No sign of slowdown

Dubai is still confounding the critics, posting 16% growth during 2005. Dubai’s economy just gets better and better. The snipers have been waiting months, if not years, to find a chink in the emirate’s economic armour. Well, it looks like they will have to keep on waiting.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  January 8, 2006

No sign of slowdown|~||~||~|Dubai is still confounding the critics, posting 16% growth during 2005. Dubai’s economy just gets better and better. The snipers have been waiting months, if not years, to find a chink in the emirate’s economic armour. Well, it looks like they will have to keep on waiting. Last week, the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai reported a 16% growth in the emirate’s economy and that it reached about US$37 billion in 2005. At this rate Dubai is expected to surpass China — one of the fastest growing economies in the world with an 8.5% rate. Impressive to say the least. The DED attributed the current growth to its transparent policies that support private enterprise, which has generated confidence in the economy. Experts now predict that the emirate’s economic growth will continue apace and that GDP will hit the US$40.8 billion mark in 2006, if supported by business-friendly governmental policies. When compared to US$16.96 billion in 2000 and US$12.2 billion for 1996, this puts the accumulated annual growth of Dubai’s economy in the last decade at among the highest rates of expansion in the world. These figures are proof of the success of the emirate's diversification policy, which has been in force since the 1980’s and was further strengthened by the DED’s first strategic plan in 1997. And let us not forget that in formulating these policies, the government of Dubai has always received extensive support from the private sector, which has come forward with innovative initiatives and suggestions, to further develop the business environment in the emirate. It is widely perceived that the government initiatives have enabled a continuous inflow of foreign capital — a trend that is expected to be maintained with the prevailing lucrative return on investment in key sectors. That perception is right. Anyone who sees Dubai as one of the world’s leading economies is spot on. The figures don’t just suggest that – they prove it.||**||Soccer mad|~||~||~|There appears to be no stopping the influx of foreign tycoons into the English Premier League. Mohamed Al Fayed has invested US$400 million in Fulham over the years, while last year Said Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader, was linked with Crystal Palace. Let’s not forget Russian billionaire Roman Abromavich splashing a fortune on Chelsea. And there are even rumours that Saudi’s Prince Alwaleed is eyeing up Manchester United, assuming current owners the Glazier family find themselves in a black hole. The question is, are such investments really worthwhile? The Gaddafi family has seen little return from its many investments in Italian soccer clubs. Chelsea is one of the world’s biggest loss makers as a soccer club, while Manchester United is debt ridden. The only advantage to snapping up such clubs is a great ego ride for the owner — though as Al Fayed has found out, a very expensive one. Far better is to do what Emirates Airline has done with Arsenal. Buy the stadium and sponsor the team. No debts, fixed costs and endless world-wide exposure.||**||Google’s revenge|~||~||~|There can be no better example of business success on a spectacular level than that of Google. This week we report on the company’s international plans. Already the critics are circling, suggesting Google may find life much harder in the future. Well, try telling that to its brilliant founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. In only its first full year as a public company, Google has already become the world’s biggest media operation. The company's brand is now arguably one of the most recognisable in the world and the online advertising industry – almost purely on the back of Google — is now worth billions of dollars a year. Only four years ago, it looked like the internet bubble had collapsed. Valuations by analysts were far too generous, and price/earnings ratios were absurd. Quite simply, we were being told that nobody could make money on the internet. Oh really?||**||

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