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The Recession Is Now #675 – the Dubai Version

NY Times reports Laid-off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down. Some newspapers report that 3000 cars sit abandoned in the car park of Dubai International, left when their owners fled the country. Seems that foreigners – well anyone – with debts can be put in debtor’s prison. So if you bought property, ran up your credit card, then lose your job and with it your work visa, you go to prison unless you flee the country. Parts of Dubai apparently like a ghost town so many people have left. 

And just a year ago all the smart people in the Manhattan bars, in the City of London, were talking about Dubai, Dubai, Dubai. We had to give bonuses, otherwise the top talent, the financial wizards, would follow the money and go to places like – Dubai. Just one year ago, for the elite of the world, Dubai was a stopover between London, Manhattan, and I don’t know where else (since I’m pretty far from being one of the elite). Friends in London said if you want to make money, make a name in journalism, in anything at all, go to Dubai – great salaries, no tax, holidays etc. Not much fun, but plant yourself for one year, two, and you’ll go places. 

Now, it seems, the good times are over. 

I wonder how far it will go, since Dubai, unlike it’s cousin in the UAI, has no oil and owed it’s prosperity to real estate and finance. Under these circumstances, when things go bad, they can go pretty bad. I know – reading this story I couldn’t help thinking of where I grew up, a boomtown in northern Canada. The boom ended twice, once in the late 50’s, and again in the early 80’s. Both times, most folks ditched whatever they had and got the hell out, leaving behind miles of empty houses, and dozens of automobiles parked in empty driveways (there was no road out). The town still sits high up in PreCambrian Shield, home to 87 people and hundreds of empty buildings, sinking slowly into the earth. 

Hark ye, hark ye.