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The five stages of grief

The five stages of grief

It didn’t immediately occur to us before, but this whole financial downturn has been a bit like a death in the family. The question is, are we now ready for a resurrection?

February 27, 2011 2:12 by

When Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (clever psychiatrist-type) came up with her five stages of grief back in 1969, we doubt she had a global economic implosion almost 40 years later in mind. Well Kipp is not the sort of website to let that stand in our way, particularly when we’re looking for an analogy to kick start this article on the local economy.

It occurred to us, you see, that the UAE’s reaction to the credit crunch was a bit like someone dealing with grief or a tragedy, in that it had followed all the stages of loss as proposed by Kübler-Ross.

Think about it: We started with denial; in the first 12 months of the global downturn (which is generally agreed to have begun with Lehman Brothers), UAE media were under instructions to report the crisis a certain way. In fact Kipp has it on good authority that one of the largest papers in the country was not allowed to use the word ‘recession’ in connection to the region for a full year. Meanwhile Gulf News was embarrassed in December 09 when a leaked memo revealed that staff were told to avoid using the words ‘bailout’ and ‘default’ when writing about Dubai’s debt crisis. Apparently it was a style guide, said editor-at-large Francis Matthew: “We’re trying to restrict people from using financially incorrect terms.” Instead journos were encouraged to use the terms ‘financial consolidation’ and ‘fiscal support’ to describe the default and bailout.

Second comes anger; but really these two went side by side for the UAE which was angry at the negative media coverage it received for its financial troubles (and anyway, apparently stages can occur at any time). Just after the Dubai World default… sorry, financial consolidation, or whatever it was, the Times and Sunday Times were forced off the shelves in the country for unfavourable coverage.

Third, bargaining, and, well, the UAE had little choice on this one. It had to renegotiate debts with creditors, and in many instances is still doing so. But the big breakthrough came in September, when Dubai World reached an agreement with its creditors.

Fourth, depression, and Kipp thinks we’ve all had a share of that. No matter how many people tried to cheer us up (remember all those stories about how hiring would pick up, how there would be a big rebound, how we’d all be getting pay rises?), not one of us could shake the feeling that we were languishing in the mire.

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