finished it at 3 AM this morning. Its like sitting in a room with a girlfriend and listening to her describing scandalous affairs of the society. You want to know if Leila bags the man catch, if Lady Luxe adventures are uncovered, if Nadia can patch it up with her cheating husband, and what the hell is Sugar’s secret? Writing the naughty details in this book and sounding out the frank perspective of society towards its different inhabitants must have taken a lot of guts indeed.

The best thing about the book? It originated from a series of posts on a blog, Desperate in Dubai! I love blogs that turn into books and very successful ones indeed! I have a soft spot in my heart for every book that originates from blog posts, I cannot help it being a blogger myself. Those kinds of books almost always are successes with a fan base of people already willing to re read its content all over again. Way to go, Ameera :)

The things I didn’t like about the book? There were no footnotes for the Arabic and Indian dialog and that annoyed me. There weren’t many of them though and thank god I speak Arabic. I want to know what the Indian ones meant though. Another thing, I hated the name Sugar. Really hated the name Sugar. It grated on my ears every time I read it especially when she was in the religious mood. Her name only makes me think of a stripper out of the club. I couldn’t relate to her.

Writing that book was very brave, and again it is not suitable for sensitive readers. I don’t expect to see it landing in Kuwait’s libraries anytime soon though, its too explicit for our censorship. Plus, I can understand why many think of it as offensive given that the characters voice out their thoughts generally. In addition, for some reason in the gulf we always think that the stories written in books are an exact word to word re-tale of something that actually happened that is often scandalous, and nothing can be imagined at all. If you approach the book from that angle and expect that you are reading a 100% true tale, you may not like its content at all and be quite outraged.

However, it is definitely staying on my shelf and I’m looking forward to more books by the writer with the nom de plume, Ameera Al Hakawati. I wonder how fellow Emarati readers feel about it though?

P.S. Its nothing Like Banat Al-Riyadh.

8 Responses to “Book Review: Desperate in Dubai by Ameera Al Hakawati”

  1. Jacqui says:

    Interesting I shall see if it’s available via iBooks or Kindle and download it 😛

  2. giggles says:

    shakla 5osh ketab 7asafa i was in dubai as well last weekend but didn’t know about it. i hope it is still there when i go there next time inshala.

    • danderma says:

      I’m guessing it will be there for a long time given that it was banned then restocked again. Its everywhere you go!

  3. ImeKuwait says:

    HEy D! Currently reading girls of Riyadh and Im finding it quite intriguing..I noticed DinD has chapters metioned on their blog, is it the same as the book chapters?

    • danderma says:

      They are very similar indeed, some are identical, but not the entire thing is there and certainly the ending is not as well. But you can get an idea on what’s the book like.

  4. Cally says:

    Hi, I read this book and loved it, however, I feel as though I am missing something at the end where Khaled replied ‘That’s okay – I used to call you lade Luxe’. Can you help me please?!