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.

Most of the sound bytes floating around on Dubai's imminent demise are directly attributed to Dr Davidson, who tends to reinforce the largely discredited doom and gloom paradigm about Dubai.

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.

In his 2008 book, he admits that "Dubai is a remarkable success story" and devotes it exclusively to "my beloved Dubai, from a loyal but critical friend".

Of late, however, he seems to have put aside his affections and given free rein to his critical instinct during his extensive media appearances.

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.

Dubai is not a bubble; its skylines are not tumbling down to earth, its infrastructure is among the best in region and it is hardly a ghost town.

According to the latest Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department figures, some 44,000 residency visas were cancelled but more than 66,000 residency visas were issued during the month of February alone.

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.

When the entire international economic system goes through a period of massive disruption, it is inevitable that things get a little tough for everybody around.

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.

Global aviation hubs, trade and tourist centres, and all the other wealth-generating hubs around the globe are literally at the end of a golden age of unusual prosperity.

Even Singapore, the proclaimed darling of globalisation, is gearing up for a change of fortune. Top Nobel Prize-winning economists are predicting a great depression.

The World Bank seems at a loss and does not know what to make of the economic downturn, revising its estimates by the hour.

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.

Despite the numerous factual and historical errors, the book is a scholarly work and comes across as being generally fair and sympathetic to Dubai.

But Dr Davidson's sudden public change of heart is rather surprising. A presumable lover turning into a sharp critic and orchestrating a character assassination campaign of the former muse in the media raises serious questions about not only motivation and credibility but also consistency and authenticity.

Dr Davidson, with his vast and first-hand knowledge, knows that Dubai is not a real estate bubble and is not going to sink.
He is also in a position to refute all the silly headlines about tensions between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the two pillars of the UAE.

How he opted to reinforce the convoluted image of a furious Abu Dhabi taking over and reining in the maverick Dubai defies reasoning.

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.

Dr Davidson is in a position to vouch for this fact but he opted not to. The recent $10 billion (Dh 36.7 billion) Central Bank bond does not spell an end to Dubai's economic autonomy; it does not mean that the city has to give in to Abu Dhabi or "forgo its independent foreign policy".

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.

But simplistic international media sound bites and vengeful foreign news coverage of Dubai should not be given academic credence.

This most business-friendly city in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, deserves more diligent comments from an aspiring author of two scholarly books on the UAE.

Dr Abdulkhaleq Abdullah is a professor of Political Science at Emirates University.