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Media View: Dubai's Economy.

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Angus Taverner

Director- Global Affairs

Tag: economy United Arab Emirates
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Thermometer and blood pressure cuff at the ready, international media repeatedly examine the health of the UAE economy in general and Dubai in particular. Their diagnoses and prognoses in recent weeks have see-sawed between positive and negative.  Of late, fewer commentaries predict the imminent demise of the emirate of Dubai; no fresh allusions to the English romantic Shelleys celebrated poem, Ozymandias , have appeared.  Instead, a current trickle of positive economic news may herald a returning confidence in the region, and especially in the longer-term outlook for Dubai.
Opinion, however, remains divided.  Last week (20-21 June 2009) contrasting views appeared in two major newspapers on opposite sides of the world.  In the UK, The Sunday Times published John Arlidges damning commentary on the emirates economic woes.  Meanwhile the equally influential Los Angeles Times laid out an altogether more positive perspective.
The UK Sunday Times is the most widely read and arguably influential Sunday broadsheet newspaper in the UK.  The author is a long-time Dubai watcher and has in the past written very positive pieces about Dubais economic development. This latest piece, however, is a largely negative overview of the impact of the credit crunch on the emirate, a criticism of Dubais leadership through this downturn, and an assessment of the outlook for an early return of international confidence:  bleak.  The author rounds up old news to paint a picture of an emirate that is still trying to find bottom in the present financial crisis.  Perhaps his most damaging charge flies against Dubais leadership, which the author alleges waited too long to take determined action.
In contrast, the Los Angeles Times architectural correspondent, who visited Dubai this week for the first time, shows himself to be fascinated by Dubai as an example of urban development.  He is struck by the manner in which the city has and continues to develop within the compass of a single, guiding vision but not suffocated by mistakes that master-planned cities such as Brazilia have made.  He also observes that while Dubai may be struggling to recover its balance, one must not write off the city:  its far from dead, he concludes.  Indeed, he says that Dubai will be a worthy model for many a third world country attempting to move out of the current crisis in a productive and rewarding way.  
International media continue to see Dubai as a bellwether of global economic health.  As prominently as Dubai prospered during the good years, so too its contraction in the face of the credit crunch and a widespread loss of confidence amongst investors drew observers to use Dubai as shorthand for the wider global impact of this extraordinary and almost unprecedented economic storm.  This imputed significance does not necessarily help Dubais efforts to ride out the tempest.  Rather, Dubai is left to take comfort from the commentators and analysts continued interest in its economic health.

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