Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dubai And Las Vegas

I have walked the streets of both Dubai and Las Vegas recently only to see gigantic cranes no longer in use looming over partially built Mega Projects that may never be completed. The cranes act as looming monoliths reminding me of a much better time.... a time of great prosperity and limitless ambition.... a time that ended so fast and so hard that many are still in disbelief. And as I look at the current economic crisis situation in both Dubai and Las Vegas I see many, many parallels between the two. Both Dubai and Las Vegas have many things in common:

> They both experienced an incredible real estate boom starting in 2002, which has now crashed,

> They have both built incredible cities where before there was only sand,

> They both think BIG when it comes to real estate development,

> Both Dubai and Las Vegas became "Boom Towns" from '02 until this current economic crash,

> During the boom both Dubai and Las Vegas attracted people from all over the world with a "gambling risk-taking spirit" when it came to real estate investment and development,

> Great fortunes were made and lost in Dubai and Las Vegas in the past seven years,

> They are both home to some of the most incredible Mega Projects in the world:

Dubai has--

* Palm Jumeirah,
* Palm Jebel Ali,
* Palm Deira,
* The World Islands,
* Burj Dubai,
* Ski Dubai,
* Dubai Marina,
* Business Bay,
* DIFC.... and many more.

Las Vegas has--

* Luxor, a gigantic man-made pyramid,
* Venetian, a Mega Resort built to duplicate Venice, Italy,
* Mirage, A Mega Resort with its own exploding volcano,
* MGM City Center, a huge mixed use Mega Project that has Dubai Holding as its partner,
* Mandalay Bay, a golden Mega Resort with its own private man-made beach,
* Stratosphere Tower, the tallest observation tower in the USA at 1149 feet in height,
* New York New York, a Mega Project built to look like a small version of New York City.... and many others.

> Both Dubai and Las Vegas want to be world entertainment centers. To this end Dubai is developing Dubailand, which, if it ever gets fully developed, will be the largest theme park in the world. Dubai also has many other entertainment attractions including Ski Dubai, Wild Wadi Water Park, Desert Safaris, etc. Las Vegas already is a world entertainment hub and has the largest concentration of entertainers on the planet as well as casino gaming, adventure sports, amusement rides and so on.

As you can now see both Dubai and Las Vegas have much in common. I guess the biggest difference between the two is that Dubai has no casino gambling. However with the incredible amount of speculative real estate flipping on projects that had not even broken ground, the Dubai real estate market was at one time one big casino.

Now both Dubai and Las Vegas have a number of big problems in common: > Both have a real estate market that has crashed and continues to get worse, > Both have Mega Projects partially built that may never make it to completion, > Both are losing residents who are leaving to seek prosperity elsewhere, > Both face a great deal of uncertainty about the viability of their future growth, > Both have lost a great deal of investor confidence.

I think in the long run both Dubai and Las Vegas will come back, at least to some degree. It will be interesting to see if they can ever return to their former glory.

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