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The city-state of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, is one of the great puzzles of our time. Why did a sprawling metropolis that looks like like it stepped out of a Star Wars movie spring out of an obscure strip of sand in the Persian Gulf, practically overnight? Given that Dubai itself has little in the way of oil wealth, who paid for it all?
How does a city that is perpetually mired in debt continue not only to expand but to expand in ways that make the rest of the world's great cities look like provincial backwaters?
When oil was trading at 100 dollars a barrel and up you could see the logic. Maybe. But with the current oil crash showing no signs of ending anytime soon you have to wonder, where is the money coming from?
Sure, you can see the need for a hub in that part of the world, a city-state for global corporations doing business with the wealthy oil monarchies of the Gulf and an international airport for flights connecting from Europe to points farther east.
But that doesn't quite explain Dubai.
More certain is the history of this area, and the strange, enigmatic figure that entered the record via one Berossus, who wrote what was then the definitive history of Babylon.
Berossus told of a figure named Oannes, who made his home in the Persian Gulf and came ashore every day to instruct mankind in the arts of civilization. This is one of those episodes in the historical record when something completely insane is recounted entirely soberly, as if it were long accepted as truth. But to our eyes Oannes, who is often identified with the Philistine god Dagon, can only be described as "alien."
At Babylon there was (in these times) a great resort of people of various nations, who inhabited Chaldæa, and lived in a lawless manner like the beasts of the field. In the first year there appeared, from that part of the Erythræan sea which borders upon Babylonia, an animal destitute of reason, by name Oannes, whose whole body (according to the account of Apollodorus) was that of a fish; that under the fish's head he had another head, with feet also below, similar to those of a man, subjoined to the fish's tail.
There are three different Dubais, all swirling around each other. There are the expats, like Karen; there are the Emiratis, headed by Sheikh Mohammed; and then there is the foreign underclass who built the city, and are trapped here. They are hidden in plain view. You see them everywhere, in dirt-caked blue uniforms, being shouted at by their superiors, like a chain gang – but you are trained not to look. It is like a mantra: the Sheikh built the city. The Sheikh built the city. Workers? What workers?
Every evening, the hundreds of thousands of young men who build Dubai are bussed from their sites to a vast concrete wasteland an hour out of town, where they are quarantined away. Until a few years ago they were shuttled back and forth on cattle trucks, but the expats complained this was unsightly, so now they are shunted on small metal buses that function like greenhouses in the desert heat. They sweat like sponges being slowly wrung out.
Sonapur is a rubble-strewn patchwork of miles and miles of identical concrete buildings. Some 300,000 men live piled up here, in a place whose name in Hindi means "City of Gold". In the first camp I stop at – riven with the smell of sewage and sweat – the men huddle around, eager to tell someone, anyone, what is happening to them.
With little oil, Dubai's only hope of maintaining a distinct identity from Abu Dhabi was to diversify at a fast pace, building up various non-oil sectors such as luxury tourism and real estate.
On paper it was succeeding, as by 2008 over 95% of its GDP was made up by such sectors.
But with the onset of the credit crunch much of this success began to come undone as foreign direct investment and appetite for these activities faded.
Dubai had also badly overextended itself with most of its mega projects - including giant manmade islands - being financed by large debts.
Dubai World has fuelled the emirate's rapid economic growth of recent years
With most of these needing to be refinanced in the near future, the emirate's government spent most of 2009 trying to attract international creditors but was largely unsuccessful.
With Abu Dhabi providing some limited financial assistance, both in February 2009 and earlier this week, Dubai managed to keep afloat.
But with Abu Dhabi's clear unwillingness to completely bail out Dubai, much attention has been placed on the relationship between the two emirates, especially since the recent default.
If Abu Dhabi does not provide more help, then the government of Dubai will soon be bankrupt.
Three decades ago Jebel Ali became the Middle East’s first big “free zone” (a place where foreign firms can operate, unusually, without a local partner and with less red tape and lower taxes than in the rest of the emirate). Now it is the world’s largest, and Dubai has 22 such zones in total, most based around particular industries. Dubai’s free zone for finance even has its own judicial system, based on common law. The number of companies in it grew by 14% in 2013 and 18% last year, to reach 1,225. More growth is expected, with $1 billion worth of new development planned.
As the economy has rebounded, so too have property prices, which had plunged during the crisis. They surged in 2013 and 2014. But the government has taken steps to prevent another bubble, for instance by capping loan amounts and imposing new rules on flipping. These measures, along with an increase in the supply of housing and the low price of oil, have cooled the market. Prices are now falling and analysts think they could drop by 20% in some areas.
Another worry has to do with UAE citizenship, which is difficult for foreigners to obtain. Expats make up around 85% of Dubai’s population of 2m—and nearly all of its workers. Most residents, therefore, have little interest in laying down roots. Many ditched their cars at Dubai airport on their way out of town in 2009. Locals, meanwhile, play a small role in the economy.
Still, many more foreigners are expected. Planners expect Dubai’s population to reach around 3m by the time it hosts the World Expo in 2020. The Chinese are increasingly using it as a logistical hub for their African ventures. Dubai also stands to benefit if sanctions are lifted from Iran, with which it already has strong economic ties.
As it grows, the government hopes to avoid new white elephants. But it is bad at saying no to flashy projects. Earlier this year a state-owned firm announced plans to build the world’s largest Ferris wheel, on yet another artificial island.
originally posted by: GBP/JPY
maybe it's the collapse of the US dollar....which is happening tomorrow....I don't know
all of youtube says February 19....Friday
originally posted by: Elementalist
It could be the coming of a superior-race, possibly hinted about on many ancient scriptures. Maybe TPTB really worship an external creature that had dominion over earth once upon a time...