Thursday, February 12, 2009
Dubai the Ghost Town
Is Dubai's economy disintegrating before our eyes? Is the former boomtown only a few more failed investments away from bankruptcy? The NY Times seems to think so, although from my perspective here on the ground, I'm not so convinced. I was in Dubai earlier this week and I saw little evidence that the emirate is in trouble. The "mostly clear" roads described in the Times article were certainly nowhere in evidence as we battled traffic for 45 minutes on our way to dinner at a Sri Lankan restaurant only one neighborhood away from where we'd started. The brand new Dubai Mall filled up with shoppers as soon as the workday ended, and even if this can be attributed in part to the steep discounts (up to 75 percent) currently offered at many retail outlets in honor of the month-long Dubai Shopping Festival, it was still a sign that Dubaians aren't hoarding their dirhams so closely that they can't still indulge in frivolous consumerism. In the end, it may be exactly that enthusiasm to spend, spend, spend that Dubai is famous for that saves them, keeping their economy alive where that of the thrifty Americans failed.