Around us, the glass spiders shoot heavenly out of the desert bottom. When Dubai began to run out of oil in recent decades, the Emirate held its capital to create a thriving tourism industry – which means that most of modern Dubai was built in the last 20 years. Recently, a huge channel has been cut in central Dubai for the express purpose of commercial transportation, and the implicit purpose, a lifelong resident, tells me to sell more water properties. Artificial archipelagoes rose from the ocean – two in the form of huge palm trees, one designed to look like a world map, where development companies can buy nations and make them a utopian global society. (Just kidding! More hotels.)
Nothing in Dubai is fake. The snow that stretches across several ski slopes in the Mall of the Emirates is so true that you can write a poem about it. The brand new islands are so genuine, you can build hotels on them. The landlocked beach that is installed in an upcoming gated community is so real, you can sink your feet into its white sand and forget you're not on the real beach … until you look up. Everything in the metropolitan area of Dubai is covered in a thin veneer of something like deception, which makes the experience to be here very worrying.
Apa's office is located in Jumeirah Beach, East Hampton of Dubai. Everything is white and trimmed in gold – every table, every custom office chair, every office manager named Mahsa Nikdar dressed in wrinkled white is different and gilded on her wrist and neck. She looks like children by Nicole Scherzinger and Naomi Campbell, and on Saturday she is one of four incredibly attractive faces to greet you at the door, a visual attack on hospitality and mascara. Tropical house music blowers in club-bathroom volume and Diptyque light deliver almost all available surfaces, creating a disorienting blend of Ibizan party vibes and French decadens.
Every morning at 8:30 pm, APA's staff gather in the white gold conference room for an out-of-town visitor and rich regulars who will end that day. It is unbelievably familiar to anyone who consumes a real-life workplace reality: Seven or eight of the hottest dentists in the business make temporary joke about how deep a royal patient's entourage runs, laughing warmly and complaining about the air conditioning in the room and hence the hassle of different levels. Everyone is both very attractive and foreign with a compelling backstory. I will list some of them for you:
Mahsa Nikdar is the most beautiful woman God ever created. She moved to Dubai 13 years ago to work as a buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue, and journalists have written about her wardrobe.
Hayley Cartmell is from Wales and moved to Dubai to get in touch with her birth grandfather. She lives in Oman, but Apa flies her into town when he is here. The office's electricity network is driven by its laughter, which ricochetises from the reception, through the offices and into the heart of everyone present.
Tarek Hafez, a man, is brain-smelling handsome and also a dentist.
The dentists are there because Apa is at the top of their game. Healthcare professionals are surprised to find themselves in the dental industry but make sure they do not get it in any other way. They were seduced by house music and stayed for their charismatic DJ.
Some 6,800 miles west, in a city in upstate New York with about 99 percent fewer marble statues and indoor ski slopes, Michael Apa was born and raised. He was in his own words "chubby and a skateboarder and kind of outsider" who idolized his older brother, which was his opposite. Around the time his brother went to college, his father, an insurance adjuster, became a partner at one of the companies where he worked, which doubled his profits, says Apa. Suddenly they had an in-pool and a used Porsche, achievements that made a big impression on Monkey when he grew up. "I was the one my parents were," Good luck, we hope you figure it out, "he says. But after his father's promotion, Monkey was struck by a sense of financial opportunity.