Happy Days are Here Again

There are continuing positive signs that Dubai is coping well despite the financial malaise which is inflicting most of the world.

As Dubai continues its quest to become the biggest shopping and leisure destination in the world, this week’s news is that the jewel in its crown, Dubai Mall, is planning to extend by a further 1 million square feet. Already the world’s largest mall, this is indicative that the emirate is striving to satisfy the demand from residents and the increasing number of overseas visitors. Last year, this mall had 54 million visitors – up by a very impressive 15% on 2010.

As further evidence of the boom in the retail sector, one of the older malls – Al Ghurair Centre – is currently carrying out a Dhs 2 billion expansion.

The past six years has witnessed a 60% increase in Dubai retail space and this phenomenal growth appears to be continuing unabated.

The strong performance of flydubai is another Dubai success story. Established only in July 2008 – when it ordered 50 Boeing 737-800s for US$ 3.74 billion – the company has propelled itself to become the fastest growing airline in the world. Since its first flight in June 2009, flydubai has expanded rapidly and now services nearly fifty destinations. Not bad progress in less than three years!

Further evidence of the burgeoning trade links with the US came with recent data showing that UAE imports in 2011 were at a record high of US$ 15.9 billion. With exports of only US$ 2.4 billion, the trade deficit between the two countries came to US$ 13.5 billion compared to US$ 10.7 billion in 2010.

With Emirates recently announcing a US$ 18 billion purchase of 50 Boeing 777s, Dubai is playing its part in making the UAE the single largest market for American goods in the MENA region.

The Dubai Financial Market General Index continues to confound its critics. Now trading at 1540, it is a very impressive 13.73% up since the start of the calendar year.

More welcome news on the local front with reports that Abid Al Boom is repaying Dh 1 billion he allegedly embezzled from investors six years ago. If only others would follow this move!

However, on the global front, Greece appears to be teetering on the edge of inevitable disaster and it may be better if the country ditched the euro now. If further money is poured in, then the repercussions for the rest of Europe and the world will be catastrophic.

Our immediate worries are actually nearer home and we await – with some trepidation – the unfolding events in both Iran and Syria.

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