Source: Emarat Al Youm, 9 December 2009
By Rashid Mohammad Al-Fozan
It’s logical to compare the disasters of “Jedda’s floods” and “Dubai’s crisis,” which I’m confident it will overcome in a year or two or ten. Dubai’s Ruler, Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum, has established an emirate that has become a touristic beacon with an airport that would accommodate no less that 120 million passengers by 2020 AD, and the Jebel Ali Port. Everyone has seen what happened with our airports during the Jeddah floods — malfunctionings, delays and cancellations of flights. It was a state of enormous confusion. The crisis in Dubai is occurring now, after the Emirate has already established a huge infrastructure, the Dubai metro being the most recent component, which has made Dubai the most economically active and globally attractive location in the region. It has a reputation that cannot be denied.
I cannot enumerate what has been built in Dubai, and Saudi businessmen are probably more knowledgeable about that than I. There was a price that was being paid, which is the debt that we have heard talked about many times, but this is a negative effect created by “temporarily” not paying back the debt that has created a developed, modern and attractive emirate. Perhaps some from the West and its press outlets, and even from amongst us, are “rejoicing” about what has happened to Dubai, but it is unacceptable to throw arrows and stab daggers in the back of Dubai and its leaders. We recognize that Dubai has established a modern and developed infrastructure and an attractive investment environment not available to others. But it also has made mistakes and errors, like any business, which we are sure it will overcome in the coming years. When we consider the work that has been done in Dubai — a comprehensive transformation, development and modernization of its infrastructure, you don’t find in crises in terms of water, electricity, school seats, public transportation, or airport. You would not find in Dubai any crisis with any sort of services. But when we look at what we have in Jeddah after the floods, we have to wonder who’s in crisis, “Dubai” or “Jeddah”? In “Dubai” there were no deaths which have trespassed 113 so far (there are still missing people whose number is still unknown, some say 400, some say 800). Souls have perished; billions have been spent and will be spent on projects in Jeddah, but nothing on that helps the people on the ground. And when they overcome the mistakes, as is claimed and repeated with every new leader in Jeddah, we find the King Abdullah tunnel becoming a lake fit for alligators to live in. Why aren’t we able to learn from others’ experiences with crises, from when they were able to overcome them in short periods of time, while we continue to create committees and make studies and assign budgets, and nothing happens? I don’t see Dubai’s crisis as something that’s worth mentioning much, and it’s too soon to judge, compared to Jeddah’s crisis and the rest of the Kingdom’s cities when it comes to shortcomings and lack of services that have piled up over the last three decades; but the studies continue and the officials keep working!