Weakened Dollar Slows Dubai Tower's Race to the Skies
The Washington Post
U.S. policymakers and consumers have committed one of the few unforgivable sins in this desert boom town: They've slowed the building down.
"We don't want the United States to fail, but we don't want to go under with them," said Yasar Narrar, a strategy adviser to the executive office of the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktum. Dubai is one of seven states in the United Arab Emirates.
Last month, the Emirates became one of the first Arab countries in the Persian Gulf to declare the dollar's fall a crisis. Local currencies' peg to the dollar was hindering growth and squandering the opportunities presented by $99-a-barrel oil, said Sultan Nasser al-Suweidi, the governor of the Emirates' central bank.
As recently as last month, some construction workers on the Burj Dubai and other projects made the equivalent of as little as $109 a month. Back home in India, where the dollar has fallen 14 percent against the rupee in the past 18 months, remittances that workers here sent to their families steadily lost value.
"I work here, and I can't save anything. I'll ruin my family," said Ram Chandra, 33, a mason from the north Indian state of Rajasthan.
"Every time I telephone my family, they say, 'Cancel your visa and come home,' " Chandra said. All the workers in the room said they planned to do so.
"It's far more attractive for them . . . to be living in their home country and making the same wages and living far more cheaply," said Tom Barry, general manager for Arabtec, one of the lead construction contractors for the Burj Dubai.