Find the latest episode of "This Is Uncomfortable" here. Listen
The Middle East @ Work

The Soul of the Future

Meaw Mar 11, 2008

This room has fluorescent lights, white and blue tiles on the walls. This room doesn’t have a whole lot of light. If I had to guess I’d say I am in a hospital waiting room somewhere in Queens, New York. I can’t find the glamour. There is something odd about this room. When we finally board in our Boeing 777 I am still trying to figure out what’s odd about that situation. I go to the bathroom and only then I realize that there is a PA system playing music across the plane. Some innocuous music coming out of a movie about the future. I can’t recall ever hearing any music when boarding a plane. But maybe I was just not paying attention. And why am I paying attention now?
The flight from Cairo to Dubai is about three hours. Emirates is supposed to become the biggest airline in the world at some point in the near future. This plane is quite fancy. The food is quite fancy… we even get to see the plane take off on the screens across the plane. They placed a camera in the front of the plane. So you see those lights on the runway passing faster, faster, faster and finally… the stars. No one in this plane seems very surprised by this. I am so surprised, I take out the video camera and I start shooting the TV monitor. The flight attendants, who had been wearing some sort of traditional hats while we were boarding the place, now don’t have any hats. And they don’t look very Middle Eastern to me. They look more like… Scandinavian models. The luxury of this plane, the food, the staff… none of that fits with us, the people on the plane… regular people… Workers, visitors with not too much money, a pair of surprised public radio producers. No one seems very excited in this plane. Is this what the future will look like? A calm, somehow melancholic, un-surprised, luxurious, apathetic, melting pot? Either I am missing something big here, or the future has no soul.

— Miguel Macias

Marketplace is on a mission.

We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.

Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?

Your donation is critical to the future of public service journalism. Support our work today – for as little as $5 – and help us keep making people smarter.