Dubai Becoming a Ghost Town

imageForeigners are fleeing Dubai in droves, abandoning their previously glitzy lives as the city feels the crunch of the economic downturn. With thousands of work visas being cancelled daily, what once was a bustling city with a booming economic future is now the backdrop for out-of-work financiers drowning their sorrows at the neighborhood coffee shops. As a full 90% of Dubai’s population are foreign, the economic situation is looking grim for the UAE city.

Mortgages are going unpaid, and there’s a reported 3,000 cars abandoned (and not fully paid for) at the airport as people leave the country (and their debts) behind. The Dubai government has enacted a vow of secrecy, making it a crime to damage the country’s reputation or economy, punishable by fines of up to 1 million dirhams (about $272,000), effectively muzzling local media reporting on the crisis. Even though there have been threats of debtors prison for those that skip town with balances owed, so far, no one seems to be getting busted for “living and dashing.” Is this the end of air-conditioned sand dreams? I sure hope not.

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