There is a complex in the Gulf that is fast spreading known as ‘the Dubai complex. Across various forums, intellectuals from the Gulf are not only speaking in admiration of Dubai, they are even demanding cloning the experience and making it universal in all the Gulf capitals. Some of these capitals have actually been operating under the pressure of the aforementioned complex, which has been seen to manifest as huge commercial complexes and skyscrapers – whether the planning is carefully studied or left to chance.
Dubai is a special phenomenon and its present-day development is linked to a combination of historical and geographical circumstances. It is a phenomenon born through the vision of the late founder, Rashid bin Saeed [al Maktoum] who through his perseverance and scrupulous business sense was able to attract enormous amounts of reserve capital while practicing an economic openness so that Dubai became a phenomenon like those of Hong Kong, Singapore and others that rose out of special circumstances that are uniquely available to them.
It is not required of Gulf capitals to become clones of Dubai, firstly because developmental experiences cannot be replicated, and secondly, because every country has a set of different circumstances. It is not necessary to build high-rises throughout the Gulf capitals in the same way they stand in Dubai: Why don’t we focus on integration and specialization in a manner that can support Dubai’s commercial and architectural experiences?
Why can’t we construct other successful experiences in various Gulf countries? Why can’t Doha become the educational and medical capital of the region? There are diligent efforts being made to attract reputable international universities to Doha, in addition to the establishment of various branches of renowned and specialized international hospitals. What could prevent Doha from becoming an educational and medical center, both sectors are large-scale and potentially successful investments that the region needs in addition to its natural gas industry?
Why don’t we support Bahrain so that it may be transformed into a commercial and investment center, seeing as the circumstances are appropriate for international companies and banks to transfer their business into the small island? Why can’t Riyadh be the Gulf’s industrial capital; Saudi has a large workforce and essential resources – perhaps Saudi Basic Industries Corporation’s (SABIC) experience and the new industrial cities indicate potential that can be further developed and multiplied?
And what would prevent Muscat from becoming a tourism capital, resort and a hub for low-pollution industries? The Sultanate [of Oman] has vast and unexplored touristic capabilities that have yet to be appropriated and utilized.
The private sector in Kuwait has managed to transcend the small market problem, and communication companies, in addition to service- and insurance- companies and banks have all adapted to the regional conditions. This is an experience from which other Gulf countries can benefit.
Gulf countries have enormous capabilities that must be tapped into – the only concern is if this trend wherein stock market investment and real estate speculations continues to flourish at the expense of investments in education, services and manufacturing, among other things!