When a conversation finds its way to anything that has to do with Dubai, name-dropping the Burj Al Arab, the Burj Khalifa, and the Palm Jumeirah is somehow expected. Dubai, after all, attracts foreign visitors with its world-renowned billion-dollar megaprojects. The city may have already been considered as a major trading port for commodities as far back as the 1970s, but it wasn’t known as a tourism and retail hotspot until recent years.
Dubai’s mega-structure construction heist began merely 15 years ago with the construction of the Burj Al Arab.
With the opening of the world’s most luxurious hotel came the influx of more businessmen, hospitality professionals, and luxury travelers. The tourism industry took off. The retail scene soon followed suit. Property prices skyrocketed.
The boost in the property sector was the launch point of a multi-directional economic strategy for diversifying an oil-reliant economy towards a service-driven one. Its open and free economic system played (and still plays) in the background. Dubai’s attractive positioning – geographically and economically speaking – attracted foreign investors, allowing it to jump from one megaproject to another.
The Global Financial Crisis didn’t leave the city unscathed, though: property prices halved, as the bubbles popped. In 2012, the property sector is back on its feet with better economic safeguards, as its growth begins to pick up steam once again.
In the midst of it all, one cannot help but think: is Dubai’s accelerated growth and expansion sustainable?
Exponential growth for the city’s property sector may not be feasible: one can only build so much on so little land, and at some point, reclamation projects would need to taper off.
However, Dubai might just be heading in the right direction as it redirects funding towards encouraging knowledge-driven industries. Its newly ratified trade-stimulating laws may just pave the way for foreign cooperation in the information technology sector.