You have to know the melody and lyrics of the Four Seasons song to like that title. And even then you might not. Anyway…..
You’ve read about high-flyin’ Dubai on teh internets, and you’ve seen the astonishing photos of the automobiles, private residences, desert indoor ice skating rink, scores of construction cranes dotting the landscape, ad nauseum. Ooops! Seems as though times have toughened.
With Dubai’s economy in free fall, newspapers have reported that more than 3,000 cars sit abandoned in the parking lot at the Dubai Airport, left by fleeing, debt-ridden foreigners (who could in fact be imprisoned if they failed to pay their bills). Some are said to have maxed-out credit cards inside and notes of apology taped to the windshield.
A variation on the American transportation solution, this one is called Park’nFlee. I imagine most of those notes contain more FY’s than IOU’s, let alone regrets. Meanwhile, put that airport lot — say, I bet parking’s at a premium these days — in Miami and overnight it becomes a magnet for car thieves, parts scavengers, and guys running for office.
The government says the real number is much lower. But the stories contain at least a grain of truth: jobless people here lose their work visas and then must leave the country within a month. That in turn reduces spending, creates housing vacancies and lowers real estate prices, in a downward spiral that has left parts of Dubai – once hailed as the economic superpower of the Middle East – looking like a ghost town.
Hmm. Guess the British-style debtors prison model isn’t much of a deterrent. Or economic stimulus. Another proud capitalist tradition down the drain. Maybe they should arrange transport to Australia.
No one knows how bad things have become, though it is clear that tens of thousands have left, real estate prices have crashed and scores of Dubai’s major construction projects have been suspended or canceled. But with the government unwilling to provide data, rumors are bound to flourish, damaging confidence and further undermining the economy.
Yes. Confidence has been….sheik-en.
Instead of moving toward greater transparency, the emirates seem to be moving in the other direction. A new draft media law would make it a crime to damage the country’s reputation or economy, punishable by fines of up to 1 million dirhams (about $272,000). Some say it is already having a chilling effect on reporting about the crisis.
An entirely predictable reaction on the part of authoritarian regimes is to clam up, impose secrecy on its activities and plans, and deny anything is wrong or even different. The dearly departed Monkey Boy administration were practitioners, using homeland security as its utilitarian pretense. The media rolled right over here, too.
But America today has no high moral ground from which to tut-tut Dubai leaders who spent like Wall Street zillionaires refurbishing their office suites and trash cans, gaily bribing their estranged spouses while diddling siliconed goldiggers. Nor is there need to fear that the current administration will helicopter over billions of shrink-wrapped dollars on pallets to buy them off — unlike corrupt Iraq officials, the Dubai guys aren’t our enemies.
Just sit back and watch their system crumble to dust while you debate the merits of this country’s stimulus bill.
News source: NY Times