PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.
Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
JEAN WINTHER: Yes, I am.
SAGAL: You are on the show. Tell me who's calling.
WINTHER: This is Jean Winther. I'm in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
SAGAL: Where is Mount Pleasant, Mich.?
WINTHER: It's where Central Michigan University is.
SAGAL: Oh, that's awesome. And do you work there?
WINTHER: No. I'm retired. But I take classes in the fall each year.
SAGAL: Oh, that's terrific. What sort of things are you interested in learning?
WINTHER: Anything that looks interesting. And I don't have to do the work, and I don't get paid for it, so it's just great.
SAGAL: That's awesome.
LUKE BURBANK: Hey, you described working on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME as a panelist.
SAGAL: That's true.
SAGAL: Jean, welcome to the show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Chioke, what is Jean's topic?
CHIOKE I'ANSON: You've got Dubai problems.
SAGAL: The city of Dubai gets its name from the fact that no matter how expensive something is, people there do buy it.
SAGAL: Also, in Dubai, that joke would be punishable by death. Anyway...
SAGAL: All that wealth in Dubai comes with a price. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories of problems specific to Dubai. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. Ready to play?
SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Luke Burbank.
BURBANK: Aluk Verma (ph) is a 29-year-old social media celebrity from Dubai who got very rich and famous for being, well, rich and famous. He was one of his nation's first reality TV stars. Think of him sort of as the Tim Kardashian of the United Arab Emirates. So you might say it's somewhat ironic that it was a social media-related stunt that landed him in the hospital this week.
As the Khaleej Times reported, Verma was just the latest high-earner in the UAE to injure himself taking part in something called the Scrooge McDuck Challenge, where very rich people - let's be honest - very rich guys. Women would never be stupid enough to do this....
BURBANK: ...Liquidate their entire fortunes into gold, silver and diamonds, then fill a swimming pool with the treasure and then dive in.
BURBANK: The problem, as Verma and a surprisingly high number of other dudes in Dubai have learned through personal experience, is that Scrooge McDuck is a cartoon character.
BURBANK: And in the real world, where we all live, the treasures, though individually small, come together to form an impenetrable solid mass...
BURBANK: ...A mass that broke both of Verma's wrists, caused a compression fracture of his spine and left him with no actual memory of the event. The last thing I remember, I was at the bank, he told the newspaper. And then I was waking up in a hospital bed, and they were telling me I might lose the vision in my right eye because I'd gotten a doubloon stuck in it.
BURBANK: Doctors do expect Verma's memory to return eventually, and his wrists and back should heal just fine, too. The vision damage, though, in his eye - that might be permanent, something Verma is taking in stride. Worst-case scenario, he said from his hospital room, I'll have to wear a monocle, just like my new hero, Scrooge McDuck.
SAGAL: The Scrooge McDuck Challenge, in which...
SAGAL: ...A dumb, young rich guy jumped into all his money and badly hurt himself. Your next story of a Dubai don't comes from Roxanne Roberts.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: There's gold in them there chicken nuggets. Yes, behold the gold rush in the United Arab Emirates, where there's a race to see who can put the most edible gold on the most unlikely food - gold flake pizza, soup, French fries, cocktails and, of course, desserts, including red velvet cake with gold frosting and ice cream wrapped in 24-karat gold leaf. The gold doesn't add to the taste, but it looks great on Instagram. Not so much in person, though. Quote, "I had gold all over my teeth and mouth," Roger Aleman-Prado told The Wall Street Journal after trying a $75 gold cappuccino.
That hasn't stopped people from ordering $45 gold chicken nuggets, $99 gold hamburgers and, for $340, a 14-ounce sirloin steak wrapped in gold. Explained the general manager of the Four Seasons, quote, "it's absolutely excessive, and absolutely Dubai."
SAGAL: Too much gold in the food. Your last story of mo' (ph) money, mo' (ph) problems comes from Paula Poundstone.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Many residents of Dubai struggle to find uses for their money and, more importantly, uses for their money that highlight the fact that they have so much. The Peacock Company is there to help. Peacocks are to The Peacock Company what electric scooters are to the Bird company. Like the scooter users, Peacock users can use the Peacock app to find where there is a peacock to rent nearest them.
POUNDSTONE: And the company provides thousands. Or they may just trip over one on the street and use their app to pay to rent it. The peacocks are tethered to docks that have been installed throughout the city of the overly indulged. Why rent a peacock? Because you can.
And people do. A peacock fanning its glorious tail feathers is like the user fanning out a fat stack of cash. It's a status symbol that poops.
POUNDSTONE: Peacocks are also noisy. The burden is most noticeable in elevators. Dubai prides itself on high-rise buildings, and peacock renters have discovered that the birds are afraid of heights. Peacocks fly, but they don't go very high. And on an elevator, they pass out at about the sixth floor...
POUNDSTONE: ...But not before they lose their lunch at the fifth.
SAGAL: All right. One of these is a problem...
SAGAL: ...That people have encountered in the ultra-rich Gulf city of Dubai. Is it, from Luke Burbank, the Scrooge McDuck Challenge, in which at least one wealthy idiot injured himself by converting all his money into cash and trying to dive into it; from Roxanne Roberts, the story of how it's impossible to find anything to eat in Dubai that isn't covered with gold; or, from Paula Poundstone, the rent-a-peacock app, which has resulted in just too many peacocks in the city of Dubai? Which of these is the real story of troubles in that paradise?
WINTHER: I think, because it's so stupid, I'm going to go with No. 2, the gold-covered food.
SAGAL: Too much food...
SAGAL: ...Covered in too much gold. You've chosen Roxanne's story because it sounds stupid enough to do. Well, we spoke to somebody who reported on this bizarre phenomenon.
MICHAEL AMON: While it doesn't have any real taste, restaurants will serve you gold flakes instead of Parmesan cheese and gold-wrapped steaks.
SAGAL: That was Michael Amon, The Wall Street Journal's deputy bureau chief...
SAGAL: ...To the Middle East and North Africa. He wrote the story about gold taking over the dining scene in Dubai. Congratulations, Jean. You got it right.
WINTHER: You're welcome.
SAGAL: You earned a point for Roxanne Roberts. You've won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Congratulations.
SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing with us today.
WINTHER: You're welcome.
SAGAL: Take care. Bye-bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE'RE IN THE MONEY (THE GOLDDIGGERS' SONG)")
BING CROSBY: (Singing) We're in the money. We're in the money. We've got a lot of what it takes to get along. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.