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Flight from Debt

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Angus Taverner

Director- Global Affairs

Tag: UAE economy Dubai
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It seems curious that a number of Dubai-based correspondents are continuing to discuss Dubai in a relatively negative manner when many respected analysts and observers report that the prospects for the emirate are improving. 
In support of having predicted a further exodus of European and US expats as the UAE school term ended this week, the international media focused on Simon Ford.  This British businessmans entertainment company, Blue Bananas, had collapsed leaving him owing some 200,000 (AED 1.2 million).  Allegedly fearing arrest and conviction for indebtedness, Ford had sneaked out of Dubai leaving his life and his debts behind. Ford wrote an open letter to The People of Dubai apologising for his actions and promising to repay every penny that he owes.  This letter hooked attention amongst the international cohort in Dubai Media City.
Readers could be forgiven for thinking that Richard Spencer, relatively newly arrived as the Daily Telegraphs resident Dubai correspondent, has become obsessed with stories of British people in Dubai either falling foul of local laws and customs (Marnie Pearce, Sally Antia, Mark Arnold, et al.) or escaping indebtedness through moonlight flits.  He immediately alighted on Fords story of British failure and the harsh treatment that Ford feared would ensue.  Spencers report painted a picture of a Dubai in financial meltdown when, in fact, the broader investment picture was showing a more positive prospect.  He also suggested that with the end of the school year, many Brits would pack their bags to return to the UK to lick their wounds.
The following day, The Wall Street Journal highlighted the same story of the failure of the British entrepreneur and his open letter.  It allowed the Journals resident correspondent, Stefania Bianchi, to discuss the alleged exodus of thousands of expatriates for whom the Dubai dream has ended.  She also suggested that unnamed analysts have concluded that this continuing flight of white collar expats from Dubai indicates that the emirates recovery may stall.
Apparently the so-called media narrative has not turned, even if analysts believe Dubai has.  Editors seem to continue to welcome negative stories; perhaps journalists by culture tend to focus on bad rather than good news.  Whatever the reason, the most significant answer the UAE may have for all this hearsay is to stay its development course,; after all seeing is believing.

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