Dubai is not the economic locomotive, but it is the brain of the United Emirates. The economic locomotive is Abu Dhabi … that’s where all the oil is being pumped. Abu Dhabi is the fifth largest oil producer in the world, and it pumps all the money. Dubai knows how to invest it.

Youssef Ibrahim on Open Source

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Tchotchkes for sale at the Dubai airport [babasteve / Flickr]

If Congress’ reaction to the ports mess is any indication, we’ve been blind-sided by Dubai. But while Congress tears their hair out over national security and xenophobia, the real story takes place on their shores, not ours.

Dubai is the fastest growing city on the planet. It’s not vast oil reserves that allows Dubai to bust out all over. Compared to brother-emirate Abu Dhabi, the oil reserves are actually running pretty low. The source is tourism and investment money that used to come to us.

Not finding the U.S. or our economy particularly inviting since the war on terror, many Arab investors have turned to Dubai, and the proof is in the skyline. The riviera is a cluster of cranes and scaffolding, punctuated by skyscrapers that cut impossible streaks into the sky. An indoor ski slope. An underwater hotel. The tallest building in the world, shaped like a giant lighting rod. No more room on the beachfront? No problem. They simply manufacture more.

The Guardian’s Adam Nicolson says Dubai is “Not the modern centre of the Arab world but, more than that, the Arab centre of the modern world.”

Is Dubai the next London, the next New York? Is this the face of the empire that will succeed us?

Youssef Ibrahim

Managing Director, Strategic Energy Investment Group

Former Middle East Bureau correspondent, the New York Times

Yasmine El-Rashidi

Reporter, Wall Street Journal

George Katodrytis

Architect and Professor, School of Architecture and Design at the American University of Sharjah

Keith Williamson

Web designer and blogger, Adventures in Dubai

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