What a surprise. The emperor is indeed naked.

30 Nov, '09

Dubai, which until last week loomed tall – literally – as an enterprising, cosmopolitan, glitzy and happy antithesis to the Middle East’s economic stagnation, has now emerged as a sad monument to all that is ill about the pan-Arab economy, which includes more than a quarter-billion people but is smaller than Spain’s.

Read the full article here. But don’t expect much to really change without a real democracy answerable to the people being just a pipe dream. For now anyway.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Anonny says:

    Democracy?

    Let’s assume that America is a democracy wherein the governing officials are accountable to the people. Their Wall Street bailout was Pharonic (you can spell that “mor….” if you want). Dubai’s government could solve this very quickly if they wanted to. Abu Dhabi could probably solve it within a nanosecond if they wanted to. But they didn’t. It seems they are being more sensible than the US right now.

    OK, it’s big and it hurts, but it doesn’t have to be the end of Dubai. Certain people will now be a little more careful.

    Wishful thinking by Mr. Hasud of the Jerusalem post, just possibly? I bet _he_ could suggest ways of making money from tonnes of left-over concrete. 😉 I’m amused by his snooty tone and self-righteous utterings about transparency too.
    Oh, the irony.

    Dubai has been pretty transparent about this affair. Announcements were made. Everybody knows about it. However bad Dubai gets, it’s a source of a huge amount of remittances by people who work hard to improve worse pre-existing situations that they endured in their not-so-transparent home countries. Let’s not be so quick to gloat, eh? Unless we are one of the angelic few who have never benefitted from the presence of cheap labour from other countries, of course …

    • mahmood says:

      Forget the messenger, just concentrate on the message.

      With transparency, everyone wins.

      Our regimes are not transparent.

      Promising mirages are the rule, and people generally believe them under one guise or another; especially when cloaked with religiosity. We see that on a daily basis.

      Hence, without transparency and without being held responsible by and for the people, it’s anyone’s game. That’s why Ghawar Eltoshé’s “harat kil min eedo ilu” (grab what you can when you can sort of thing and to hell with everyone else) stands as an eternal truth!

  2. Ali says:

    What do Emarati’s think? This this is all a lie? That their leader was simply wrong on how he managed ‘Dubai Inc.’? That this was bound to happen? What does this say about relations within the UAE? It feels like each emirate is at it alone doesn’t it? How can their President Sh. Khalifa allowed Dubai to go down? I mean win the fight but don’t take the UAE and neighboring countries down with you! Anyway this tarnishes the stability and trust with the region. There will be no safe ‘economic hub’ in this region for a while, that’s for sure!

  3. Meggie Whetstone says:

    I dare say each emirate is indeed alone, you are never more alone than when you have spent a vast amount of borrowed money and you find you can’t pay it back.

    Mahmood is right. Transparency is vital in these matters. Otherwise you end up falling for scams, ponzi schemes, and you end up buying sub-prime mortgages bundled up with a few good ones. It happens in the western world too. If someone is pretending to be such a hot-shot, so clever, that you could never comprehend what he is doing, run the other way.

    And Dubai went crazy over one economic sector, they put all their eggs in one basket- luxury property development. No industrial estates, no new technologies, no software houses. They couldn’t even be bothered to sort out their sewage treatment, and the Palm project started to stink long ago. Quite literally.

    And they built it all with foreign labour, foreign architects, and foreign engineers. So now the indigenous folk of Dubai have acquired no new skills and expertise.

    Ultimately, when all the muck settles after a nasty shake-up, you rise or fall on the basis of your real assets. And your people, and their skills, are the best natural asset you can have. And stability of your financial and business environment is another one.

    Mark my words, Saudi will end up on skid row one day. And I dread to think how they are going to sustain their population when that day comes.

  4. Meggie Whetstone says:

    Been forgetting me manners lately.

    Please pass on my best wishes to Frances. I do hope she is well. Also the little-uns. Hope they are still making the most of their musical talents in the orchestra.

  5. Anon- 4 ever says:

    It is not necessarily a bad thing to build the whole city on debts, as a matter of fact all those huge economies have done the same. I think Dubai was just unlucky –time wise – yes they did focus on luxury sh** but that is what big financial institue are looking for when it comes to investing in real estate and related projects. Now financial insitutes don’t have the money to invest, bank don’t have money to lend – on contrary they are after their money like a hungry lion, rich individuals are holding back putting their money anywhere, all this put Dubai in a really bad situation. I feel sorry for them. The whole economy down turn is far from over and if Abudhabi (the big sister state) doesn’t interfere in a bailout then Dubai will just sink faster they could have imagined.

    “There will be no safe ‘economic hub’ in this region for a while, that’s for sure!” I agree and yet I cant convince myself that is it true. Slower countries like Qatar and Bahrain might shine soon! Well, lets hope so at least.

  6. Solomon2 says:

    With transparency, everybody wins – but with obscurity, those at the top win more. So until the rulers change their own hearts, or the people take to the street to demand democracy, why would anything change?

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