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Customer Review

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff, the best yet on Dubai, 24 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Dubai: The Story of the World's Fastest City (Hardcover)
Reading American journalist Jim Krane's book `Dubai: Story of the World's Fastest City' is a must for anybody who wants to gain a perspective on what is happening in this emirate today, for to understand the past is to better comprehend the present.

He tells the story of Dubai with a clarity and simplicity that is a joy to follow. I particularly liked the evocation of Dubai in the 1950s before the electric light and abolition of slavery (which only came in 1963).

At night the city was so dark that ships and aircraft could not see it. Without air-conditioning residents slept on the roof for cool in the summer. Dubai was as backward as any coastal town in Africa today.

It reminded me of when I went back to the UK as an expatriate for the first time in 1996 and met an old family friend (Bob Williams, the architect who designed our family home) and he recalled being stationed in Dubai during the Second World War.

`What on earth are you doing in Dubai,' asked an incredulous eighty year old. `There is nothing there.'

His recollection was accurate. Dubai in the Second World War was down to 7,000 residents, the majority living in huts made out of palm leaves. People were eating lizards, locusts and leaves, and some actually starved.

Square that with `The Story of the World's Fastest Growing City' that Mr. Kane so admirably describes. It is progress of a kind seldom seen in human history and at a speed beyond belief.

How on earth did Dubai transform itself into a modern, multicultural metropolis of 1.5 million souls? Mr. Krane highlights visionary leadership, political stability and huge investment in infrastructure projects thought to be completely insane at the time. Friendliness, tolerance of foreigners and putting business interest first came a close second.

Of course, you have to inject oil money into that recipe for success. Dubai seems to have had just the right amount of oil money to get things going but not enough to ruin it. Today Dubai serves an oil-rich region but is oil-poor itself.

Personally I find this ultimate rags-to-riches tale compelling and it still works, as I explain in my own book `Opportunity Dubai: Making a Fortune in the Middle East' which is also available on Amazon.
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