Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dubai, Dubai, Dubai

What were they thinking? I really have no idea. I posted a few times about how Dubai was by all appearances, a parade of crazy.

I guess they thought they would follow the example of Las Vegas, building a city in the middle of a wasteland. But it was on the coast, so it had hints of Miami to it as well.

The only problem of course being that Las Vegas and Miami are cities that serve a purpose, that have a source of income. Whereas Dubai was just a way for too rich oil oligarchies to dispose of wealth.

They led the way up with a list of the most preposterous ideas (indoor skiing in the 120 degree desert, underwater hotel rooms, man made islands in custom shapes, world's largest F1 theme park, the world's 55* tallest buildings, why not?).

And now they lead the way down with the world's largest number of ultra-luxury cars abandoned at the airport by debtors hoping to keep their heads and with the world's most rapidly declining real estate values. Their prices have fallen almost as much this year as the worste bubble markets have fallen since their peak. In 7 months they accomplished the same kind of damage that took Las Vegas almost three years to achieve.

Astonishing. Simply astonishing.

Not that it is happening, but that it took so long.

When a city is built primarily from money made by building and selling real estate in that city, how does one determine the underlying value of properties in that city? It is kind of like Detroit, but instead of not designing and building cars any more, they're not designing and building buildings any more. Will the world's 55* tallest buildings stand empty and worthless?

* I made this number up. Nobody knows exactly how many of the world's tallest buildings are in Dubai, because they use the Shariah Law system of measurement based on the distance a donkey can walk in an hour and donkeys can't walk up vertical surfaces. Also, many of these tallest buildings in Dubai are unfinished, so it is questionable as to whether they count as buildings or just as structures.