I visit Dubai almost monthly and I’ve never seen it this quiet. The airport, the roads, the shops and restaurants – all seem to be looking for disappearing trade. Taking into account the financial crisis around the world, and how much Dubai relies on foreign trade, it’s not a surprise. The place has been exploding into something much larger than its own foundations, and this was simply unsustainable.
There are challenges and many projects are being shelved, but this is a breathing time for Dubai that is well overdue. There is also a shy positive feeling when you talk to business leaders. I saw a manufacturing company, a petroleum terminal manager and a banker. All agreed that this is not a collapse but a correction. A correction that Dubai has needed for some time. A moment for reflection to avoid going too far (more than now).
Signs of progress are as visible as the cancelled projects. I saw a train moving on the tracks at Sh Zayed Road. On Monday, there was a visit by the leader of the UAE to all the major Dubai projects. It was a clear signal to the region, and the world, that Abu Dhabi stands behind what Dubai is doing. Sure, they will probably buy a nice portion of it, but I hope it’s a clear indicator that this magnificent ship on the Gulf will continue to sail.