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Opportunity Dubai: Making a Fortune in the Middle East Hardcover – 3 Nov 2008
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Opportunity Dubai is the autobiographical account of a real-life business adventure in the modern city of Dubai. The author was a financial journalist in the city before deciding in the year 2000 to join the internet revolution, believing that if a business idea would work during the dot-com crash then it would later turn into a big success. However, this book is far more than the story of a relatively small business and its success (albeit a business that became a resource now used by millions of readers and sold for a multi-million dollar fortune in 2006). It is also an inside track on what is happening in modern Dubai, the focal point of hundreds of billions of dollars of investment, and a city whose GDP has quadrupled in a decade, outperforming any other in the world, including China. The author charts the progress of Dubai in the 2000s and setbacks such as the Second Gulf War and 9/11 which actually proved the source of a remarkable injection of repatriated capital into the increasingly ambitious projects of the Maktoum family under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Many commentators have pointed to the similarities between Dubai Inc. and the development of Singapore where the government has also played a highly proactive role.But the major strength of Dubai remains its long traditional as a free port and trading centre for the lower Gulf States of the Middle East. Yet it is true that investment in this infrastructure has been government led for decades and this continues today with the ordering of 58 giant A380 Airbus aircraft by government owned Emirates Airline, the new Terminal Three for Dubai International Airport and the completely new airport at Jebel Ali, Maktoum International Airport. And the original Jebel Ali Free Zone is now managing ports around the globe as a part of the Dubai World business empire. Perhaps then it should be no surprise that Dubai has been able to capitalise greatly on the Third Oil Boom as the trading hub of the Middle East. But Sheikh Mohammed's restless business vision never stands still. He created the Dubai Internet City in late 1999, just in time to give the author of this book a dedicated free zone with 100 per cent foreign ownership for his small business venture. More significant still is the Dubai International Financial Centre inaugurated in 2003 which has taken the role of regional financial centre away from former incumbents Beirut and Bahrain.A year earlier Sheikh Mohammed introduced real estate ownership rights for foreigners, sparking a property boom that has created further wealth and opportunities for all residents who chose to share his vision. Early participants have enjoyed a five-fold increase in property values. In September 2009 the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai will be completed, standing three times higher than London's One Canada Square at Canary Wharf. Indeed, Dubai has become the city of the mega project with the Dubailand theme park set to almost equal the existing metropolis in size, and office space about to triple in just over two years. Dubai is also the hotel construction capital of the world and its three Palm islands have become global icons. Opportunity Dubai asks where this is all leading to and whether it can be sustained. However, the author's own experience of prospering from the opportunities presented by this incredible city point in a positive direction; although many of his insights will benefit anybody thinking of joining in this adventure, whether doing business in Dubai, buying a home there, or just taking up a job as an expatriate.
About the Author
Oxford University educated financial journalist Peter Cooper found himself made redundant by Emap plc in London in the mid-1990s and decided to rebuild his career in Dubai as launch editor of the pioneering magazine Gulf Business. He returned briefly to London in 1999 to complete his first book, a history of the Bovis construction group. Then in 2000 he went back to Dubai to become an Internet entrepreneur, just as the dot-com market crashed. But he stumbled across the opportunity to become a partner in www ameinfo.com, which later became the Middle Eastâ s leading English language business news website. Over the course of the next seven years he had a ringside seat as editor-in-chief writing about the remarkable transformation of Dubai into a global business and financial hub city. At the same time www ameinfo.com prospered and was sold in 2006 to Emap plc for $27 million, completing the career circle back to where it began a decade earlier, and leaving Peter Cooper a multimillionaire. He remains a lively commentator and columnist as a freelance journalist based in Dubai and travels extensively each summer with his wife Svetlana. His financial blog www arabianmoney.net is attracting increasing attention with its focus on investment in gold and silver as a means of prospering during a time of great consumer price inflation and asset price deflation.
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He pulls no punches about the low he found himself in after being fired from his previous job, nor about his lack of basic requirements regarding what you'd expect when setting up a successful computer-based business -such as - capital, computer expertise and some staff. But this book tells the story, in a most engaging way, of how he turned it all round, with a mixture of determination, finding the right business partners, confidence and sheer hard work.
Writing this from a snow-covered, depression-heading UK, a book about how to make a fortune in the warmth of Dubai would be very timely. Whilst Opportunity Dubai isn't exactly such a self-help book, it is an extremely readable, warts and all, and true account of how one man did just that. Highly recommended.
The book is packed with sketches of the characters, the pitfalls and the excitement of creating, and then more pertinently, selling a successful business in Dubai.
This story is one of which many may dream, but few succeed, in getting out at the top; and it is for this as much as the writing of this entertaining book that Peter should be commended.
A rags to riches tale of perseverance and pragmatism, told with insight and humour to reveal the challenges and attractions of building a business in a unique region. Peter's colourful Dubai characters are a highlight.
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