Who Can Outshine Dubai?

Upon a recent visit to Dubai, Tareq Al-Maeena confirmed what many people have been saying recently: the thriving city has become very expensive, crowded, with too much ‘bling’, and not much substance. I wonder what he would say when he learns that Hooters are coming soon :-) In his conclusion, Al-Maeena suggests those can’t stand living in Dubai anymore should consider taking the nearest exit, hinting that Saudi Arabia can be heaven for those repelled by Dubai’s luxurious hell. Actually, this kind of argument is not exclusive to us; it is very visible in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar as well.

However, Al-Maeena does not forget to point out, though shyly, that in order for this to happen Saudis should relax their regulations and implements some changes and reforms before they can offer their country as alternative to our Emarati neighbors. Saudi Arabia is the largest market in the region after all, right? I wonder what suggestions Al-Maeena, and the rest of our distinguished intelligentsia, have on how we can make our cities more attractive than Dubai. I mean: with the fierce opposition against everything “different” and/or “liberal” we see in our country on daily basis, is this idea of competing Dubai even realistic?

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12 thoughts on “Who Can Outshine Dubai?

  1. Call me crazy, but I’ve always thought that the “King Abdullah Economic City” was being set up as the Dubai of the red sea. Its only an hour drive away from Jeddah, the closest thing we have to a liberal city, and starting from scratch one hopes they can avoid the infrastructure nightmare that is Jeddah.

  2. Jeddah certainly outshines Dubai in many respects! Jeddah is so the best! I always call Jeddah my home, even though I am not a Saudi, and I have been in Dubai for about 8 years now, and still feel like an alien. The traffic, the rising cost of living, the expensive shopping, the expensive restaurants, the expensive concerts (which are badly organized anyways) just shows Dubai has a lot to work on before it can bill itself as the hottest tourist. Right now, it’s living in it’s own self-delusional bubble that it’s doing a great job! Jeddah is the BEST!

    M

  3. It’s all about freedom. And with the “special status” of Saudi Arabia we will never have a replacement for Dubai (or Bahrain, Oman, etc.) here.

  4. Saudia could never be as laissez-faire as Dubai. Even the other Emirates have a love/hate relationship with Dubai’s dealings. Many Emiratis are happy to commute to Dubai, do what needs to be done or to play a bit, then retreat back to their quiet, more conservative Emirate to raise their families(ex: Sharja, Abu Dhabi). They exemplify their NIMBY mindset (Not In My BackYard)leaving Dubai to the ex-pats. I’m sure we’d never hear of a proposed Hooter’s in Sharjah!

  5. To saudi stepford wife:
    Which is why I think the Economic City (we need a shorter name!) has a good chance of being the next Dubai. It’s close enough to be accessible to the relatively liberal populace of Saudi’s western region, and yet isolated enough to appease the NIMBY crowd.

  6. Well, I know I have complained about this before but until Saudi revises its policy around tourist visas, it won’t have a chance of being a viable alternative to Dubai. My sense is that because of Dubai’s success at attracting tourists and foreign investment, there is a lot of pent up interest about Saudi Arabia among foreigners. Yet the message conveyed from within still feels very unwelcoming and this, combined with other factors, contributes to a general uneasiness about the country.

    Re: Saudi Stepford Wife. Yes, this NIMBY mindset surely exists among some Emiratis. At the same time, however, one can’t underestimate the pluralism of Dubai culture. There can be tensions yes but there also exists respect and appreciation between Emirati “hosts” and the various expat residents of the city. It’s this mixture that makes the place interesting for everyone. I mean, how many global cities are there today with monolithic populations?

  7. Also, Mr. Al-Maeena neglects to point out how the high prices for real estate in Dubai is in large part a result of the large amount of Saudi investment in the city. If you drive down Sheikh Zayed Road at night you see how many of the apartments are dark and unoccupied, further sign that they are investment properties. Given that “freehold” property only was available to non-GCC citizens last July 2006, Saudi investment is historically a huge driver of the real estate “bubble” in Dubai.

  8. The article and comments make many valid points! In regards to real estate, I wonder how many residents of the Kingdom would be surprised to find out just how much property the royal family actually owns in Dubai?
    Could the Kingdom outshine Dubai? Certainly, but in the lifetime for most of us…highly unlikely! The Kingdom has the resources, the infrastructure, the intelligence but the will and determination are not here yet and especially on the part of those who can push through such reforms and change.
    So in the interim for those who desire and prefer a “dubai like” setting will have to make do with jaunts to Bahrain, Beirut and Dubai.
    American_bedu

  9. Dubai is a modern, safe, multicultural city with state-of-the-art medical, education, entertainment, shopping and sports facilities. It is a city of choice for the modern professional and an ideal location for multinationals to establish a regional presence.

    Dubai has become a location of choice for people to live and work, and as a tourism destination.

    Al-Maeena and other cities will take more time to compete with Dubai. It need some good governance policies like Dubai Government.

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