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Dubai: The Modern Day Gold Rush

Dubai, the glorified capital of the Middle East, the shining lantern of the UAE, which has, all on its own, put itself on the international stage and forced the world to recognize it as the ultimate “IT” city, taking on global heavy-weights such as New York, Milano, Shanghai and even Paris – an achievement no other Arab country has ever managed to achieve.

You see, it took Dubai only 18 years to establish itself as one of the leading business-hubs of this great-interconnected globe. It has incorporated state of the art infrastructures within a mind-blowing business environment that has put the Emirate on a world-class pedestal no one can overtake. It’s an emerging economy that has shown tremendous potential and astonishing business opportunities, which has, for years now, won them universal praise thanks to Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid’s extraordinary vision.

Though what has attracted the worlds’ most exclusive brands, most iconic names, wealthiest individuals and millions of tourists to this utopia, is its strategic tax-free location, which has combined the best of both worlds – West, and East. This strategic crossroads wowed the greatest multinationals, so it comes as no surprise to see GM, H&M or Luis Vuitton opening new offices next to Burj Khalifa, making from the city their new home or headquarters in order to reach out to essential markets in Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Asian Subcontinent and even the Eastern Mediterranean. Why is this such a strategic business location? The UAE’s neighboring regions have a population of over 2 billion people and a collective GDP of over $6.7 trillion. Now that’s digits you want to hear!

Today, Dubai has established itself as the most logical and rational place to do business in in the Middle East as it provides entrepreneurs, investors and anyone else with a solid business mind-set with a one-of-a-kind value added business platform that cant be matched by any other place in the region. Aside from appealing financial advantages, the great Emirati state offers a grand quality lifestyle that truly will blow your mind. With over the top domestic and office accommodations and exceptional health, shopping and educational facilities, including their wide range of leisure and entertainment choices, it’s no wonder Dubai was awarded the Expo 2020 based on its remarkable vision “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.”

So what makes this place such an incredible place for entrepreneurs? What makes this booming-city the ultimate place to take on your business venture? Well, we are about to reveal the secrets of this incredible Emirate and its business potentials, thriving markets, existing demand, adequate services – everything you have to know to make it all the way to the top  – in Dubai.

An Eastern City In A Western Society

Lets start with the good stuff! Tourism is Dubai’s most obvious, and undeniably, greatest asset – the only thing that’s been keeping this place alive. Nevertheless, this place is thriving with a heartbeat unlike any other, rewarding its people with nothing but the best. The people? Well, mostly foreigners.

You see, native Emiratis are as outnumbered as the number of Kardashians in central Park. They´re outnumbered at a crazy ratio of 11 to 1 – eleven to one! They officially now only make 9% of the population; meaning 91% are expats and foreigners. So how do you wrap your head around that? How do you adjust, business-wise, to a city that’s rapidly shifting, or rather adopting, the European lifestyle and demographics into their Middle Eastern sheikdom? You adapt! You adapt your business-frame just like Dubai has been doing for years now in order to sustain a politically and socially stable yet economically dynamic European routine that attracts the most powerful brands, names and skylines into their city.

So the secret to Dubai’s hidden treasures? Satisfy the upper income level expats! Now I know it sounds like I’m overdoing it with the whole “western” thing, but just imagine Europe without the shitty weather and over-enthusiastic taxes – that’s Dubai!

There is a bunch of different successful “areas of business” in Dubai that´ll make expats go crazy, areas with absolutely mind-blowing cash-flow potential. I’m talking about everything from Media and Entertainment to Retail and Transportation. But really, there are three “hotspots” you should keep your eyes on. Here, let me give you a tour.

Since foreigners have rapidly mobilized themselves inside the walls of Dubai, western concepts, products and services have exploded in order satisfy the high demand. Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, Harvey Nichols, Zara, – these are just a fraction of Dubai high FDI level, an investment that’s well worth the hustle. Offshoring any European “hit” into Dubai will make it big. Just look at the massive variety of European and North American brands and products around here; Hello Magazine, H&M, IHOP even freaking Dunkin Donuts has made it on the list! Not feeling like extending another corporate chain? You got your own entrepreneurial playground at your disposal – a playground a lot of high rollers have been playing in. Candylisiouse, the worlds’ largest candy store has been hitting it big in Dubai Mall and I can assure you it ain’t here just to satisfy the local’s sweet tooth. Skydive-Dubai, well I doubt that Emiratis are the majority of those jumping out of airplanes to get a glance of the Atlantis. Even several liquor stores have opened up in Dubai to make it feel a little more like home and enables you to have that “god ol´ Thursday night beer.

You see, great, but really not that “brainy”, entrepreneurial business ideas have been providing the foreigners with the perfect amount of territorial and “home-reminding” dose of products and services that, with the sunny weather and no-tax haven, will set them here for a long enough time till another foreign, business-hungry, tired-of-the-shitty-weather generation comes along. You see, it’s not that difficult to implement European business frames into a city that evolves around cosmopolitanism, business and affluence.

So do you research, check out the market and think about what rolling business concept in Europe could skyrocket in Dubai. The whole diet and “looking fit” community is a huge market in Dubai, so why not: Set up America’s famous salad bars? Or how about UKs’ well-known RAW-food whole stores? If you’re not into the whole “eating and looking” healthy two-faced concept, sugar always hits a home run. Scandinavia’s famous candy-shops definitely have the cash-flow potential, especially during the regions most important holy month, Ramadan. And that was just off the top of my head – do your research and I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Real Estate, An Absolut Gold Rush

Extravagance and Dubai truly walk hand in hand, and Real Estate in Dubai is surely not an exception. As Dubai lies at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Asia, it has become a global investment hub, presenting one of the worlds’ strongest performing and fastest growing high-end luxury property markets, with high net-worth individuals pumping and stashing their dollars into tax-free investments like real estate.

To give you a perspective of why this industry is so appealing, let me hit you up with some numbers. You see, in 2013 Dubai’s population rose by an incredible 5 percent, making it over 2 million according to the latest official government statistics. This gives you a slightly clearer perspective of Dubai’s westernization as only 10 to 15% of those new residents where Emirati nationals according to Gulf News. To take it a step further, Dubai’s population is projected to skyrocket by the end of 2014 as Dubai prepares to host the Expo 2020 and paves the way for  a variety of business and entrepreneurial opportunities to attract the masses!

With a population increasing at a crazy rate, infrastructure at a sicker rate and sales flying out of the roof, an obvious business opportunity presents itself – Real Estate!

Real Estate has always been a hot industry due to the floods of people moving into this place. To give you a quick perspective of the market here, The Palm Jumeirah, the world’s only artificial man-made palm looking island, sold 4000 households in its first 72 hours in 2001 – and that was before a brick was even laid. Celebrity footballers like David Beckham, Ashley Cole and even Mikael Owen where quick to snatch a place early in the market, buying a villa for about 700 000 pounds, that was about 2.6 million dirhams. Today, the prices of those properties have increased exponentially, having a price tag of about 15 million dirhams, which is an increase of almost 500%. Now I know what you’re thinking, duhh it’s the Palm Island, waterfront properties are bound to kick off, well you’re wrong. Given Dubai’s non-stop ever-changing skyline, with property constructions going on in every corner of the city, any current value of properties would be, to be frank, a dumb valuation, considering the city’s high population growth, increasing foreign direct investments and its attractive tax-free policies – every property will increase in price! Properties will continue to spike in all parts of Dubai because by 2020, Dubai’s’ skyline, resident mix and economic performance will totally outpace today’s economic metrics.

Though here comes the sad part; yes you do get between 1 to 2% commission of whatever property you sell, and considering most of them don’t cost less than a million, you’ll live a life way better than back home. But, and here it comes, a local Emirati has to own 100% of the business. Ill just leave you there and let that marinate for a minute.

A Little Plastic Never Hurt Nobody

Within this glamorized lifestyle in an extravagant society controlled by financial indicators so high it’ll make Denmark look like a 3rd world country, there comes a price – an artificial price. You see, in an atmosphere so ambitious and “unconsciously” competitive, you can’t just dress the part and drive the part – you have to look the part, physically. And for those who simply don’t have the time, effort or capability of “looking the part”, “extreme” measures are taken into consideration, measures so popular now they really aren’t that extreme anymore. And of course, as a business centered individual with an eye for opportunities, this clearly is one. Plastic surgery, or to tone it down a little, “real-life photoshopping”, is an absolute cash-flow dedicated industry – and for good reasons. With thousands of “un-happy” wealthy individuals looking to spice things up a little by hooking themselves up with a face-lift, a boob-job, liposuction or hey, why not all three, there is a clear demand for medical “beauty-enhancements”. In fact, plastic surgeons and other cosmetic doctors in the UAE state that the demand for such medical services reflects global trends and that the pressure of actually looking good has continued to excessively fuel the demand for such cosmetic procedures. Now sure, there is a lot of fuss about whether plastic surgery is good or bad and whether we’re letting beauty standards control our lives, but money talks and in that respect, let the idealist and the pessimist argue and drink that half full half empty glass.

Education, The Key To Success

Investing in Dubai is the future: Lets face it, in the long run, the only thing that’s going to sustain Dubais’ booming economic growth is the investment in social development strategies. And what better way to build a strong foundational social infrastructure than education! Now I know it may sound a little boring, I mean it’s not like that was the first “profession” that came to mind when your teacher used to ask you what you dreamt of becoming when you grew up, right? Just give me a shot, bet I’ll prove your childhood memories wrong.

With an excessively increasing foreign population, outnumbering local Emiratis, strategic measures have to be considered in order to save Dubai’s future and its emerging economy. As expats currently make an astonishing 91% of the current population (and FYI, still rising), there are a lot of families looking for English speaking schools with an American or British curriculum that would simply suit the family aspirations as well as the children’s preferred tutoring philosophy. With this collective “domino effect” with more foreign families residing in Dubai due to its comprehensive business environment, more and more children are being enrolled in English speaking schools. As of now, Dubai has a total of 145 private schools that uses English as their medium of instruction, which are catered to one or more expat communities. And as the population of the expat community is still snowballing, opening up large business opportunities within the educational industry, you really have to make up your mind on where you want to hit.

So, where does the money come into the picture? I’ll put it to you this way, a little more than 85% of Dubai’s school students are enrolled in private institutions that are all billing parents across the social spectrum. But the excitement doesn’t stop there, with about 200,000 students enrolled in private institutions; the “student population” has increased at an average rate of 7%.  for the past five years. That means that as of next year, you’ll have 14 000 new students to support – make it rain!

Now I would go over the whole process and “demands” that are required – but it’s a PDF of 39 pages (really not that long though). A simple Google search of “How to launch an English school in Dubai” will do the trick, and trust me, its worth it.

There are people in this world who run after opportunities and go all in, and there are those who let the train pass and regret it later on. Dubai is the new land of opportunities, the new goldmine of the Middle East. Everything in the city screams opportunities, profit and great business. The Emirate is growing at crazy rates and you can be part of this development. All you need is the will and the brains, and the rest will follow. Whether it is Healthcare, Real Estate or Education, there are endless possibilities to make a fortune in Dubai. So now it’s your decision: do you want to be invited to the party or be left out. The choice is yours.

Picture Credit: Global Conference

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