It seems everyone is keen to know how Dubai is faring. If I travel, friends ask me has Dubai recovered? Visitors to Dubai ask the same question. Job aspirants want to know the state of the employment market. CEO’s are keen to get feedback on how their sector is doing.
The short and the long of it is that no one really knows. In the absence of time-series data it is very difficult to provide an informed answer. But educated guesses can be made, and people have devised their own indices.
I look at traffic on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi road, in the stretch that is in the heart of Dubai, between 830 AM and 930 AM and between 530 PM and 7 PM. There’s no question traffic has picked up substantially; the traffic jams are not like the boom days of 2007/08 but they are getting to be quite bad.
A friend of mine, a banker by trade, has another index; he looks at ease of finding parking in the financial center. His argument is that the parking lot of the financial center makes a telling comment on the state of the economy. Well, it’s not easy to find parking now, and you can run around in circles for as long as 20 minutes before you turn lucky.
An ex boss of mine who visits Dubai frequently looks at the length of the queue at immigration counters in terminal 3, at peak hours between midnight and 2 AM. He came last night and is complaining. It took him an hour to get through immigration. He says that two years ago he could breeze through in 15 minutes.
Rentals are another indicator and in some parts of Dubai rents they have moved up as much as 20% in the last two years. Maybe some good may finally come from my real estate investments.
So has Dubai recovered? It’s fair to say that the worst is over and phoenix like the city is rising again. If the Europeans can keep their act together, Dubai’s best days may be in the near future.