Dispatch from Dubai: City of Superlatives

25 Dec

It’s a cross between Bombay, Las Vegas, and Hong Kong.  Hong Kong for the crazy skyscapers, Las Vegas because of the sheer glitz-and-glamour-in-the-desert gusto they seem to put into copying the rest of the world, and Bombay because everyone is Indian (60% are South Asian, 12% non-Emirati Arabs, and only 22% Emirati). 
But Dubai, like Vegas, has had its own property bubble bust of high-end condos and offices for the world’s very richest people.  The Bahama’s knockoff Atlantis Hotel (a mere $1.5 billion project on the Jumeira Palm) opened last month and sits empty with $4 million condos selling for $3 million.  The taxi driver (Bengali, of course) tells me that 600 office towers sit empty in Dubai.  Buyer’s market y’all. 
Instead of immigrant Latino workers returning home to rural Central America, we’ve got Indians ready to return to South India where at least they can be citizens.  It’s ironic to see a nation filled with foreign laborers building projects for a few rich Arabs and Westerners imploding when the richest 1% has a bad year with collateralized-debt-obligations.  It is kind of a symbolic of the world economy, no?  Even Newsweek says it’s the end of an era.
I’d say the fat lady sang on this town, but I think the camel’s back broke first carrying her to the five-star hotel. 

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