It seems that self-belief is not sufficient for the promotion of sustainability – at least not in Dubai’s case anyway! The emirate was once famous for projecting its intrinsically held conviction that it would have the biggest and best of everything…but then its economy self-imploded and almost every aspect of life in Dubai was impacted.
Such a harsh and dramatic lesson would be very hard learned for anyone – however, you would perhaps be mistaken for thinking that such a lesson would indeed ensure deep-seated and lasting changes would be made to prevent such a shock undermining the emirate ever again…
But we spoke to a handful of expats living in Dubai, and they say that actually, little has been learned from the economic lesson the emirate is still suffering by! So, what does this mean for the long-term economic position of the emirate, and for the quality of life on offer for anyone who wants to live and work in Dubai?
According to the 25 Expatra readers we wrote to who live and work as expats in Dubai, their overriding and collective opinion is that no, Dubai has not learned anything particularly significant from its economic collapse. We specifically asked about the building of a sustainable economy, with long-term viable plans in place for realistic growth – and were told that those in positions of power across Dubai are still living in a bubble.
Our expats’ opinions are certainly shared by some significant investors who are committing greatly to other areas in the Middle East, but who are shelving development plans specifically in Dubai.
Kempinski AG is the latest company to state that it has sincere concerns about Dubai’s plans – or lack thereof – for sustainable long-term growth. They have ‘mothballed’ their plans to develop a 253 room luxurious hotel in the emirate, with the company’s main man Ulrich Eckhardt stating: “I’m concerned about what I consider poor planning from those in a position to approve new hotels.”
According to him, permission to build the hotel was granted without studying: “existing inventory, growth rates and future demand.”
When the company did its own due diligence on the state of the tourism economy in Dubai for example, and then compared this to the number of hotel beds available and coming to completion, it found that the number of tourists to the emirate would need to rise to roughly 12 million annually from its current position of 9.5 million in order to come close to filling the hotels!
This research was backed up by independent analysis from Deloitte LLP; and it serves to show that there is still a lack of planning for sustainable and realistic growth in Dubai in certain key areas of its economy.
For Dubai to dream of becoming the leading tourism destination in the region or even the leading financial centre in the Middle East is not enough – the emirate’s leaders, government and key businesses all need to pull together and create a realistic plan built upon sustainable objectives and genuinely achievable results.
According to our surveyed readers who are living and working in Dubai, this is not happening. However, the good news is that life continues to be good for expats who are in employment – they state that they continue to benefit from the air of positivity that still abounds in the emirate – even if this positively is tempered slightly by lack of inward investment at the current time.