Sunday, April 1, 2007

Reviewing 1000 Numbers and Reasons Why Dubai

The recently published book, 1000 Numbers & Reasons Why Dubai, provides a survey of the growth of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.

It is a promotional book compiled by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry to answer the questions: ‘Why Dubai? Why Come? Why Work? Why Invest? Why Visit? Why Stay? Why Live?’

1000 Numbers & Reasons is a list rather than literature. Propaganda not prose. Points to access by people who want to do, not read. If you were wanting to prepare a Powerpoint Presentation to convince your company that it was time to establish a branch in the UAE, this is the book you will need. It provides 1,000 readymade bullet points that will knock over any audience and even cause the skeptics to raise their hands in surrender. When you are asked, ‘What are the difficulties and downsides of penetrating the Middle Eastern market," this book will not be of any help. The book lacks balance and realism. Have all businesses that were planted in the Dubai desert grown exponentially or have any withered? It would be valuable to have a chapter on the pitfalls and pressures of doing business in the Emirates.

1000 Numbers & Reasons should be compulsory reading for economists, investors and entrepreneurs who are wanting to do business in the UAE but, for residents and tourists who are wanting to have all those world breaking records in one compendium, this is the book.

The book not only summarizes the phenomenal growth in Dubai, it also provides a snapshot of works in progress. After picking up snippets of information in news reports, this book gives the best glimpse of what Dubai and the UAE are going to be like in 2010. It contains a thumbnail sketch on the forthcoming Aqua Dunya (the gigantic water theme park), Beautyland and the Dubai Snowdome. It also offers information on lesser known industries such as maritime tourism and floriculture.

The volume, which is the first of many updates, is adorned with ‘testimonials’ and vision statements, like this one from the chief of Emirates Airlines: “We want to become number 1. Nobody cares about number 2.”

1000 Numbers & Reasons is packed with tidbits on cranes and currencies, golf and gold. It is, however, usefully divided into the various sectors of Real Estate, Financial Markets, Banks and Insurance, Islamic Finance, Travel and Tourism, Media and IT, Business and Retail, Trade and Industries and Investment Companies. An index helps locate the facts that are on the tip of your tongue.

The concluding chapters on reports referred to and website addresses are invaluable as the baldness of the points often awaken a desire for more information. For instance, the amazing growth in Islamic banking is recorded but there is little to help the uninitiated know how a bank or business become shariah compliant or what takaful, the Islamic version of insurance, actually means.

Dubai is a city of hyperbole and superlatives and this book offers new ones to mouth. For instance, Vanity Fair is quoted as saying about Dubai, “Las Vegas is a sputtering 20-watt bulb compared with this fire in the desert.”

The drive, dynamism and can-do attitude of this book are best summed up in these words by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to whom this book is dedicated:

“Most of people talk, we do things. They plan, we achieve. They hesitate, we move ahead. We are living proof that when human beings have the courage and commitment to transform a dream into reality, there is nothing that can stop them. Dubai is a living example of that.”

Geoff Pound

1000 Numbers & Reasons Why Dubai (Beirut: BISC, First Edition, 2006) is available from Magrudy’s Bookshops at the cost of AED 75.00 or US$20.00.

Image: 1000 Numbers & Reasons Book Cover.