Illustrations Ramachandra Babu/Gulf News
Since the publication of his two books, United Arab Emirates: A Study in Survival, in 2005; and Dubai: the Vulnerability of Success, during the summer of 2008, Dr Christopher Davidson of the reputable Durham University, has taken on the mantle of an authority on the impact of the global economic downturn on Dubai and the UAE.
Dr Davidson is widely quoted in most references to the UAE in the news media and his timely book on Dubai has become an instant success. It is almost a best-seller of sorts and is probably ready for a second print in less than a year.
What makes Dr Davidson appealing to the media is his strongly critical view and bleak assessment of the Dubai model.
Recent sensational headlines such as the Guardian's "How Dubai skyline tumbled to Earth," the Sydney Morning Herald's "UAE Central Bank steps in as Dubai bubble bursts," Los Angeles Times' "Dubai may be going down," Newsweek's "The party is over," the various Financial Times' stories on "thousands of abandoned cars at the Dubai airport, and the sun, sea and sewage in rich Dubai, and the massive exodus from Dubai" and the reputable weekly Economist's bold assertion of "The end of Dubai economic autonomy" use Dr Davidson as the reference for their rather negative, somewhat simplistic and overly pessimistic perspective on Dubai.
Dr Davidson is no stranger to the UAE. He lived and worked in Dubai and knows the city and studied its people and history, and is an expert on the weaknesses and strengths of Dubai Inc.
The media is understandably cynical but this trait does not behove a scholar teaching at a prestigious university. The global financial gloom has visited Dubai as well but the sensational headlines and reporting are way off target.
Needless to say, the city does not need an academic authority to confirm that things are getting tough. The current de-globalisation process is beginning to hurt in most places including Dubai, quite easily the most globalised Arab city.
The whole world is passing through a gloomy phase. The US economy has fallen off and the more formidable engine of economic growth in China has stalled. Europe is inching towards a deep recession.
The financial crisis is global, so why single out Dubai which is still doing relatively better than other global financial and commercial centres?
The answer to this question was the underlying theme ably addressed by Dr Davidson in his interesting book about this trendsetting city.
Dr Davidson, with his vast and first-hand knowledge, knows that Dubai is not a real estate bubble and is not going to sink.
Needless to say there is plenty of healthy competition between these two neighbouring emirates. This is a historical fact. But the two emirates also complement one another more than they care to compete with each other.
Dubai's economic autonomy is a constitutional right enjoyed by all the seven emirates. The city has always been the most accommodating emirate in the UAE but it has, at the same time, never had a completely independent foreign policy.
Yet Dubai remains a city that will continue to attract good as well as bad media attention. This is the destiny of this amazing entrepreneurial Arab city.
Dr Abdulkhaleq Abdullah is a professor of Political Science at Emirates University.