Sunday, November 02, 2008

The UAE is still by far the safest place to anchor

We cannot help but feel a bit of jittery in the whole uncertain situation. This turmoil is yet to hit the rock bottom and we are not sure how deep it would be or how long it takes to sail again in the open stormy seas.

I have received many calls from those who are concerned about any drastic changes that may happen during next few weeks or months. There are definitely more bad news to come and nobody is immune from the crisis. Blessing in disguise and time to reflect the whole situation especially after years of fast-paced developments and speedy growth.

A slower rate of growth is most welcome. This is not only good news but is infinitely better than the fast moving pace of growth the last two decades. Going slow is best for the country, the city, and it is good for every body, locals as well as for the expats. Those who really care for the UAE should be advocating a slower not faster rate of growth. There is no need to prove anything any more.




UAE- safest place to anchor

In many ways the financial global roller coaster is a blessing for the UAE. It is the first true test of how solid the whole Dubai and UAE project is. The project had an easy ride so far with oil prices high and world market upbeat.
Time has come now to see how this unique economic model operates during economic crisis, even if it is not of its own making. The impact of the global financial tsunami is unavoidable, since the UAE is by far the most globalised economy in the Arab world and is the most integrated market in the global network. The first thing to keep in mind is that the World is Flat, as Thomas Friedman keeps saying, and it is not wise to pretend that the UAE is in any way immune to the ups and downs of the global economy. Every body is in this together and living in denial is not a smart way to live.
However, if the UAE economy and especially Dubai manages to withstand the test, no one will ever doubt the sustainability of the model. It will prove that it is not as vulnerable as some scholars have lately declared it to be. Christopher Davidson's latest book, Dubai: the Vulnerability of Success is an excellent scholarly work but it tends to exaggerate the weakness of the Dubai phenomenon.
The economic underpinnings are already proving to be as solid as they can be. Frankly there is no bubble ready to burst any time soon. Those who fanatically subscribed to the simplistic bubble theory are in for a surprise of their life.
These are tough times but all is not doom and gloom, at least not here in the UAE. Hardly any body is packing or leaving. No one is desperately selling or going broke. More people are coming in than going out. For every one person leaving there are easily ten ready to move in and take his place. Crisis or not, the UAE remains a land full of opportunities for its own people and far beyond. One thing is certain, this country does not welcome timid people.
But let us not be naive and overly optimistic. Government and private sector as well as individuals at large ought to be cautious and judicious. It is extremely important to take the current global economic contraction and its possible impact on the UAE seriously and not dismissively. The government has already made its preemptive move to prop up the credit and boost bank liquidity. However, more firm decisions are needed including scaling down on ambitious plans, redundant projects and bombastic initiatives. This is just not the right time to behave like we are in an unsinkable Titanic. The underpinnings are strong, the vision is right, and the problems are manageable, but the UAE is no economic Titanic.
It is also legitimate to think that the era of double digit growth which has been around for more than a decade and a half is almost over. The get-rich-quick days are also numbered. Those hefty investment returns and nice double digit rates are not going to be around for some time to come. There are new realities and people have to adjust. But it is not the end for growth as such. What the UAE will go through for a while is a more moderate, more reasonable and rational single digit growth.
A slower rate of growth is most welcome. This is not only good news but is infinitely better than the fast moving pace of growth the last two decades. Going slow is best for the country, the city, and it is good for every body, locals as well as for the expats. Those who really care for the UAE should be advocating a slower not faster rate of growth. There is no need to prove anything any more.
The UAE has already made it to the top. The country does not need to break more world records of building the biggest, the tallest, the longest and the most prestigious. It is time to stay down on the earth for a while. In Praise of Slow, by Carl Honore, is probably a book everyone should read these days.
That simply means the party might be over but the lights are still on. It is not party time but serious business time in the UAE. And if some think it is getting bad here, let them try their luck in New York, London, Tokyo, may be Seoul or even the more formidable Shanghai. Considering the global financial tsunami, the UAE is still by far the safest place to anchor. People are better off here than in any other global capital. The field remains much greener and healthier in the Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the rest of the UAE.

Dr Abdulkhaleq Abdulla is a professor of Political Science, Emirates University.

Perjalanan Dari Sebuah Kancil

yang bergerak dan meluncur
bersimpang-siur
ayam, itik, kijang, rimau, gajah
memburu dan diburu waktu
pagi ini, saujana perjalanan
dalam sebuah kancil
destinasi semakin jauh
walau terasa sama laju
menjejak setiap lorong
di rimba konkrit yang kelabu
dibalik topeng kemanusiaan
berasap oleh kapitalis jalang
kerdil berlari di tengah medan
ada gajah tidak kenal isyarat
ada rimau ganas menciluk
ada kijang tak henti menyibuk
ada ayam melintas terbang
ada itik terhegeh-hegeh merewang
tidak sedar diburu dan memburu
terlontar atau terpenyek
sama sahaja status
apabila tersadai
sebagai mangsa keadaan
di kemelut kitar semula peradaban
korban yang tidak ditangisi
sekadar mati katak

biarkan sahaja persaingan
dalam sebuah perlumbaan
di lebuhraya kehidupan
mengganas mencekik emosi
selagi kancil bukan kehinaan
imej dari kebendaan
walau sekadar penonton
dan tertinggal di belakang
sebagai penumpang yang asyik
memintas perjalanan turun naik
warna-warna dunia tanpa sempadan
berebut menuju ke satu noktah!


Arab money sits on the sidelines


Arab investors have long been big players in Europe's commercial property markets. Yet that may be about to change as the real estate market begins to slow.


London's west end, with its plush offices and 250 year-old Georgian town houses, has for years been high on the shopping list of wealthy Arab property investors, keen to get a firm foothold in what is one of the world's most sought-after real estate hot spots.
High demand among wealthy hedge fund groups and very limited supply has pushed prices and rents ever higher over the last decade. More insulated from the property downturn than other parts of the UK, Central London continues to provide solid returns for investors attracted to the relative steady returns offered by long leases.


Continue HERE

UAE marks Zayed's death anniversary


Great men do not die as their achievements stand testimony to their grand vision long after they are gone.

The fourth death anniversary of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan on Sunday provides an opportunity for the nation he envisioned to honour his memory.

Shaikh Zayed's stature as a leader was such that his biography could pass for the history of the nation. He is not just remembered as the country's founder but his legacy of prosperity and stability have left a lasting impact on the proud and vibrant nation of today. His achievements not only made for the prosperity of his subjects but also endeared him to them.

Just, sober and humane, his name still evokes superlatives in terms of events and attitudes.
This solemn occasion gives every citizen a chance to rededicate themselves to work to promote the ideals espoused by the legendary leader that have helped attain and sustain amazing levels of prosperity.

Over one billion Muslims worldwide remember his great deeds and allegiance to his country and Ummah. He was the epitome of charity and generosity and so his memory lives on.
When Shaikh Zayed sought to build a country, he set out to improve the human condition. He was able to strike a fine balance between noble ideals and real goals.

During his era (1971-2004), the UAE became one of the countries with the highest standard of living - the gross domestic product (GDP) stood at Dh314.81 billion in 2004 against Dh6.5 billion in 1971. He managed to establish a diversified economic base and the non-oil sector witnessed a surge from around Dh2.3 billion in 1972 to Dhs199.2 billion in 2003.

Noticing a lack of medical services in the country, Shaikh Zayed even, before he became the UAE President, invited the doctor couple (Dr Marian and Dr Kennedy) to set up a hospital in Al Ain in 1960. Towards the end of the decade, he ordered the setting up of the central hospital in Abu Dhabi. Not long after there were 37 hospitals and 110 health centres across the country.

Shaikh Zayed launched ambitious housing programmes for his subjects. Upon his instructions, the Ministry of Public Works launched a programme in 1973 that saw over 17,000 residential units coming up. About Dh72 billion was spent on the housing sector. It included construction of 42,000 houses and over 6,000 financial grants were offered to the UAE nationals.

Great men do not die as their achievements stand testimony to their grand vision long after they are gone. Shaikh Zayed left behind great human values and a national heritage. He began to serve his people even before he became President of the UAE. He was ahead of his time.