Monday, June 22, 2009

Dubai in the news again

The British press is like a dog with a bone over Dubai.

For several years there were the gushing 'miracle of Dubai' stories, recently replaced by the 'built on sand' stories.

Both types generally have the same basic problems, lack of context, lack of history, doubtful claims, incorrect information, and usually a complete lack of balance.

The latest was in The Times yesterday, headlined with the old cliche "Dubai's dream is built on sand".

Oh dear.

Over the years there seems to be only three headlines they can come up with 'The Miracle of Dubai', 'Built On Sand', 'Dubai's Dark Dream'.

Where did creativity go?

Anyway, this one starts with the same old problems, there's no history, as though Dubai suddenly appeared out of the desert in 2000. There's no context either and it talks about the place as though it's the only one hit by the economic crisis, the only one with a property slump and high debts.

All of this is something that requires the attention of the new Media Office for Brand Dubai by the way. Giving information, placing stories, about Dubai's history as a trading, commercial and retail centre from it's very beginnings.

An example of lack of context in this latest article is 'house prices are down by as much as 50%' without saying that relates to September's peak. As one of the comments points out, 'although property is down 50%, it is 100% more than in 2004'.

It also cherrypicks one prediction, that property prices will fall a further 20%. It chooses to ignore other predictions that prices have reached bottom.

But there's also good stuff too, such as the poor decision on the new property-related visa, about the apparent slowness to react to the crisis and in particular about the lack of transparency and communication. That's something government and business here is struggling to come to terms with, although I think there's evidence that things are improving.

It's really culture and tradition. Those in charge, whether of companies or government, have traditionally just made decisions and got on with it. No communication, no transparency because it wasn't needed, people just accepted that was the way things were done here.

When you think about it there've been huge changes in these areas in a very short period and although there's a long way to go we're generally moving in the right direction.

Unlike almost all the previous pieces on Dubai this latest one does bring in some balance in the second part and it includes a range of opinions.

As always I like to read the comments, and again there's some balance from the 26 currently on the website as I write this, including as usual comments from the extremes.

The article is here.


the real nick said...

It's getting kind of boring. The same semi-correct facts and presumptions over and over again and the same black and white comments, over and over again.

Anonymous said...

Do you know what information is incorrect? I'm inclined to agree with most of what was written. Dubai from where I'm standing is in serious trouble and nothing's being done about it. Oh.. they're employing more people in PR -- that'll fix things!

Seabee said...


Dubai from where I'm standing is in serious trouble and nothing's being done about it

You're obviously standing in the wrong place if you're not aware of what's being done.

Anonymous said...

Enlighten us then Seabee. What great and magical wand is Dubai waving that will make all of our problems melt like an ice cream in Karama at lunchtime.

Anonymous said...

Really? I know of thousands of property investors that have lost their life savings investing in the Dubai dream. It's hard to deny that the problems here are being ignored, okay Dubai doesn't have money but how about removing land registration fees to try and stimulate sales or flexibility with visas to prevent the massive brain drain, interest rates, or, or ...there needs to be leadership and direction and there's none.

Seabee said...

Anon@4.52, introducing magical wands is being childish.

You said nothing's being done about it, meaning presumably the government. They have done many of the things other governments have done - a bit later than they might as the article pointed out. Bank accounts have been guaranteed, $10billion has been raised by a bond with another $10 billion to come, banks have been given money to encourage them to lend, government organisations have been given money to pay debt and they're going through huge restructuring...

Anon@4.52, someone who claims to know 'thousands of people' isn't to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

Not personally, but working in Real Estate the claim is valid. Are you suggesting this sounds unbelievable? Are you aware of how many developments won't get built and are pre-escrow? And even the escrow projects that don't get built won't protect the investors.

The fact you or I could buy a plastic model of an imaginary building and take investors money without even owning the land is a scandal and the Dubai government are responsible.

Seabee said...

Anon@5.22, no I didn't suggest that people haven't lost money by making bad investment decisions, I can't begin to imagine where you saw me suggest that.

The subject was the bigger economic picture but you've gone off into a whole different area altogether, specifically the lack of rules and laws to regulate the real estate market.

Of course people have lost money - as they have on property all over the world. Read the stats from the US and the UK for example. On the other hand, many people investing here over the last seven or eight years made a heap of money.

Why didn't investment/pension funds come in to the market here as they do in a huge way overseas? No laws. Without laws it was too risky.

Any private investor who decided to invest in that situation was taking a big risk and should have been aware of the risk. If they made money they and others say how clever they were, but if they lose it's not their fault, they blame someone else, like the government.

Not to mention that people such as yourself in the real estate business should have, but didn't, warn the naive of the risks. The real estate business was happy to make money out of them when prices were rising to ridiculous and unsustainable levels. Including the things you're now complaining about - selling off-the-plan developments, selling for years before escrow was introduced, selling for years off the plastic models.

Of course there should have been laws in place before anything was sold, but there weren't.

He said...

All these magicians are jealous of Dubai’s wealth and safe roads. Dubai thinks it has eggs better than anywhere else in the world, of course this will happen.

These magicians bought real estate and they have all the right to invest in eggs. What’s next? A report by an office to say the prices of eggs and real estate is dropping, huh?

What Mr. Seabee, enlighten us with your wisdom of how speeding can cause the price drop of real estate and all we have in return is eggs.

Oh wait… did I skip through what you wrote, misinterpret it, and comment about something irrelevant to the post? Oh scrap! I did.

Sir, your blog is a magnet to people who want to vent, excuse me.

Seabee said...

He I assume that was an attempt to appear smart and clever but unfortunately it's gibberish.

your blog is a magnet to people who want to vent
If you want to vent you should create your own blogs and do it there. That's not what the comments section on other people's blogs is for.