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Fri 3 Aug 2007 12:00 AM

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Can it get better than this?

Dubai is idolised by outsiders, yet media here is often scathing. Rashid Galadari asks if it is really so bad?

Dubai is a place idolised by outsiders, yet the media here is often scathing on many issues; traffic, real estate bubbles, labour relations, the list is endless. Sometimes, one has to stop and take a good look around; there are many things to be thankful for, and many changes that are worth being optimistic about. A few months ago, I wrote within these pages that my new corporate policy was to schedule all meetings at my offices to save my staff travel time, thereby increasing their productivity. It is often said that ‘locals' are too proud to accept responsibility for their mistakes, and that the blame game allows them to sidestep any problems resulting from their decisions. I am happy, in fact I am very pleased, to say that I was wrong about the traffic situation in Dubai, it is actually getting better. Thank you Salik.

The West is not some utopia of civilisation and law and order that cannot be replicated.

As with any changes in life, a change in the law - with costs incurred - affecting such a large portion of the community was greeted with contempt. Everybody ‘knew' it would not work, until they realised that getting from the marina to DXB airport now takes 30 minutes at peak times, a journey of around 30km.

Imagine trying to do that in London, Paris, or New York. Thank you RTA.

In the last month there has been a string of announcements with some long-awaited legislature in the real estate sector.

Anyone looking for a sure sign of market maturity need look no further. All the due diligence in the world can't get money out of the black hole that some developers create when launching a project that later liquidates. My development company has been advocating secure payment methods related to construction for some time now and it's paying off.

An escrow account gives increased security to every investor, and any company that takes issue with this concept is not to be trusted. Protection for consumers is always welcomed by market leaders and always will be.

After all, the reason they are at the top in the first place is due to their understanding of the consumer mindset. Thank you Dubai Land department. Now we hear that high-speed power boats to be used as water taxis are the next Road and Transport Authority brainwave.

Perhaps six months ago we all would have laughed at the idea, but now possibly, we should consider it with interest and optimism rather than scorn and mockery. Give it a chance.

Perhaps one area we should scrutinise are construction companies who claim they will sack workers ignoring the midday break; surely it is their responsibility to enforce the law, not to penalise or even fire the employees?

These kinds of business practices are what bring Dubai into the spotlight for the wrong reasons; what must be accepted is that you can't change everything all at once, but that things can and are changing for the better.

Sometimes the quality of life in Dubai is so much higher than before for so many expatriates, that it becomes unbearable, that somehow a complaint must be made that it cannot all be ‘real' and forever.

Travelling regularly brings me new perspectives on this viewpoint; the West is not some kind of utopia of civilisation and law and order that cannot be replicated, it is a concept that is being slowly considered and bettered here in the Middle East.

In the month that India and Pakistan celebrate their 60th year of independence, remember that the United Arab Emirates has only been going for just over half that time, and yet has all the hallmarks of a thriving economy, and a prosperous, safe, and tolerant society.

Thank you Dubai. Long may it continue.

Rashid AW Galadari is chairman of Galadari Investment Office (GIO).

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