domingo, 11 de agosto de 2013

Recordando os Efeitos da Crise Financeira Global. A Suprema metáfora de insustentabilidade Económica/Ambiental ... As "ilhas" artificiais do Dubai.

 O mundo árabe dos petro-dólars está nervoso em relação a um futuro energético pós- "ouro negro".
Num Mundo a dirigir-se para um Futuro onde a Sustentabilidade Ambiental / Sobrevivência do Planeta e a gestão dos seus recursos naturais vai tornar-se determinante, paradoxalmente os investimentos "locais" nesta região do Mundo inundada por um excesso de dinheiro fácil, foram baseados numa  artificialidade total no que respeita a Natureza e numa dependência insustentável da energia eléctrica.

 Assim, depois da loucura das Palm Islands, surgiu uma nova loucura: `The World`, ou seja mais um `Projecto Imobiliário`de luxo, onde estava prevista a climatização permanente artificial, 24 horas por dia / 12 meses por ano no EXTERIOR, nas suas ruas e praias !
Isto associado ao “crash” de 2008 trouxe grandes problemas à perspectiva de sustentabilidade Económica deste modelo.
Embora o Dubai parece, pelo momento, ter sido salvo temporáriamente pelo seu vizinho, o petro/Estado Abu Dhabi através de 10 biliões de Dólares … as dívidas ainda lá estão … e o futuro é incerto.
António Sérgio Rosa de Carvalho.

 Dubai's property bonanza just wasn't built to last

Christopher M Davidson, University of Durham

Three weeks ago, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum told his critics to "shut up" and asserted that his emirate was on top of its financial problems, having stated earlier in the year that he had made no mistakes. Last week, his son, the crown prince, told investors and journalists that the emirate's economy was "humming along nicely" and the chairman of one of Dubai's biggest property developers claimed that the emirate would still enjoy a growth rate of 5% this year. Together these men had created an elaborate Potemkin village: by juggling their figures, they were sending out signals that Dubai could weather the storm.

When news broke on Thursday that one of the largest government-backed companies, Dubai World, was attempting to reschedule its debt repayments by at least six months, the facade came crumbling down. Unable to refinance an Islamic bond due to mature in mid-December, Dubai chose to release its devastating news on the eve of Thanksgiving and Eid al-Adha in a last-ditch attempt to win more breathing space. Clearly, Dubai's leaders had hoped to buy just enough time to paper over the gaping holes that will have to be plugged in the emirate's economy over the next few months.

Having failed to entice more than $2bn from international investors, all hopes were pinned on oil-rich Abu Dhabi, which had already provided Dubai with $10bn early this year. However, when further assistance came last week in the form of a $5bn loan, it was evident that strict strings were attached. This time, the funds could only be used to pay off disgruntled foreign contractors, rather than sunk into the yawning chasms created by Dubai's big property companies. Abu Dhabi cannot afford to throw good money after bad.

After a decade of economic diversification and the building up of several non-oil sectors – including luxury tourism, property and giant "free zones" for foreign companies – Dubai had created a seemingly vibrant post-oil economy. Many bought into the dream, all in the hope of "flipping" their investments for a premium and making an easy killing.

Lured by the spoils of rapidly accelerating house prices, investors flocked to Dubai. I remember turning up to an off-plan property launch to be greeted by queues snaking outside on to the street, with everyone desperate to put down deposits on patches of sand that had not yet been built on. Demand was so phenomenal that punters were given lottery-like tickets: if their number came up they were entitled to go to a counter and hand over their cash.

The greed flowed equally in the other direction too. The developers, many of them government-backed, were announcing new projects on an almost daily basis by 2006. In some cases they were selling off-plan properties on pieces of land they had not yet acquired. This unchecked and unregulated fiasco has left thousands with little more than title deeds for stalled building sites or substandard, hastily built constructions.

The ruling family is now in an extremely precarious situation. It has been disingenuous with the public, and its time-honoured legitimacy will face a huge test. For years, the ruler was happy to have a grey line between the government and his personal wealth, but now the tables may be turned.

Christopher M Davidson is the author of Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success and Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond

Glitzy Dubai has a darker side
By Roula Khalaf
 Published: October 20 2008 03:00 | Last updated: October 20 2008 03:00 /

Dubai is used to being admired. The attitude of many of its foreign residents is to steer clear of trouble
and praise the liberalism and the opportunity offered by the emirate.
By taking bold bets and capitalising on the misfortunes of neighbours in a volatile Middle East, Dubai has accomplished no small feat. It has made up for its dwindling oil reserves by developing a
diversified service economy and becoming a rare model of success that other states in the Arab world
have been emulating. It has also worked assiduously to create a Dubai brand. By building extravagant
landmarks, including the world's tallest building, Dubai is the Middle East's most exciting destination.
So it is no surprise a book that analyses Dubai's weaknesses, as well as its virtues, provoked
nervousness in the emirate and was under threat of being banned. Dubai: The Vulnerability of
Success is written by Christopher -Davidson, a fellow at the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Durham University, and a former assistant professor at Sheikh Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates. A rare expert on the UAE, Davidson last month complained that Dubai bookstores had been told not to sell his book. The national authorities responded by insisting that it was cleared for distribution.
Davidson's book should be seen in Dubai as an important contribution. The city-state has been
running fast and wild for years. Taking a pause to consider the impact of its rapid growth is a healthy exercise. It is a pity the author focuses mostly on the political risks in Dubai. The global financial crisis has highlighted the city's economic vulnerability, given the high level of debt and the opaqueness of its property market. To shore up confidence the -federal government of the UAE last week took  forceful action, guaranteeing bank deposits and injecting capital into the system.
The book charts a fascinating history of an obscure part of the Gulf, explaining the ability of the emirate to pursue economic liberalisation without political reform. Ruler and ruled in Dubai have an unwritten bargain, says the author, under which nationals leave government matters to the ruling alMaktoum family but receive their fair share of opportunity and wealth.
But Davidson sends warning shots that signal the concerns of local citizens. Strains in the ruling bargain have emerged, he argues, as nationals find themselves a small minority in an unrecognisable city. Their population, Davidson estimates, accounts for no more than 4 per cent of the total (though the government puts the figure at more than double that).
Protecting national identity and Islamic values against the intrusion of foreign culture has become a hot topic in Dubai over the past year, as more and more foreigners have moved in.
"Dubai cannot be considered a cosmopolitan city," he writes. "Despite the government's efforts to create centres for multicultural understanding . . . most ethnic groups prefer to remain distinct, each with their own social networks, clubs and community centres." In its present state, he adds, the emirate would seem unlikely to become a melting pot comparable with other international cities.
Davidson tackles other sensitive subjects, including the complex relationship between the emirates in the UAE federation, and the rivalry between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. While both emirates like to project harmony in their relations, Davidson outlines a tense history in which the federation was undermined as Dubai fiercely guarded its autonomy. It was not until the mid-1990s that a road linking the two cities was built, he points out.
Perhaps most irritating to the Dubai authorities is Davidson's depiction of the more seedy side of thecity, where he says smuggling, arms trading and prostitution are rife. Though the government has stepped up efforts to curb illegal activity, including money laundering, the openness of Dubai has been a magnet for legitimate business as well as illicit activities
The author cites, but does not subscribe to, the conspiracy theory of a deal between Dubai and alQaeda, allowing the emirate to remain off the target list if the network can benefit from the city's openness and its infrastructure. Even if such a deal exists, says Davidson, Dubai would not be immune to the terrorist threat from a splinter group.
There is much in this book that Dubai prefers to ignore. But as Davidson writes: "For the emirate to survive and to prosper as a truly modern city, as a sophisticated 21st century city, and as a genuine player in the global economy, the time has come to subject it to a more detailed level of scrutiny and independent analysis."

The writer is the FT's Middle East editor

The Financial Times Limited 2008

The World is sinking: Dubai islands 'falling into the sea'
By Richard Spencer, Dubai9:30PM GMT 20 Jan 2011 / The Telegraph

The islands were intended as the ultimate luxury possession, even for Dubai.
But the World, the ambitiously-constructed archipelago of islands shaped like the countries of the globe, is sinking back into the sea, according to evidence cited before a property tribunal.
The islands were intended to be developed with tailor-made hotel complexes and luxury villas, and sold to millionaires. They are off the coast of Dubai and accessible by yacht or motor boat.
Now their sands are eroding and the navigational channels between them are silting up, the British lawyer for a company bringing a case against the state-run developer, Nakheel, has told judges.
"The islands are gradually falling back into the sea," Richard Wilmot-Smith QC, for Penguin Marine, said. The evidence showed "erosion and deterioration of The World islands", he added.
With all but one of the islands still uninhabited – Greenland – and that one a showpiece owned by the ruler of Dubai, most of the development plans have been brought to a crashing halt by the financial crisis.
Nakheel, the developer, was part of Dubai World, the state-owned conglomerate that had to be bailed out of debts put at around $25 billion at the end of 2009. The Dubai World Tribunal was set up to hear cases arising out of the restructuring and separation of the companies involved.
The low-lying islands represent a vague shape out to sea when viewed from Dubai's beaches, but are visible by satellite or from the top of the city's Burg Khalifa, the world's tallest building, which opened to the public last year.
According to the company, 70 per cent of the World's 300 islands have been sold. Nakheel is also behind Dubai's famous Palm-shaped offshore developments. Villas in the only one near completion, Palm Jumeirah, were given to or bought by footballers including David Beckham and Michael Owen.
Though few celebrity buyers were found for The World, it was rumoured – or joked – that Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie had considered Ethiopia.
Many investors who did buy the islands proved unwilling or unable to finance further work when Dubai's property prices halved in the space of a year.
Some were hit by troubles elsewhere – the owner of the company which bought Ireland for £24 million, John O'Dolan, committed suicide, while the man who bought Britain for £43 million, Safi Qurashi, is serving seven years in jail in Dubai after being accused of bouncing cheques.
The dispute being heard by the property tribunal involves Penguin Marine, the company which bought the rights to provide boat travel to the islands.
With little business, it is trying to exit the contract, which involves paying an annual fee of just under £1 million to Nakheel.
Nahkeel say they will cash an advanced payment guarantee worth just over £1 million if that happens.
Penguin claim that work on the islands has "effectively stopped". Mr Wilmot-Smith described the project as "dead".
Graham Lovett, for Nakheel, said the project was not dead but admitted it was "in a coma".
"This is a ten-year project which has slowed down," he said. "This is a project which will be completed."
He said Penguin would make money eventually. "That's the price Penguin makes to stay in the game," he said. "They have the potential to earn millions."
The tribunal found for Nakheel on Thursday, saying it would give full reasoning later.
A spokesman for Nakheel insisted the islands were not sinking. "Our periodical monitoring survey over the past three years didn't observe any substantial erosion that requires sand nourishment," a statement said

Dubai was also helped by the Arab Spring, which sent businessmen scurrying away from other "frontier markets"

Dubai's dire financial forecasts fail to materialise
Lunch-time in Dubai, and it was as if the crash never happened.

Friday is all-you-can-eat buffet day in the Gulf, and on the terrace of the creek-side Park Hyatt, overlooking the Yacht Club, the tables are overflowing with red-faced Britons and Australians, quaffing champagne and slurping down oysters.
In the evening, a procession of tipsy girls in high heels totters out of the beach-side Barasti bar at the other end of town, falling into taxis lined up to take them to the next party. Along the coast, containers are piled up the quays of Jebel Ali port, the largest in the Middle East, disgorging the wherewithal to keep the fun going. Figures next week are expected to show the port's through-put beating its own record in 2012, as its success as a regional hub, on top of insatiable demand in the home of conspicuous consumption, proves a winning combination once again.
"There's huge consumption," says Mohammed al-Muallem, UAE head of Dubai Ports World, when asked where it all goes in a city of less than two million. "Just Google Dubai Duty Free," he adds: that sounds cryptic, but doing so reveals turnover in the airport's shops hit £1bn last year (5.9 billion dirhams), another record, knocking the sums earned by big shops in London into a cocked hat.
All that stuff, the cameras, the Courvoisier and plastic camels, has to be imported through Jebel Ali before it leaves the country again from 25 miles up the road.
This is not what was expected four years ago. At the eye of the financial storm, Dubai was predicted to sink beneath the Gulf's waves, the desert to reconquer its malls and villas. "The dunes will reclaim the soaring folly of Dubai," one columnist wrote, as property prices halved and expatriates left their cars at the airport.
The emirate was bailed out with $10bn by its oil-rich neighbour, Abu Dhabi, and still had to reschedule its debts with the banks. Flaws in its state-led development model were exposed: the biggest debtor was Dubai World, a state company, along with its Nakheel property subsidiary, the builder of "castles in the sand" such as the celebrated Palm Islands.
But something odd happened. Disaster never struck. Although the cranes fell silent over miles of property developments, headline projects continued to open: a new Metro system, in September 2009; Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, the following January; this month, perhaps of greater importance than either, a new $3bn terminal at Dubai airport, built to handle A380 superjumbos. Emirates Airlines has bought 90, and is already operating 31.
To say that the new terminal is a sign that "Dubai is back" is not really right – airport passenger numbers kept growing throughout the slump. But it is a good marker of confidence that the worst of Dubai's troubles are behind it.
"We got comfy with Dubai about a year ago," said Simon Williams, chief economist for HSBC Middle East. "We felt that the cycle had turned again. It had worked through enough of its problems."
Mr Williams was always a Dubai optimist, even at its nadir, but even some bears are being persuaded. Saud Masud, a former analyst with UBS in Dubai, used to fear it would become locked in a deflationary spiral of falling population - 90pc is expatriate - and falling GDP as the bubble reversed.
He still sees major problems in the property sector, but says refinancing the debt is no longer a concern. "They are going to grow GDP at low single digit rates, but that's twice the global average," he said.
That's down from the heady years of the mid-noughties, but as Mr Masud said: "It had better continue growing at that rate. If it were growing at 8pc there would be red flags everywhere."
What has recovered is "Mark One" Dubai, Dubai before the Palms. That means Dubai as a transport hub: 50pc of Dubai Ports trade is destined for the rest of the Gulf, the Middle East, or increasingly Africa; Dubai as a regional base for western companies, whose employees prefer the lifestyle to the alcohol-free strictures of Riyadh; and Dubai as a popular tourism destination not just for bling-loving Britons but the even more bling-loving Russians and Chinese too.
Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airlines, Dubai's most recognisable business, says the economy had in parts diverted from its original business model. But, he adds, so did three quarters of the world, and in hindsight, Dubai's hangover, so devastating at the time, was dwarfed by what happened elsewhere.
Dubai was also helped by the Arab Spring, which sent businessmen scurrying away from other "frontier markets". "We had a big influx, and some of that remains here, putting children into the schools, and that has revitalised the service side of the economy," Mr Clark said.
Even before this month's 2012 figures, Dubai's port was pretty much full: Jebel Ali is extending its second terminal this year, and opening a new one in 2014, bringing it from 14 to 19 million TEU capacity, in the standard measuring unit. In 2011, it handled 13 million; before the crash, 11.8 million. That fell by six per cent in 2009, but more than rebounded the following year.
Critics, of whom there are many, point out that none of this makes Dubai a nicer place than when many visitors found it hard to know whether to be appalled more by its excess or its autocracy. In some ways things are worse –the UAE's hereditary rulers have detained scores of political activists, afraid of Arab Spring spillover.
Even bling is not quite dead. In the last few weeks, some developers have brushed off old, eye-catching plans - replicas of the Taj Majal, new canal-side villa properties (first - build the canal). On closer inspection, few details are revealed, particularly of financing. That seems crazy, with much property still empty from last time round. But with GDP rising and hotels full, the burned speculators of last time round seem a far-off worry.

It is hard on those who were fleeced before - but there are advantages as well as disadvantages in relying on a fickle expatriates: they tend to go home when the going gets tough, rather than stage protests. And those who stay - well, they just carry on lunching

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