Wanderlust…

The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

Abu Dhabi’s Spending on Soccer and Skyscrapers Masks Slower Times at Home

Posted by vmsalama on September 11, 2011

By Vivian Salama – Sep 21, 2011

Bloomberg — Ramy Kaddourah got the keys to his apartment in Abu Dhabi’s Raha Beach development two years late as the boom in the United Arab Emirates capital started to wane.

“Everyone got really excited about the plans to build up Abu Dhabi, then out of nowhere everything came to a stop,” said Kaddourah, 31, who runs a local private hospital and invests in property to rent. “If this can happen here, I don’t want to imagine what’s happening in the rest of the world.”

Abu Dhabi internationally is the oil-rich emirate spending billions of petrodollars on English soccer team Manchester City, the iconic Chrysler Building in New York and London’s Gatwick Airport. Yet that image is masking pressure at home as the government supports its six neighboring emirates while financing a $500 billion development plan.

In a year that saw uprisings in almost a dozen Arab countries, citizens in the U.A.E. will head to the polls for only the second time in the country’s 40-year history on Sept. 24 to choose members of a council that will advise the sheikhs in control. In the background are deteriorating infrastructure and rising unemployment in the northern emirates and an end to the breakneck investment in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“We’re starting to see chinks in the armor,” Christopher Davidson, author of “Power and Politics in the Persian Gulf Monarchies.” “The bottom line is they can’t keep distributing the wealth to an ever-growing, ever-developing population.” (click here to read more…)

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