Had a superb time in Dubai at a two-day leadership forum. My UAE hosts were welcoming to a fault, and participants were as eager as anywhere in the world … and that may be understatement. While the nasty side of the Middle East dominates the headlines (to the point that I wondered what my welcome would be like), the “other side of the story” is worth broadcasting. The 2,500 execs in attendance were hungry for the message from the likes of me, Lester Thurow, Alan Toffler, Mike Porter … and “Rudy-and-Jack” (Giuliani & Welch, the Dynamic Duo of ConferenceLand these days). I pulled no punches, was my typically noisy self, and ended up with a small basketful of invitations to hurry back—including the makings of an offer to workshop on enterprise and economic transformation with the Jordanian cabinet. On the personal side, I absorbed nothing but genuine warmth, as evidenced by several offers of home cooking, Middle Eastern style.
And if there is a more energetic city/city-state than Dubai (check out www.dubai.com), I don’t know where it’s hiding. What an Architectural Feast & Fantasy Land! Dubai, rather short on natural resources, and long a trading hub, is more or less modeling itself on Singapore. Some proof of the vitality: The day I arrived, Addar Properties, a real estate conglomerate, had its IPO. Headline the next day in Gulf News: “Addar IPO Subscription Far Exceeds UAE GDP.” Ye gads! The IPO was over-subscribed by a factor of 458, perhaps a world record. There may well be a bubble in the making here, but it is nonetheless an unequivocal testimony to bursting-at-the-seams energy level in the Gulf States.