As leisure time has increased dramatically since 1965, exotic new destinations have become the ultimate way to spend a holiday. Paris, Rome, London, Dubai. Dubai? Let’s be honest for a second, the media has been giving all the Middle Eastern cities a hard time except for Dubai because it has established itself as a great influential social and economic hub for the rest of the world. The long sandy seashores that reach down to the clear blue water of the Arabian Gulf. The spectacular shopping malls, landscapes and metropolitan atmosphere that has labeled Dubai as one of the greatest tourist as well as business destinations in the Middle East. A rising empire which presents you with the best of both worlds: A place where modern sophistication blends in with the historic core of the Middle East – the ultimate place where East meets West.
Now we´ve all seen or heard about the only Seven-star hotel or the world’s tallest skyscraper that are both located in Dubai. But I keep asking my self, “how in the hell did this desert turn into a urbanized cosmopolitan city of a GDP of over 82 billion dollars in the period of 20 years?” I honestly don’t get it! So I looked it up, I was dying to know how this happened! You don’t just wake up one morning thinking, “I’m going to turn this desert into an astonishing empire with the most sophisticated technology and refined skyline”, or do you?
Let me bore you with some history; they found oil! I’m guessing you’re not surprised, but here is what might; no other economy on earth took such an advantage of its oil resources as Dubai did in the late 60s. Now you can only imagine how the investments started flowing in, with several billion-dollar corporations that started flirting with the idea of getting a piece of the projected action. A free-trade center that became a channel for much of the initial igniting trade and market. And this exploded over a period of 20 years, where remarkable infrastructures and businesses were developed with the help of highly skilled expatriates.
Now this global economic hub has attracted hundreds of large foreign investors, putting their Foreign Direct Investments flows into the UAE around 8.9 billion dollars, with Dubai accounting for almost 90 percent of the flows due to its attractive life-style and cosmopolitan atmosphere. Multinationals such as Microsoft, Google and Coca Cola have outsourced their corporations into Dubai to have a piece of the big oily pie.
So alright, we get it. The Arabs invested a bunch of oil and liquefied it into Benjamins. But still, money doesn’t necessarily result in efficiency, does it? Dubai, along with the majority of the UAE’s emirates, uses foreign expatriates to build astonishing constructions in crazy time-spans. I mean the Empire State Building could be rebuilt in the same time it took to build the Ferrari World – about 14 months.
As a result of the great business and technological resources that are available in Dubai, the native Emiratis are now outnumbered in their own country, but what wouldn’t you do for money? They are outnumbered at a ratio of 11 to 1, meaning they only make up 9% of the population! To put it frank, you’re more likely to speak English to a beautiful European hotty, than speak Arabic…to anyone. To a country that is surrounded by neighboring cities like Abu Dhabi and Oman, I honestly don’t know how they pulled it off.
They´ve got the money, resources and connections: the question is, how long will it last? Dubai’s late Sheikh said it best “My granddad used to ride a camel, my father did the same, I have been driving a Mercedes and my son uses a Land Rover. Perhaps his son will also do the same, but there is no guarantee down the lane that somebody will not be riding camels again.” If you’re an environmental freak, you should be understanding that he´s referring to the scarcity of their oil reserves. But as technology is blasting through the roof, renewable energy can take the UAE in a long ride before anything crumbles down.
Dubai won’t just survive, it will thrive – because it’s bursting with ambition and drive, all lead by one man’s extraordinary vision and utter determination to turn this place into the biggest and most successful city in the world.