04 December, 2009

Dubai still has the Ball

Dubai. It has the tallest building in the world. It has one of the largest and busiest airports in the world. It has the largest man made harbor in the world. It has one of the largest man made ski resorts in the world. It has the first underwater luxury resort in the world. It has the first urban train network in the region, and when completed, it will be the longest automated metro network in the world. It is a city of record breakers and impressive firsts; and festivals and partying. A city of theme parks, of mega shopping malls, of horse-racing courses, golf courses and yachts. It is the most important sea port and the main trading/financial center between London and Hong Kong. It has and is building some of the most stunning, amazing structures on Earth. And it is home to some of the wealthiest people on Earth.

In every sense of the word, Dubai is amazing. It is not only its extravagance or its wonderful architecture that stuns, it seems that every thing about it does. It has very little oil and yet it is extremely rich. Over 80% of its population are foreign, from almost every country on Earth; about half of whom are from India. This makes it, probably the most cosmopolitan city in the world. It is an Arab country; but to be Arab in the city is to feel foreign and Arabic is not the main language spoken there. Despite this diversity of races, cultures and languages in Dubai - it is one of the most peaceful and safest places to be in.

Stunning and amazing. That is Dubai. And incredibly very successful. So successful and influential that many, especially in the Middle East, have tried to emulate or blatantly 'copy' it. Even Al Mukalla, wants to be 'Little Dubai', in some ways. Nearby, rich Gulf states have replicas of what Dubai has: Qatar, like Dubai, is now setting itself up with a state-of-the-art airlines, vigorously aiming at tourists and has a man-made island - 'The Pearl' - which will allow foreigners to own property there ; Bahrain has its own man-made islands, an Iceberg Tower and offers freehold property to foreigners. Oman, not to be left behind, has its own Dubai style project: Al Madina Al'Zarqa.

Next to it, all its other sister, autonomous emirates - Sharjah, Ajmaan, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah - simply wait for Dubai to act and do, and they emulate a part of that; Abu Dhabi, belatedly, seems to be taking the same steps as Dubai - with man-made islands, theme parks, modern sports facilities and many other structures, that though different and refined in look, are still similar to Dubai's. Dubai's incredible success is said to be the work of only one man. One man with such a vision that some of the man-made islands are in the shape of writings. Arabic writing penned by him: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Dubai's incredible success, in such a short span of time has made it to be the envy of many. Of late, much has been said about Dubai. Some, if not many of the articles appearing in the Western press - have been rather derogatory and demeaning. But that is what always happens: they always attack that who has the ball. For years now, Dubai has had the ball. It has been the center of many of the world's news. Its enemies have now found some thing to gloat about: its present financial' crisis'. A financial 'crisis' no worse than what most other nations are presently going through; in fact, Dubai is much better off and much better placed to fix its problems than most other nations.

They forget or they pretend to forget: the way Dubai has been speeding, at full throttle, it had to slow down. Nothing goes at such break neck speed and doesn't slow down. While most other nations, have recently, almost, economically crushed, Dubai has only stumbled. It will stand up Again. Wiser. And stronger. And move on to greater heights and more glory. It will continue to dare and explore. Daring and exploring - two things that this region was very much famous for, for ages. That daring and exploring is what made ideas from here, be the shining light for the rest of the world for hundreds of years. When most peoples of this Planet were still in darkness, daring and exploring from this region, illuminated this part of humanity.

Whatever Dubai's excesses, this metropolis on the desert edge — not Cairo, Beirut, Tehran or Tel Aviv — has become the Middle East's crossroads of cooperation. In a region where conflicts still rage, Dubai has become a place where Arabs and others have learned to go to build a future together. Few of those who hate Dubai, see that. They did rather see this region continuously in conflict and problems. Envious people; jealous rivals of Dubai, might delight at seeing it fall. For some, for Dubai to hope, to dream and be so ambitious is not acceptable. For some a rebirth; the relighting of this part of the world, is not acceptable. A renaissance here, is not agreeable. Time.