Dubai skyline

Heading from the airport to my hotel, we passed the worlds tallest building.  I chatted with the taxi driver and he told me that the recession has hit Dubai pretty bad; the Emir of Dubai has had to liquidate several state assets after failing to make debt payments to the neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The little Gulf country UAE (United Arab Emirates) is really a coalition of 7 city-states; the most well known of the Emiratesis Dubai.  Dubai is oil-poor but has managed in the last decade to secure riches by mastering trade, real estate, finance, tourism, and even aluminum smelting.  The western friendly state has become a bit of a “Las Vegas” of the Gulf and even allows bars and night clubs.

Abu Dhabi on the other hand does have oil wealth and had loaned quite a bit of money to Dubai during the massive expansions since 2001.  When the stock market and real estate bubble burst in 2008, Dubai did not escape.  The newspapers here tell of stories of expat workers leaving their cars at the airport with notes to the finance company (“I’m sorry, lost my job, can’t pay the note”) on the dashboard as they fly back home.

The latest casualties to this financial disaster, the cabbie tells me, are the Dubai rail system (just came operational last year), the worlds tallest building, and Emirates Airline may even get sold off.  Tough times indeed…

Whatever the name of the building was, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi changed the name and I don’t even know (or care) what it’s called now…

In the photo above and below, I”m driving into the “alley” of Sheik Zayed Road, one of the main drags in Dubai.  I guess this would be equivalent to the strip in Vegas.  Hotels and apartment buildings on either side, the ground floors of the buildings full of restaurants and night clubs, and Porsches and Ferraris parked in every other parking spot.  A beer will set you back anywhere from $7 to $15…

I remember visiting in 2001, there were a half-dozen buildings, now there are hundreds…  of course, many are now vacant…


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