Dubai, More Than a Mirage in the Desert
Dubai is often referred to as the quintessential home
of sand, sun and shopping. Only a century ago, it was
a sleepy desert town whose residents lived in coral
and gypsum huts and were primarily Bedouin traders and
science-fiction skyscrapers stand alongside the mosques
and wind towers of Old Dubai. Construction cranes dot
the horizon like an odd flock of birds. And Mercedes
glide past on ultra-modern highways alongside sand dunes
where camels once trotted.
Sparked Dubai's Sudden Growth?
May 2002 will go down in the history of Dubai real estate
as the month that the great freehold property revolution
began. Before that time, only United Arab Emirates (UAE)
nationals could own property, and even then, only on
Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum changed all that when
he issued a decree allowing non-nationals to buy and
sell property in selected developments. Dubai quickly
became one of the world's most appealing foreign investments.
immediately, developers began planning and building.
And why not? Dubai offered a stable economy, zero property
and income tax, and an unmatched standard of living.
been only a few years since the Sheik's decree, and
Dubai has become the number one emerging market today.
An estimated $80 billion of real-estate projects are
now underway in Dubai.
Leaders Think Big
In developing Dubai, the city's leaders have again and
again proved they can think out of the box. Every problem
has become an opportunity for them to show the world
that anything is possible in Dubai.
out of coastline to build hotels? Build vast artificial
islands with 90 square miles of new beachfront.
better connections with the world? Build up an award-winning
international airport in 15 years.
some publicity? Stage the world's richest horse race,
million-dollar lotteries, international tennis and golf
tournaments, and a month-long shopping festival.
a few landmarks for people to recognize? Up goes the
world's tallest and most lavish hotel (the only seven-star
hotel in the world) and a city skyline to boggle the
as World-Class Tourist Destination
Part of Dubai's appeal to investors is its central location.
It lies on the southeastern shore of the Persian Gulf.
Strategically located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa,
the Middle East and Asia, it is the gateway to over
1.5 billion consumers.
its ideal location, Dubai is increasingly becoming the
premier tourist destination of the region. Over the
past decade, the number of visitors to Dubai has grown
from 1.08 million to 5.4 million, representing an annual
growth of 16%.
growth rate is more than triple the world tourism growth
rate over the same period. In fact, the last five years
alone witnessed a 54% growth in the numbers of tourists
200,000 visitors a day, Dubai is being designed to attract
and accommodate 15 million visitors a year from 2010
of Infrastructure Underway
Dubai's crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum
continues to lead his country on the path of aggressive
growth, recognizing the role that government must play.
government works on developing the infrastructure and
providing an environment that encourages the growth
of business, and gives a chance for the private sector
to benefit from the large investment opportunities that
it creates. What's good for business is good for Dubai,"
government has launched dozens of initiatives to attract
business and talent. These include ports and shipping
initiatives, a favorable tax environment, a stunning
airport and customer-focused public agencies.
government projects also include Dubai Internet City
and Dubai Media City, two business development zones
created to attract international firms and cultivate
regional talent. Dubai's initiatives have drawn the
likes of CNN, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Pepsi and many
recent report on Dubai's economy by the National Bank
of Dubai shows that $15 billion worth of investments
was pumped into the real estate and construction sector
in Dubai over the past three years. What's more, the
report estimates that a further $50 billion worth of
investment will be drawn into the sector between 2005
Has International Appeal
Modern Dubai is home to a cosmopolitan population that
has more than 140 nationalities. Almost three-fourths
of its estimated three million population is comprised
of expatriates from all over the world, making it a
true melting pot of cultures. Arabic and English are
the dominant languages.
of Dubai enjoy a clean, modern, crime-free city. It
has some of the best healthcare, education and leisure
facilities in the Middle East. And it has a history
of economic and political stability.
visitors, it offers world-class hotels, restaurants,
beaches, shopping and tourist attractions. Its internationally-renowned
sports facilities include golf, tennis, water sports,
horse riding, dune driving, sand skiing and the world's
first indoor snow skiing.
Impressive Growth Rate
Dubai's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 16.7% in 2004
and showed strong solid growth throughout 2005 with
a deliberate lessening of dependence on oil sectors.
growth occurred in the construction sector, trade, tourism,
services, banking and aviation. The accumulated annual
growth of Dubai's economy in the last decade has averaged
10%, making it the highest growth rate in the world.
Plans for the Future
According to Mohammad Ali Al Abbar, director-general
of the Dubai Department of Economic Development, Dubai's
growth will continue throughout 2006 and 2007, supported
by the high level of confidence in the local economy
by investors from inside and outside the region.
also said the government's commitment to develop and
enhance business with major public and private sector
partnerships would provide new opportunities for growth
Mohammed also sees great things for Dubai's future.
He isn't shy - or modest - in sounding the call for
Dubai investors. "I would like to tell capitalists"
he said, "that Dubai does not need investors; investors
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