The biggest city in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, is known for real estate, finance and trade. But now, with the slumping economy, many foreigners who worked in Dubai are being laid off and thousands are leaving the once-booming city.
Link TV’s “Mosaic” program explores the fate of Lebanese workers in Dubai. Below, bloggers in Dubai and elsewhere discuss Dubai’s dilemma.
An architect at the “Seth State” blog blames overzealous business practices during Dubai’s boom for the current situation:
In ways I saw this coming, but not to the extent that my job would cease to exist. […] Dubai was growing unchecked, but we were getting so many new projects and working towards regular deadlines the end did not seem eminent. Did I agree with everything we were doing there? No, but it was a paycheck and we were working on some amazing projects.
[…]Dubai as many of you know had become a fantasy land. They were building anything and everything. Recreating locations of the past in the desert. One project was directly modeled after Bath, England. Dubai wanted to be everything to everyone. Bigger, brighter, and more expensive seemed to be the goal. […] When things were good, many people mortgaged their lives. The economy is crashing and these ludicrous buildings and islands are going to stand as relics and reminders of what not to do.
My question is who will live here? Why would you live here? People are fleeing in alarming numbers, leaving their vehicles at the airport.
Blogger “Mohd Fudzail” describes one such scene, discussing the abandoned cars parked near his workplace:
There is a new big parking space near my office to park unsold cars. The car sales have dropped drastically as well as local police have found at least 3,000 automobiles — sedans, SUVs, regulars — abandoned outside Dubai International Airport in the last four months.
Police say most of the vehicles had keys in the ignition, a clear sign they were left behind by owners in a hurry to take flight. A large number of such owners are from Indian, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries
Blogger “Anna” writes from the UAE, arguing that media reports of Dubai’s fall are overblown:
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.