Monday, April 14, 2008

Trip Report: Dubai Day 1 - Go East... or is that West my friend?

(Copyrighted 2008. Photo by R Wang. All rights reserved)

Much has been said about Dubai. Some have called it the Singapore of the Middle East, others liken it to Hong Kong in the 1980's. Whatever the analogy, this bustling and booming middle east powerhouse, is one of seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Much of Dubai's success is credited to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, often affectionately known as the "CEO" of Dubai Inc. He also serves as the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE. Faced with depleting oil reserves, the Sheikh embarked on a mission to transform the emirate into a world port, financial center, trade center, and tourism destination. The success in diversification has led to tremendous growth. In fact, Dubai's economy was $17B in 2000 and $35B in 2005. And unlike other governments in the region, oil only contributes less than 6% of the nation's GDP.

With this boom, Dubai has attracted western investors for capital and convinced both individuals and corporations to start new ventures . In fact Dubai's growth has probably surpassed China's this year. The result - expatriates have come to this tax-free haven to offer services in a host of industries from real estate and construction, hospitality, and high tech. Consequently, expatriates from the east (i.e Indian, Pakistan, and the Philippines) provide the low cost labor that fuels the building and services boom while those from the region and west (i.e. Iran, Lebanon, and Europe) play white collar roles.

  • Construction and real estate booms rival those of Shanghai. Real estate and construction activities abound. No matter what direction you look, you'll see a new high rise or construction project. Almost 24 percent (i.e. 30,000 of 125,000) of the world's construction cranes operate in Dubai. Projects such as the Palm Jumerirah and the World highlight how manmade islands and a flair for design can successfuly come together. The world's tallest skyscraper, Burj Dubai has already surpassed Taipei 101. The actual height has not been disclosed. Meanwhile, continual construction of beach side destinations include the world's only 7 star resort, Burj Aj- Arab.
  • Burgeoning high tech economy resides in special zones. Technology also is doing quite well. Special business districts dot the city and cover areas such as Media and Internet. Launched in 2000, Dubai Internet City (DIC), comprises of 600 companies focused on high-tech. Industry stalwarts Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Siemens, and Sony Ericsson have substantial presence in Dubai. This has led to an exciting market for technology professionals and in fact quite a battle for greenfield accounts, especially in the enterprise software market.
The bottom line
Tremendous growth in the region brings large green field opportunities for enterprise software. Almost every new project, venture, and local office is either updating, replacing, or considering new systems to meet exponential growth. (edited thanks to anonymous...Expect this market to remain recession proof and emerge as a beacon in a world slowly sliding into recession) Expect this market to remain less susceptible to recession this economic cycle and potentially emerge as a beacon in a world slowly sliding into recession.

(The personal contents in this blog do not reflect the opinions, ideas, thoughts, points of view, and any other potential attribution of my current, past, or future employers.)
Copyrighted 2008 by R Wang. All rights reserved


Anonymous said...

couldn't resist commenting on this "dubai" thing being recession proof :) Dubai has seen boom and bust cycles in the past partly driven by economic policies of India/Pakistan and oil

Wise Owl said...

...wrt "recession-proof", how many are ware that property prices keep going up because the soon-to-be Worlds's largest property developer (owned by the Dubai 'CEO'/ Sheikh) just keeps putting the prices up and the 'bricks and mortar' effect(s) is yet to be seen as final payments on the 4 year payment schemes aren't due yet. Sounds a bit like the CDO.Sub-prime thingy, doesn't it. i.e. Borrow as much as you like on an escalating market but let's see who's sitting down when the music stops!

Ps Ray, what do you see as the opportunities for non-IBM, Cisco, MSN, HP'ers over there?

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