Ya Gotta Hightail It to Dubai!
The UAE economy is pegged to grow by 20% this year. Dubai has got more amazing-monster construction projects going on than I've ever seen (Shanghai probably has more, but over an extended area). Mega-events (the just-concluded Dubai Shopping Festival drew attendance of 3.3 million) and mega-centers like "Sports City" are popping up like weeds. ("Weeds" concocted by platoons of the planet's best architects! Most of it is truly mind-boggling—a word carefully chosen.) Most everything planned seems to aim to be the "world's best-biggest." Soon the "biggest shopping center" will open"—apparently it makes Mall of America look like a Mom & Pop. The "World's Tallest Building" is on the way. And today's Gulf News even reported that a big new Mosque will feature the "world's largest carpet"! The energy is palpable. The spirits are sky high! The stock market is soaring! Foreign investment is increasing at a staggering rate! And I love it, despite the fact that the government is still well short of being truly liberalized. I'm leaving for home at 2am, but I'll be coming back in a couple of months—I seem to routinely have two or three conferences a year in the UAE. And, my heavens, are the people ever welcoming! (There were 20 Karachi bankers who flew over to my conference to see me yesterday—the first ever Middle East HR Conference, see slides below—and they were almost ready to drag me on the spot to Pakistan to do my speaking rounds. Most all offered to put me up in their homes.) Much is amiss in the Middle East, for sure, but there's also a bucket of good news. My long-term bets are always on economic liberalization! In the words of Deng Xiaoping in the late '70s, "to be rich is glorious"—and one helluva lot less politically & ideologically volatile than the alternative.