BBC's 'Inside Dubai: Playground of the Rich' branded as 'out of date' as episode 2 lands

Here's how viewers reacted to the show across social media

'Inside Dubai: Playground of the Rich' is a three-part documentary series following some of the city's wealthiest residents. AP Photo
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BBC Two was back with a second dose of its documentary Inside Dubai: Playground of the Rich on Monday evening, a show that follows some of the city’s wealthiest residents.

While the first episode focused on the home lives of residents, including Gaynor Scott, who, along with her millionaire businessman husband and two children, gave insight into her chauffeur-driven, private jet-setting family life in Emirates Hills, the second episode took viewers into the workplaces of some of the city’s most successful.

We met Paul Christodoulou, chief executive of Dubai real estate company Aqua Properties, who we are told was one of the earliest residents of Palm Jumeirah. “It benefits me,” he said, of living in Dubai, “and that’s only how I can see things.”

While the whole point of the show is to showcase the lavish lifestyles some of the city’s residents lead, it naturally has sparked controversy with audiences.

Plenty of viewers took to social media to share their thoughts during the show, and many had a lot of say.

“I'm going in for a second overly rich helping of #insidedubai and will probably need something to ease the queasiness by the end of it,” said Twitter user Erica James.

While Hannah Jane Kennedy wrote: “Inside Dubai has me cringing, and eye rolling in equal measures.”

Others branded the show, which regularly refers to clips from documentaries filmed in the 1990s and 2000s as “out of date”.

“All a little bit out of date,” another Twitter user wrote. “Dubai has moved on a bit @bbc #insidedubai”

“I wish BBC2 would follow the average expat that only moved to Dubai within the last few years, not the ones that got there in the 90s and early 00s,” another said.

Perhaps one of the biggest talking points across social media was how the show repeatedly refers to the British and European residents featured as “expats”, while referring to manual and household workers in the city as “immigrants”.

“@BBC Please tell me the difference between a 'British' "expat" and an immigrant? #insidedubai #bbc2 #confused,” Karen Flood tweeted.

While user Kgaffs asked the same question. “What's process to go from immigrant to expat #insidedubai?”

The episode also featured a short interview with socialite and influencer Caroline Stanbury, who revealed that she can be paid up to £5,000 (Dh25,000) to post one image of a luxury hotel on social media, as well as enjoy a free stay in one of its most lavish suites.

“If you are having a bad day in Dubai, you’re really not having a bad day,” she says.

“There’s very negative feeling towards Dubai and I can’t understand why. Is it because in Britain you’re taught that if you have money, you shouldn’t show it,” she says. “You’re meant to turn your lights off at 7pm and share a bath with your family. Here, we turn every light on and wear all your jewellery at once. British millionaires wear Marks & Spencer, and here, they wear Dolce & Gabbana, and that’s just what we do.”

“’In the UK, you're meant to turn your lights off at 7 and share a bath with your family’. Sorry, what? #insidedubai," Twitter user Victoria Evans wrote.

“Literally showing the worst of Dubai. And embellishing certain things for controversy. @bbc #insidedubai,” another wrote.

However, not all comments about the show were negative.

Bernie Peters said the programme was fascinating, while another user tweeted to say it had spurred her to book a holiday to the city.

People were also quick to point out that discrepancies in wealth can be found in all cities.

“Seeing the haughty judgemental comments about #insidedubai you'd think that we didn't have exactly the same wealthy, vulgar opulence here in London,” wrote broadcaster Jasmine Dotiwala. “Open your eyes. We all have luxury and poverty.”

The third and final episode of Inside Dubai: Playground of the Rich, is on BBC Two in the UK next Monday at 9pm GMT.

Updated: January 11, 2022, 2:07 PM
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