The Book of Esther, one of the historical books in the Torah and the Old Testament, is known as a story of community, discrimination, and human ingenuity. It’s core to the Jewish holiday of Purim, with singing, feasting, and other merriment. And it’s unique as one of the few books in the Bible that doesn’t mention God. At all.

The legacy of the businessmen who built Hong Kong are all over the city. Bankers work in Chater House—named after Paul Chater, the Armenian businessman behind much of the city’s land reclamation (among many other things). The Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel sits along Mody Road, named after Hormusjee Naorojee Mody, a Parsi immigrant who helped found the University of Hong Kong. And that’s not including figures like Robert Hotung, the half-British, half-Chinese magnate who found more power in his Chinese identity.

When meeting an expatriate friend on my first trip to Dubai, the host at the restaurant where we were meeting quickly ushered me up to the second floor. For foreigners, he said—before handing me a wine list. Dubai’s tolerance of alcohol is a more formalized version of Muslim tolerance—and clandestine drinking—of alcohol that dates back to its very inception, despite religious commands to the contrary. Professor Rudi Matthee tells that story in Angels Tapping at the Wine-shop’s Door: A History of Alcohol in the Islamic World.