April 7, 2010

Dubai, UAE

Dubai is a city I visit almost every year, sometimes more than once a year, and I’ve been going there for over two decades. During this time, the city has gone from a place to go to buy electronics cheaply to a place where the word cheap seems out of place.

In any case, the rapid infrastructure development and successful capture of the high-end tourism market has been impressive to watch. For a while it appeared the global financial crisis would make Dubai topple like a house of cards, and I thought I sensed some in the Western press relishing it based on the tone of some of the articles. But after 2008-2010 and a small bailout by Abu Dhabi, it seems Dubai is going to be fine. It’s probably stronger for the crisis because the excessive irrational exuberance of the old Dubai has been put in check because of it.

However, something new has emerged since 2012. It seems “black money” from Eastern Europe is increasingly coming to Dubai to be laundered. The size of the Eastern European contingent in the city has visibly grown, and I don’t know if it’s related, but I also saw prostitutes in virtually every hotel bar I visited, many of them Eastern European.