In a fictional Gulf country, with its gleaming glass towers and imported greenery, the routine of day-to-day life is suddenly interrupted when the national football team qualifies for the World Cup. The Emir issues an edict ordering all native Emiratis to travel to France to support the team, leaving the country to the care of its imported labor. How do they handle such newly found freedom? As though steered by a perverse blend between Dante and Scheherazade, we descend layer by layer beneath the façade of modernity: from the colorful multilingual throngs rejoicing for the Emirati team to the hierarchies that underpin them, from the luxurious gardens and swimming pools into the darker secrets of the bedroom, from the rigid and inhibiting strictures of the present to a remote age of innocence. Three narratives interweave to form a tight and thought-provoking examination of the psychology of control. Drumbeat received the Sawiris Foundation Award for Egyptian Literature.