Dubai’s the Very Model of a Modern Mideast Economy

Nobody’s petrostate.

Photographer: Tom Dulat/Getty Images

For more than 100 years, the Middle East has been defined by oil exploration, production and its boundaries. Now the region is getting repurposed by its aspiration to grow beyond fossil fuel. The shake-up in Saudi Arabia's royal family was as much about becoming a 21st-century economy as it was about rooting out corruption.

None of the region's petrostates has moved further from its oilfield roots than Dubai, which has been diversifying its economy since the 1970s. The result is a thriving gateway to globalization with a superior economic outlook.

The largest of the seven United Arab Emirates and home to more than 200 nationalities, Dubai is growing faster than its neighbors as the No. 3 regional tourist destination behind Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Situated within eight flying hours of two-thirds of the world's population, Dubai has the region's busiest international airport measured in total passengers and fourth-largest airline based on revenue per passenger kilometer. The city's 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa is the world's tallest building, rising above Jebel Ali, the ninth-largest port. The relentless commitment to infrastructure development turned Dubai into the Mideast hub for finance, information technology, real estate, shipping and even flowers.

Moving Ahead

Year-over-year percentage growth in annual GDP

Source: Bloomberg



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