An old friend of mine at Columbia University business school recently returned from Dubai where he had traveled with his class for spring break.
He told me that there were tons of chic restaurants and bars, but that the place had “no real culture.” Everyone on the street was from a different country and speaking English, every type of food was available much like one would find in any major city, and the nightlife scene reminded him of South Beach, Florida. The place exists for foreigners – business people and rich vacationers (primarily from Europe).
My friend said that the construction going on there was incredible, and he wondered if the place was being overbuilt. Dubai recently constructed the Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world. It also has a network of tiny man made islands for vacationers called “The World” which combine to form the shape of the continents. Presently the city is constructing three more gigantic man made islands in shape of palm trees. The reason for the shape is that the fingers of land which serve as the branches of the palm dramatically increase the available beach front property to build hotels on.
The unprecedented rate of construction in Dubai is made possible by the country’s abundant supply of dirt cheap labor from India and other countries of that region. The workers generally receive about seven dollars a day, and because they don’t have unions it’s possible to make them work longer hours and do other activities the U.S. would prohibit. Many people have even characterized Dubai’s manual labor workforce as slave labor.
Take a look at “Next” in Today’s Machining World’s April issue for more on Dubai.
Video of massive construction in Dubai from Fall of 2006 to Spring of 2007