Dubai: World’s Trade Center?

These images tell a sto­ry.

ch9_4 300px-Burj_Dubai

The Twin Tow­ers, a sym­bol of US cap­i­tal­is­tic super­pow­er, have col­lapsed. The US is busy fight­ing the war against ter­ror.

In the mean­while, Burj Dubai, the tallest free stand­ing struc­ture in the world, just reached a soar­ing 574.5m (1,885 ft) with 154 com­plet­ed sto­ries. It is pre­dict­ed to be the tallest man-made struc­ture in the world, as well as the tallest build­ing by any mea­sure. It’s offi­cial web site is here. Note the ‘.com’ address of its URL, it’s not a cryp­tic ‘.ae’ address.

Here are some of the amaz­ing devel­op­ments in Dubai:

  • Dubai’s rev­enues from oil and nat­ur­al gas cur­rent­ly account for less than 3% of the emirate’s rev­enues.
  • Dubai Mall aims to be the largest mall in the world when com­plet­ed.
  • Its port, Jebel Ali, con­struct­ed in the 1970s, has the largest man-made har­bor in the world.
  • The Burj al-Arab, a lux­u­ry hotel in Dubai, at 321 meters (1,053 ft), is the tallest build­ing used exclu­sive­ly as a hotel.
  • Dubai World Cen­tral will have the Dubai World Cen­tral Inter­na­tion­al Air­port, the world’s largest pas­sen­ger and car­go hub.
  • It is a hub for ser­vice indus­tries such as IT and finance. Dubai Inter­net City, com­bined with Dubai Media City includes IT firms such as EMC Cor­po­ra­tion, Ora­cle Cor­po­ra­tion, Microsoft, and IBM, and media orga­ni­za­tions such as MBC, CNN, Reuters and AP.
  • The World is a man-made arch­i­pel­ago of 300 islands in the shape of a world map cur­rent­ly being built off the coast of Dubai.
  • Dubai Finan­cial Market’s trad­ing vol­ume stood at about 400 bil­lion shares worth US$ 95 bil­lion. The DFM had a mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion of about US$ 87 bil­lion.
  • The Palm Islands in Dubai are the three largest arti­fi­cial islands in the world.
  • Dubai Health­care City is sched­uled to open by 2010 to pro­mote med­ical tourism.
  • Dubai­land is an enter­tain­ment com­plex under devel­op­ment, to include mega-tracts of var­i­ous kinds of attrac­tions.
  • The Dubai Water­front is pro­posed to become the largest water­front and largest man-made devel­op­ment in the world.

Is any­one observ­ing the con­trast? While the US is strug­gling to fight a war against ter­ror, a coun­try right in the mid­dle east is stealth­ily ris­ing eco­nom­i­cal­ly — with­out rely­ing on oil — in the glob­al econ­o­my. The con­trast is stark. The US has to real­ize and focus on its core strengths, if it wants to remain an eco­nom­ic super­pow­er, and not be swayed to dis­trac­tion with the war against ter­ror.

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  • Dubai doesn’t have to face as many exter­nal threats as the Unit­ed States does, so they do not have to wor­ry about any war on ter­ror. You can’t real­ly com­pare the actions of the two gov­ern­ments, can you?

  • Mahen­dra: Very inter­est­ing!

    On my flight back from Ban­ga­lore to Lon­don last year, I took aer­i­al pho­tos of Dubai’s two man-made islands, in the shape of palm trees.

    FWIW, I think I would any­day pre­fer the rel­a­tive (to Europe) cul­tur­al desert of New York or even back­wa­ters of Kansas than the real and absolute desert that Dubai is. I have some friends and fam­i­ly there, in cushy jobs who — but for the mon­ey — can­not wait to leave Dubai.

    Since you like PF:
    Mon­ey, get away.
    Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay!
    Mon­ey, it’s a gas.
    Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash..

    That is what the world is all about.

  • Vivek Khad­pekar


    //Dubai’s rev­enues from oil and nat­ur­al gas cur­rent­ly account for less than 3% of the emirate’s revenues.//

    Now THAT is impres­sive! The rest is all a mat­ter of pri­or­i­ties.

  • Dijo: Thanks. No, I’m not sim­ply com­par­ing actions of the two gov­ern­ments, but rather jux­ta­pos­ing the state of these two coun­tries and observ­ing the sad irony of the sit­u­a­tion.

    Would the US be con­tent in stag­nat­ing while fight­ing the war on ter­ror? Why, in the first place, does it face as many exter­nal threats as it does?

  • She­faly: Thanks. I tend to ful­ly agree with you but request you not to make assump­tions about a place based on your aer­i­al view from a plane. 🙂

    I have lived in Dubai for a short while, and my sis­ter & her fam­i­ly has been stay­ing there for years. It is not as bad as you might think. If it was, it wouldn’t have flour­ished as a tourist des­ti­na­tion at all.

    How­ev­er, com­ing back to the top­ic of the post: look what they’ve made of this desert! Look how their econ­o­my is flour­ish­ing not from oil but from trade! Look how a bar­ren desert is one of the top tourist des­ti­na­tions in the world today!

    They deserve full cred­it for doing it via entire­ly peace­ful means. And the US is busy fight­ing so many battles…some of its own cre­ation.

  • Vivek: Thanks! Yes, isn’t that amaz­ing!

    Also, hav­ing pri­or­i­ties and achiev­ing them are two dif­fer­ent things. Dubai is achiev­ing its pri­or­i­ties. Democ­ra­cies like US and India seem to have no inkling of what their pri­or­i­ties are, for­get achiev­ing them.

  • Arent they also mak­ing islands in shapes of all the con­ti­nents?
    Cool stuff.

  • Yes Mad­huri — that is “The World” — a man-made arch­i­pel­ago that I’ve men­tioned…

  • Mahen­dra:

    I tend to ful­ly agree with you but request you not to make assump­tions about a place based on your aer­i­al view from a plane”.

    The first sen­tence in my com­ment had noth­ing to do with the rest of the com­ment (Mea cul­pa, I should have made that clear­er). It was only a drop towards say­ing “look what they also made”!

  • I did not know that Dubai was doing so well..I guess they need not wor­ry that their tow­er will ever be bombed!

  • Nita: Yes, that is why I said ‘stealth­ily’.

    It is almost as if some clever Arabs have played a Queens Gam­bit on the US, so that they’re dis­tract­ed by fight­ing the war against ter­ror by invad­ing for­eign nations, while Dubai con­tin­ues to forge ahead eco­nom­i­cal­ly, unseen by most world observers (except the tourists)!

  • Vivek Khad­pekar


    //Democracies like US and India seem to have no inkling of what their pri­or­i­ties are, for­get achiev­ing them.//

    Don’t you think that the diver­si­ty of opin­ion which leads to such lack of clar­i­tiy on pri­or­i­ties, is in fact a pre­cious dimen­sion of democ­ra­cy?

  • Vivek Khad­pekar


    //Queen’s gambit//

    Do your inter­ests also include chess?

  • Vivek: //Don’t you think that the diver­si­ty of opin­ion which leads to such lack of clar­i­tiy on pri­or­i­ties, is in fact a pre­cious dimen­sion of democracy?//
    This ques­tion is increas­ing­ly being asked in the con­text of Chi­na and India, where the Chi­nese dic­ta­tor­ship is forg­ing ahead with reforms and infra­struc­tur­al fund­ing, in a uni­lat­er­al way, while India as a democ­ra­cy is floun­der­ing. In this debate, I’ve always stood by India, as I val­ue democ­ra­cy more.

    So yes, a very inter­est­ing ques­tion and my response is yes, I do think that diver­si­ty of opin­ion is a pre­cious dimen­sion of democ­ra­cy. How­ev­er, Indi­ans do not seem to either under­stand or val­ue what democ­ra­cy means. It is increas­ing­ly being used as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of mob vio­lence and social cen­sor­ship. Indi­an democ­ra­cy is flawed at the very lev­el of its Con­sti­tu­tion. Para­phras­ing Ergo, Democ­ra­cy can be a very dan­ger­ous thing if let loose in the hands of the major­i­ty. That is what is hap­pen­ing in India today.

    //Do your inter­ests also include chess?//
    Those who’ve been fol­low­ing my new­born blog of six months no longer seem to be sur­prised at my var­ied inter­ests. 🙂 Yes, apart from sketch­ing, hav­ing an IT job, run­ning a restau­rant, study­ing music, phi­los­o­phy, astron­o­my, and many oth­er things, one of the things I was good at when I was young, was chess. Today, it’s most­ly a hob­by and my inter­ests lie in the AI vs. human aspect of it. I still enjoy replay­ing Deep Blue vs. Kas­parov with the com­men­tary, and still am shak­en from the ground up by Deep Blue’s Re1-c1 move in the 2nd match.

    I’m sur­prised you caught that piece in my com­ment! 🙂

  • Fast Dots

    Good post Mahen­dra! It’s heart warm­ing to see man’s inge­nu­ity in action — wher­ev­er it may be. Dubai has been very smart about the way it has devel­oped itself to over­come reliance on oil mon­ey – not quite what the rest of the Mid­dle East is doing!

    I agree with you that Indi­an democ­ra­cy is flawed. How­ev­er, I don’t think that (clas­si­cal) lib­er­al democ­ra­cies can and should have pri­or­i­ties oth­er than nation­al defense and main­te­nance of law and order along the asso­ci­at­ed func­tions like pre­serv­ing indi­vid­ual rights. The US or the Indi­an gov­ern­ments shouldn’t even be think­ing of build­ing the worlds -est !

  • Fast­Dots: Thanks! Yes, it is indeed heart­warm­ing — you stole the words out my mouth. Isn’t the Burj Dubai amaz­ing!

    I do not under­stand your “How­ev­er”, because what you’re say­ing is exact­ly what I mean or hope a democ­ra­cy should be. No democ­ra­cy should have any oth­er pri­or­i­ties than nation­al defense, main­te­nance of law and order, and preser­va­tion of indi­vid­ual rights. Exact­ly what I think! Now, see what India has come to…

  • Vivek Khad­pekar

    //Ergo, Democ­ra­cy can be a very dan­ger­ous thing if let loose in the hands of the majority.//

    With­out para­phras­ing, I find that a very chill­ing sen­ti­ment. Even while para­phras­ing, I would sug­gest that Indi­an democ­ra­cy is flawed because it increas­ing­ly con­stricts the space for dis­course and debate for diver­gent opin­ions. And the guilty include not only the ide­o­log­i­cal brutes (whether eco­nom­ic, cul­tur­al, philo­soph­i­cal) but also those of us who acqui­esce.

    Your ver­sa­til­i­ty of Inter­est sug­gests to me a kin­dred soul. What kind of music do you study? My own inter­est in chess is not very deep. I played the game a bit when I was in my teens. Now, if I find two peo­ple engaged in it, I play along vic­ar­i­ous­ly. My involve­ment cer­tain­ly does not extend to recre­at­ing a par­tic­u­lar game of Kas­parov vs. Deep Blue and thrilling to a par­tic­u­lar move. That kind of delight, for me, comes from music, espe­cial­ly Hin­dus­tani Clas­si­cal.

  • It’s so inter­est­ing for me to read an hon­est, inter­na­tion­al per­spec­tive on the US and world affairs.

    It’s very iron­ic about Dubai’s wealth ver­sus the US wars, but at the same time, it makes sense. If Michael Moore’s film, Faren­heit 911 has any truth to it, the Bush fam­i­ly and the Saud­is go way back.

    If the prof­its in Dubai and oth­er sim­i­lar cities find their way into the pock­ets of US oil com­pa­nies, it would be in the best inter­est of US cor­po­ra­tions (a ref­er­ence to our Mon­roe doc­trine) to pro­tect Iraqi oil fields, and to stay qui­et about not receiv­ing more Mid­dle East­ern sup­port for the war.

    I total­ly agree with your view­point, which is prac­ti­cal and objec­tive. I hope to keep read­ing more posts like this one. It’s an edu­ca­tion for me.

  • Vivek: I am guilty of pick­ing out one state­ment from Ergo’s post. With­out the con­text of the whole post, it does seem chill­ing, and indeed it is.

    There were two post I’d linked to, and it is clear that we dif­fer in our view­points. My thoughts on this have not yet crys­tal­lized — it is a very big and com­plex top­ic for me, and I have not yet gained com­plete clar­i­ty on it.

    Regard­ing ver­sa­til­i­ty of inter­ests, as I said, I’m just a jack of it all, mas­ter of none. My inter­ests in music are var­ied — you can check out my Music cat­e­go­ry of posts to get a glimpse.

    I’ve been think­ing of post­ing more about music in gen­er­al, and your com­ment may have just pro­vid­ed the impe­tus for me…thanks!

  • Cristine: Thank you. I did watch 9/11 when I was in the US, and it pro­voked and dis­turbed me.

    The irony is too stark.

    Thank you again. I do keep writ­ing about Amer­i­ca from a polit­i­cal view­point, but am not always too sure of what I opine, as I’m after all a third par­ty observ­er. It is com­ments like yours and Paul’s that con­tin­ue to reaf­firm that I’m not very much astray in my per­spec­tive.

  • I sug­gest you read Noam Chomsky’s “What Uncle Sam Real­ly Wants”. Chom­sky argues in it that the USA must fight a war at all time to slow down the inescapable march towards fall from a “Worlds’ sole super-pow­er” to a “pow­er­ful State in the World posi­tion”. This is what he sug­gests is behind USA’s for­eign pol­i­cy ever since the end of the Cold War. What do you think about that?

  • THis is not relat­ed to the post, but I thought ill share it any­way. It’s always inter­est­ing to see how the “Tallest build­ing” record is anal­o­gous to our his­tor­i­cal mas­cu­line ten­den­cies of com­par­ing sizes all the time 😉

    Joseph Camp­bell points out that the tallest build­ing at any giv­en point of time in his­to­ry reveals some­thing very impor­tant about the era.
    For instance, till the eif­fel tow­er was built, the church steeple was always the high­est build­ing in any city/town. The eif­fel tow­er was the first sym­bol of the indus­tri­al revolution’s takeover of pow­er from reli­gion. Lat­er into the 20th cen­tu­ry of course, the tall build­ings of indus­tri­al era giants fade in com­par­i­son to the finan­cial giants of low­er man­hat­tan. And that’s where we are now. Finan­cial firms are the most pow­er­ful enti­ties in the world today.

    Per­haps Dubai sig­nals yet anoth­er shift — from pure finan­cial pow­er to a broad­er glob­al­iza­tion trend. The diver­si­ty of com­pa­nies set­tling down in Dubai is in stark com­par­i­son to NY which has always been the seat of Amer­i­can busi­ness, and not tru­ly a home for busi­ness­es from every part of the world.

  • Bruno: Thank you for your com­ments. I have not read Chomsky’s book. I would love to know more about the “inescapable” march towards a fall.

    What is the dif­fer­ence between “World’s sole super­pow­er” and “pow­er­ful State in the World posi­tion”? Is the USA con­tent in let­ting this fall come about? If that is so, then its for­eign pol­i­cy is not sur­pris­ing at all.

    Even if that is true, what is the “pow­er­ful State in the World posi­tion” com­ing to? If that is the objec­tive of America’s for­eign pol­i­cy, is it achiev­ing it?

  • Ashok: Yes, the tallest build­ing seems to epit­o­mize the male ten­den­cy of com­par­ing sizes!

    When the cap­i­tal­is­tic tow­ers rose above the reli­gious church­es, it was sym­bol­ic indeed.

    Dubai def­i­nite­ly shows a glob­al­iza­tion trend. By doing what it is, it is show­ing the world what glob­al­iza­tion is all about.

  • There are many oth­er rea­sons for my lik­ing Dubai.It is one place out­side India where you can talk in Hin­di and you are understood(I have seen Arabs speak­ing in Hin­di). Indi­an food is avail­able every­where not only the veg­e­tar­i­an stuff, even food with­out onion and garlic.The South Asian immi­grants out­num­ber the locals.It seems like we are in a neat and clean India.Law and order is no problem.Hindi films release there a day before India and tick­ets are avail­able.
    Well writ­ten as usu­al Mahen­dra.

  • Fast Dots


    I may have tak­en the nation­al pri­or­i­ties con­cept a lit­tle out of con­text — I apol­o­gize for that! I was just assum­ing that you meant India and the US should have pri­or­i­ties like build­ing grand things, for­get­ting for a moment who the state­ment is com­ing from!

    (Also, my ear­li­er post was just a tee­ny bit gar­bled — It seems like I cant use xml-esque tags in com­ments!!!)

  • wow! Of all the points this one is the most sur­pris­ing: “Dubai’s rev­enues from oil and nat­ur­al gas cur­rent­ly account for less than 3% of the emirate’s rev­enues.” I did not expect that. Do you know what their biggest sources of rev­enue are?

  • Echo Fast Dots on his first com­ment. Dubai was smart to diver­si­fy (and yes the build­ing looks stun­ning), but to com­pare (or jux­ta­pose) the two coun­tries has lit­tle mean­ing. They are two very dis­parate polit­i­cal-economies.

    And to fast­dots: man’s inge­nu­ity in action ??? maybe humankind’s inge­nu­ity is bet­ter, no? 😀

  • bher­oux

    Mahen­dra, my under­stand­ing is that the fact that USA was the only super-pow­er at the out­come of the cold war was con­jec­tur­al, geopo­lit­i­cal, and eco­nom­i­cal by nature: No oth­er coun­try came near at that time. As time pass­es by, some nations ben­e­fit from WTO agree­ments and rise as eco­nom­i­cal­ly strong nations.

    Also, the supe­ri­or­i­ty of the USA armed forces is wak­ened rel­a­tive­ly because some coun­tries have raised armies of many men. I don’t feel any­how like the USA (the State) wish­es to take such a fall.

    My feel­ing is rather that democ­ra­cy has been over­rid­den by cor­po­ra­tions, by their large and influ­en­tial share­hold­ers, and the for­eign pol­i­cy is elab­o­rat­ed in a way that serves their inter­ests best only, not those of the USA cit­i­zens in gen­er­al. The eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion of the USA, at this time of war, is a strong sug­ges­tion that the pol­i­cy is not good for its peo­ple. (Fed reserve as been keep­ing the rates very low for some time now — clear evi­dence of reces­sion.) Mean­while, petro­le­um indus­tries, banks, etc. have record­ed prof­its that are “out of charts”, sort of speak.

    BTW, I invite strong­ly USA read­ers to fur­ther com­ment on this top­ic. I am not a USA cit­i­zen myself. I come from Mon­tre­al (Que­bec) — Cana­da 😉

  • Ashok: I missed this impor­tant obser­va­tion in your com­ment: //The diver­si­ty of com­pa­nies set­tling down in Dubai is in stark com­par­i­son to NY which has always been the seat of Amer­i­can busi­ness, and not tru­ly a home for busi­ness­es from every part of the world.//

    Very nice­ly said!

    Pre­rna: Thank you. Yes, when I was in Dubai back in 1996, a Tamil friend of mine took me to eat authen­tic South Indi­an food. He told me that nowhere in India will you get authen­tic South Indi­an food in restau­rants the way they actu­al­ly pre­pare it at home. He took me to a restau­rant in Dubai that he said pre­pared dish­es exact­ly the way they made them at home! 🙂 Thanks again.

    Arun: Yes, sur­pris­ing indeed. Dubai’s oil reserves are expect­ed to be exhaust­ed in 20 years. Major rev­enue sources are trade — gold, IT and Finance indus­tries, finan­cial trad­ing mar­kets, and tourism. See here for more infor­ma­tion.

  • Fast Dots: Thanks for clar­i­fy­ing. No I didn’t mean India or US should start build­ing grand things, but I did mean that they need to focus on their economies and growth! And no, Word­Press doesn’t sup­port xml-esque tags, only basic HTM­Lesque ones! 🙂

    Dot­Mom: Jux­ta­pos­ing economies of these two coun­tries may have lit­tle mean­ing. My per­spec­tive in this jux­ta­po­si­tion is that the polit­i­cal super­pow­er democ­ra­cy is busy fight­ing Islamist-moti­vat­ed ter­ror­ism, while an Islamist non-demo­c­ra­t­ic autoc­ra­cy is boom­ing eco­nom­i­cal­ly.

  • Bher­oux: Thanks a lot for elab­o­rat­ing. The only coun­try which seems poised to chal­lenge USA’s eco­nom­ic supe­ri­or­i­ty in the future is Chi­na. I do not see any oth­er coun­try ben­e­fit­ing from WTO to any sig­nif­i­cant extent so as to chal­lenge the US. So I am not sure if I agree with Chom­sky.

    The US navy, air force, and army are still the strongest in the world (as far as I know), and yes, they def­i­nite­ly wouldn’t want that supe­ri­or­i­ty to be chal­lenged. How­ev­er, hav­ing a force and engag­ing it are two dif­fer­ent things. The lat­ter is where I think the US is fal­ter­ing!

    Your feel­ings of US democ­ra­cy being over­rid­den by cor­po­ra­tions is gain­ing more and more accep­tance. Some Amer­i­cans have also com­ment­ed like­wise on ear­li­er posts in this blog, so there does seem to be at least a sem­blance of truth to it. For exam­ple, the Iraq war being moti­vat­ed not by ratio­nal deci­sion-mak­ing regard­ing secu­ri­ty, but moti­vat­ed by cap­i­tal­ist objec­tives of oil.

    //BTW, I invite strong­ly USA read­ers to fur­ther com­ment on this top­ic. I am not a USA cit­i­zen myself. I come from Mon­tre­al (Que­bec) — Cana­da //
    I would too. But some­times, an out­siders per­spec­tive has more value…I myself am not from the US, but still have writ­ten this post! 🙂

  • Hi Mahen­dra,
    This is way off top­ic, but you have been tagged for a meme that is thought­ful and fun. I would love to here what you have to say.

    I believe that this more in line with the type of meme that you would par­tic­i­pate in.

  • The tower/building going up in Dubai is actu­al­ly over­tak­ing Canada’s CN Tow­er as the tallest struc­ture on the plan­et, some­thing the CN Tow­er has been for around thir­ty years.

    I think there’s a com­mon mis­un­der­stand­ing about the actu­al size of the Amer­i­can econ­o­my, and about the econ­o­my of the Mid­dle East in gen­er­al. First, the Mid­dle East doesn’t actu­al­ly pro­duce any­thing oth­er than oil. There are no indus­tries of note.

    Sec­ond is the sheer size of the Amer­i­can econ­o­my. The Japan­ese have the sec­ond largest econ­o­my (by GDP) at $4.8 Tril­lion. In the Mid­dle East Sau­di Ara­bia has a GDP of $282 Bil­lion; the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates $129.5B; Egypt $334.4B; Israel $170.3B. Cana­da, by com­par­i­son, is the world’s eighth largest econ­o­my at $1.18 Tril­lion. Mean­while the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca has the largest econ­o­my in the world at $13.06 Tril­lion. A lit­tle more per­spec­tive, the Amer­i­can state of Cal­i­for­nia has an econ­o­my equal to or greater than France. In terms of pur­chas­ing pow­er the Unit­ed States could buy the next eight economies and still have enough change to pick up the Mid­dle East as an impulse buy.

    When we talk about growth in terms of per­cent­age it’s very impor­tant to know the base num­bers. I’d mjuch rather have 1% of America’s annu­al growth than 20% of any­one else’s.

    I also don’t see Dubai becom­ing the cen­tre of world cap­i­tal, or much more than a tourist des­ti­na­tion. There’s just too much mon­ey in New York City, Tokyo and Lon­don… keep in mind, in terms of real estate, the World Trade Cen­ter was emp­ty for most of its lifes­pan. As a finan­cial­ly relevent build­ing it was most­ly a fail­ure. After 9/11 the archi­tects want­ed to build a series of much small­er build­ings, and the only rea­son the Amer­i­can archi­tects are going so big with the main replace­ment build­ing is because there was so much pub­lic pres­sure to rebuild “big­ger and bet­ter” as a ‘fuck you’ to the anti-Amer­i­can­ists. It has noth­ing to do with mak­ing the build­ing finan­cial­ly suc­cess­ful. What Dubai is doing archi­tec­tu­al­ly — and my step-father is a VP in the firm doing most of the work, his office is actu­al­ly design­ing 40 or 50 build­ings in Dubai — is an amaz­ing feat of pur­chas­ing pow­er but it’s the equiv­a­lent of watch­ing some­one build a 700,000sq ft man­sion for a sin­gle fam­i­ly. There’s no rea­son for the size except the size itself.

  • Gabriel: This is the first time you’re com­ment­ing on my blog, so I’m extreme­ly hap­py to wel­come you, and offer my grat­i­tude!

    Thanks for putting things into per­spec­tive. What I find miss­ing in your com­ment talk­ing about the size of the economies is:

    1. Trade deficit

    2. Rel­a­tive size of the coun­tries

    3. Focus of the post

    I am not com­par­ing sizes of the economies of the US and UAE. Giv­en the small size of Dubai and the UAE, look at what it is achiev­ing in eco­nom­ic (not just archi­tec­tur­al) terms. And look­ing at the size of the US, see where it is going.

    The US trade deficit is alarm­ing what­ev­er the size of its econ­o­my. See what it is pre­oc­cu­pied with, and what the UAE is pre­oc­cu­pied with. Dubai/UAE are no longer depen­dent on its oil. That is the con­trast that I want­ed to put for­ward in this post.

    Of course, Dubai will nev­er become cen­ter of world cap­i­tal as things stand today. But if you look at how it has become the cen­ter for bul­lion exchange, it is mind-bog­gling.

    If UAE and oth­er mid­dle east coun­tries were to unite, reduce their depen­dence on oil, and fol­low Dubai’s path, how good will it be for all the rest of the world?!

  • Hi MMP,

    I’ve already respond­ed to this meme ear­li­er:

    Thanks so much again, for think­ing of me to pass this one!

  • Dubai is not a coun­try, it’s an Emi­rate — or Province / State such as New Brunswick, Maha­rash­tra, Wales or Vir­ginia. Togeth­er with six oth­er Emi­rates, Dubai forms the fed­er­al sys­tem called the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates. The UAE does not fol­low Dubai, pol­i­cy for Dubai – includ­ing the bud­get for the con­struc­tion — is decid­ed by the fed­er­a­tion.

    Thir­ty per­cent of the UAE’s GDP relies on oil, which is why the UAE province/emirate of Dubai is becom­ing an eco­nom­ic cen­tre for that oil wealth. There is no oth­er rea­son for Dubai’s wealth. Dubai may have lit­tle of the UAE’s oil, but the province is entire­ly depen­dent on oil mon­ey. No oil, or if oil prices were to revert back to pre-9/11 prices, Dubai would revert back as well. As a result the UAE, along with OPEC, are extreme­ly pre­oc­cu­pied with exact­ly the same issues the American’s are.

    The mas­sive con­struc­tion projects will only work if there are peo­ple and rea­sons for the build­ings to be filled. As of right now, there aren’t. This is why I brought up the WTC being a fail­ure, it was nev­er even close to full occu­pan­cy despite being in the finan­cial cap­i­tal of the world. There is just no demand for that much office space, espe­cial­ly as their main client pool would be Mid­dle East­ern firms, also because there’s just no rea­son for Euro­pean or Amer­i­can firms to move to such a remote loca­tion.

    Polit­i­cal­ly and eco­nom­i­cal­ly the Mid­dle East is already thor­ough­ly joined/united through OPEC. As oil is the Mid­dle East’s only real indus­try, OPEC is the only orga­ni­za­tion the Mid­dle East needs. If there were oth­er indus­tries of any size there would be a need for oth­er orga­ni­za­tions like the Euro­pean Union or NAFTA.

    Reduc­ing the Mid­dle East’s reliance on oil rev­enue is a gen­er­a­tional chal­lenge, it means cre­at­ing actu­al indus­tries. Even now the Mid­dle East Oil Work­force is made up most­ly of peo­ple from “oth­er coun­tries”, as is a large part of the ser­vice indus­try.

    There’s an argu­ment to be made for the Dubai con­struc­tion being a diver­si­fi­ca­tion into tourism, but those man-made islands are actu­al­ly sink­ing and tourism to the Mid­dle East from Europe, Cana­da and Amer­i­ca is insignif­i­cant.

    Dubai has been rel­e­vant for as long as the con­struc­tion projects have con­tin­ued, but once they’re done focus on the Province will die off.

    Dubai has been a place for gold / sil­ver bul­lion trad­ing for a few gen­er­a­tions, it’s not some­thing which has just popped up. What is new is the tech­nol­o­gy intro­duced a few years ago to bring the DGCX up to the tech lev­el of the NYSE, TSX and FTSE. It’s the only exchange in the Mid­dle East (out­side of Israel) to do so — or even have a need to do so. But, still, the DGCX is tiny in com­par­i­son as it does so very lit­tle except bul­lion.

    The Amer­i­can trade num­bers are huge from every angle — pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives — but the neg­a­tives are entire­ly man­age­able. Trade deficits and debt can be fixed when and even before they become a prob­lem… which they aren’t.

    I’m pret­ty sure I’ve left a few com­ments before… at least one. But you’re right, I don’t very often and it’s some­thing I’ve been mean­ing to fix…

  • Fast Dots


    Out of curios­i­ty — why do you think the trade deficit is a prob­lem?

  • one of my friend said “All the cranes of the world are in Dubai now.…”

    I think their is nev­er a dan­ger of Tsunami…so the Palm will survive..The king is fasi­nat­ed by the WEST..and his try­ing to prove a point..

  • Gabriel: Thanks for the extreme­ly enlight­en­ing com­ment. This sheds much more light into the sit­u­a­tion than my post did, and I am very grate­ful.

    I was not aware of all these facets of Dubai’s sit­u­a­tion and again thank you for the knowl­edge.

    Fast Dots: I am not an econ­o­mist so I don’t know how impor­tant it is, but I thought it was a prob­lem from what­ev­er I’d read so far. If it isn’t, I would stand cor­rect­ed!

    Nitin: Yes, you’re prob­a­bly right. It may be just a mat­ter of eye-catch­ing con­struc­tion and noth­ing else!

  • The Burj Dubai is a mod­ern mar­vel of engi­neer­ing it stands at 818 metres tall. The Burj Dubai will have its grand open­ing on the 1st of Decem­ber this year.