While attending the grand opening of a private Islamic collection at the DIFC (“The Farjam Collection”) a lady by the doors asked me what the future held for Dubai. My response was an attempt to widen the subject to reference the world itself and this had a noticable effect of irritating her. She evidently thought you could speak about Dubai in the safe confines of a bubble — and I suppose that isn’t such a bizarre stance to take when the city and the UAE in general feels very much like living in one. However, cities that are service-based and knee-deep in catering to tourism, like Dubai is, are more dependent on the world than any other kind of city. But this is common sense, no?
Regardless of how much funds the UAE government may have, how much it injects into the local economy and the profound projects that incessantly arise, reductions in travellers to its shores is a serious issue. The economy of Dubai sustains itself reactively. It is a Las Vegas phenomenon and a global theme park of sorts. And as sure as gravity, a recession in any major country will have a negative effect on Dubai.
Now the question of dependency relates to the vision of dubai steering seemingly away from the idea of manufacturing real commodities, products, and resources. This, however, is subject to my own ignorance on a variety of factors, such as: barriers to entry, environmental suitability, long term goals, and so on. And it is easy to point out things and criticize. But, then again, I’m raising comments which are common. People want to believe in the vision and work to build it, but the government here draws a circle, a border, around itself, its nationals, and anyone else on its land. 85% being excluded from this circle, some of which have lived and worked here decades, it is hard to be completely absorbed by the dream due to outright alienation.
And that’s a shame since in the world we currently dwell ‘globalization’ is the key word. While countries with old roots may find it difficult to accept the ideology fully, you would think newly formed nations like the UAE would adopt it more readily. E.g. broad citizenship policies according to skill-sets, experience, historical presence in the country and region, et cetera.