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Economic Growth In Dubai

Dubai is a city state that forms part of the United Arab Emirates. It is also an example of the extreme changes that an area can undergo over a fairly short space of time. This essay seeks to explore the factors that led up to this speedy development and the likely future of this new international player.

Oil Revenue

The Middle East is rich in deposits of fossil fuel. While other developing countries have had to begin mining tar sands and ‘fracking’ to keep up with the pace of demand, Middle Eastern oil reserves are still going strong. With the establishment of OPEC in the 1970’s, the prices were able to be regulated in a way that proved profitable to the suppliers. This led to enormous increases in national revenue in countries like the UAE.


The Emirates are governed by a royal family. While mos modern monarchs have very little power, the UAE is an exception. By keeping the decision making power within a single family, the need to squirrel away funds for a point when the leader is voted out is removed. A single vision can be carried out in alignments with the views of the reigning monarch with little fear of needing to change midstream to adapt to the views of a former opposition.

Enormous Plans

Dubai was once a fairly quiet fishing town with large expanses of desert and extreme temperatures. It is now the home of the world’s tallest building, largest shopping mall, indoor ski slopes and the world’s only six star hotel. Among it’s ongoing plans are the creation of a group of man made islands off the coast that will be shaped like various continents. This came about due to the combination of the availability of trillions of dollars in oil revenue and the single vision presented by a long termed leader.


While Dubai has been massively successful at reinventing itself, much of this has come at the expense of human lives. Migrant workers live in conditions resembling slavery in the shadow of the luxurious buildings they helped erect. Some have died from being overworked or in other mysterious circumstances. Rumors also abound that some construction projects were debt financed and recent declines in oil prices make repayment unlikely.

While there is much to be admired about Dubai’s rise into international fame, the cost of every achievement should be weighed carefully before labeling it a success.