Abu Dhabi: Too fast, too curious
Abu Dhabi’s ambitious development plans are attracting investors worldwide. But Mishaal Al Gergawi asks if the emirate’s residents understand the consequences of drastic growth.
October 22, 2009 4:01 by Mishaal Al Gergawi
So, are Abu Dhabi residents and the government ready for a big change? I believe not. This is partly due to a euphoric optimism on the government’s part that has gone unchallenged thus far; in other words, a form of unintended denial.
It is also due to the excitement felt among Abu Dhabi’s nationals and residents for their city’s plans; after all, the capital’s residents have always been accustomed to traveling to neighboring Dubai for any form of major recreational activity.
One can’t deny that the average Emirati of Abu Dhabi must’ve been mildly annoyed that Abu Dhabi didn’t boast a hotel to match those in Dubai, Manama or Muscat; something the magnificent Emirates Palace has addressed in such finality. So between the government’s confidence in the appeal of its plans to its population, and the population’s excitement about the emirate’s vision, the major hurdle has been sidelined without notice.
Dubai has often been criticized – sometimes rightly – that its development plans were at times too aggressive for its existing populous. The justification for this has always been that Dubai needed to boost FDI (foreign direct investment) to maintain growth since its oil revenues were limited. The nationals and residents of Dubai understood this need.
Fortunately, Abu Dhabi does not need to take the same path and can develop its projects with a slightly slower pace and turn its focus to its residents. This focus should emphasize a strong and sustainable awareness campaign of the government’s plans; it should include workshops and focus group sessions with students, parents, government employees and private businessmen.