Tea Atop the World’s Tallest Building
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world at 2,722 feet, which is nearly twice as tall as the Empire State Building at 1,454 feet. After Adam convinced Annie that going to the top was worth the ticket price, we rode the speedy elevator all the way up and sipped some yummy tea overlooking the Persian Gulf. It was incredible to see the juxtaposition of Dubai’s modernity next to the endless desert. Humans built this city out of nothing, but in some ways, it seems unnatural for humans to be here at all.
After this trip, we’ve been to the two tallest buildings in the world – the Burj Khalifa and the Shanghai Tower. What’s crazy is that Dubai is in the process of building an even taller, tallest building in the world, The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour. It should set the world record by 2020, giving Dubai the 1st and 2nd tallest buildings across the globe.
The Female Train Car
On the public transit system in Dubai, there is a train car for females only. Annie decided to test it out and she loved it. The car felt comfortable and spacious. In fact, she was so busy marveling at how much space she had and how little the men had in their portion of the car that she almost missed the train stop.
One giant mall. That’s what it feels like. How many shopping malls are going up in UAE? Too many. Isn't everything moving online? Is being tax free really that beneficial to open up brick and mortar stores? We shall see…
A Real Estate Economy
The primary drivers of the economy are real estate and luxury tourism. We were surprised to learn that only 7% of its revenue comes from oil. It’s incredible to see the pace at which they’ve developed here. During the ’08 credit crisis, when construction on the Burj Khalifa nearly went bankrupt, Abu Dhabi stepped in with its oil reserves to fund the remainder of the project. The tower was initially named “Bur Dubai,” but after the financial bailout from their wealthy neighbor, the name of the world’s tallest building was renamed to the head of state based in Abu Dhabi. Dubai is building another building, to be completed in the next 5 years, which will be the new tallest building in the world.
The ruling monarchy is extremely popular; they are highly intelligent and hyper-focused on the development and economic growth of the country. Their primary aim is to support the well-being and safety of their citizens. We asked locals how they viewed the monarchy. They broadly said that they are very grateful that they don’t have to deal with politicians and that it’s a very high-functioning family in charge. There is a very large expat community in Dubai (from the US, the UK, India, and Pakistan), and very few true citizens. We heard from one source that any foreign business operating in Dubai requires a sponsorship, or part ownership, with a citizen of the UAE. Because of these mandated partnerships, actual Dubai citizens are “filthy rich,” as one woman stated, since they must own at least 51% of the share capital and there is generally an agreement around what percentage of future profit that they will receive from the company. There are other major benefits associated with being a citizen, including free health care, free education, and no taxes. Citizens are encouraged to marry other citizens; if they don’t, they forego the benefits of being a citizen. Sounds like a good deal to me!