Selective Memories on Dubai

Almost every newspaper has been running wise editorials about Dubai’s problems saying that the crisis was foreseeable. As The Sunday Times sagely wrote in its editorial yesterday, “Even casual observers could see this was a boom built on sand.”

The problem is, I cannot remember any of these newspapers warning about Dubai’s excesses at the time. What I can remember is acres of newspaper devoted to PR puffs for tourism and property purchase in Dubai. Did the clever people who write the editorials actually tell their colleagues on the Property and Travel sections that they were helping to flog something that “everyone knew” was dodgy?

Inside Traveller has always warned against property purchase in the UAE, not least because of the complicated legal structure of such purchases. Anyone purchasing an apartment from one of the government-owned or linked companies should also have asked themselves what chance they would have had in a local court had they wished to sue the developer.

Meanwhile, there is bound to be more speculation about the future ownership of Emirates. As one of the few apparently successful assets of Dubai, it has been assumed that Abu Dhabi would want to take control of the airline in exchange for rescuing some of the other businesses. Abu Dhabi’s own airline, Etihad, has already taken over the lead from Emirates in terms of customer service and quality whilst Emirates’ reputation has been going downhill gently for some time. Eitihad openly refer to themselves as “the airline of the UAE”. It could be that Etihad do not really want Emirates anyway – though their government might wish to take some secret holding as a security for other loans. You can be sure that, whatever the legal ownership of Emirates, they will not be doing anything to upset their neighbour for a very long time.

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