Technology, Venture Capital, Private Equity

Perspectives from an Indian VC

The Dubai situation – A personal account

Posted by Arun Uday on January 19, 2010

Was in Dubai for a few days on work and had the chance to witness the view from the top of the highest building on earth – the Burj Khalifa. And, there couldn’t be a more apt metaphor for the situation in Dubai than the Burj itself. While there has been much drama about both the tower itself and the opening ceremony with the last minute renaming and all, which purportedly has more than meets the eye, standing at the top I couldn’t help wondering what the economic rationale for Dubai to host this otherwise magnificent tower could be.

For, as you peek from the 124th floor of this 160 floor 800 odd meter engineering marvel (which is where the observatory is located), you can’t help notice the vast stretches of unoccupied desert land all around. Which begs the question – is there a need at all for such monstrously tall buildings in this place? I mean, if it were New York or Hong Kong, where space is a constraint, one can understand, but Dubai? And while the tower itself is both awe inspiring and elegant, again, it gives the impression that its tall for the sake of being tall and has more resemblance to a television tower than an actual office building. In the words of my colleague who was accompanying me, “its all one big macho game.” And the other striking feature of the city is the number of fountains that are there. Apparently, the water lost in evaporation from all the fountains every day would be enough to fill many large swimming pools. Talk about a water starved desert. History has been consistent in chastening those who have put showmanship over economics and its been no different this time with the consequent debt crisis. Dubai has a genuine scope for becoming the regional gateway for an important and wealthy part of the world on lines of a Hong Kong or a Singapore provided sound economic reason doesn’t go out of the window and oneupmanship take its place.  Hope the city manages to keep its tryst with destiny.
And by the way, for those who plan to make a visit to the Burj, make sure you book the tickets a day in advance. Or, you could be moaning like a couple of Australian tourists who I met, who had to shell out AED 400 per head for an immediate entry as opposed to AED 100 otherwise. The personnel manning the counters apparently told them that the tickets were sold out. But, the thin attendance at the top said a whole different story.  

One Response to “The Dubai situation – A personal account”

  1. Vijay said

    Nicely written account Arun.

    When you visited Dubai were you able to meet up with a top notch consultant called Dhiraj Joshi (DJ)?

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