Most people couldn't find the richest city in the world on a map
"We move fast," Khaldoon says, his crisp, white headscarf whipping in the wind. "Think about it: How many places in the world can you say, 'I'm going to establish an airline,' and boom, two years later you have 21 planes and 37 destinations? How many places in the world can you say, 'I need 15,000 hotel rooms,' and boom, you have 100 new hotels in the works? How many places can you say, 'I want world-class hospitals, universities, and museums,' and boom, the Sorbonne, Cleveland Clinic, Guggenheim, and Louvre are on the way?"Read it all. Thanks to A Year in Exile for the link.
Welcome to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the richest city in the world. The emirate's 420,000 citizens, who sit on one-tenth of the planet's oil and have almost $1 trillion invested abroad, are worth about $17 million apiece. (A million foreign workers don't share in the wealth.) Yet most people couldn't find Abu Dhabi on a map. Khaldoon's job is to change that. Tall, handsome, and politically savvy, he wants to make his hometown mentioned in the same breath as Singapore, Tokyo - and yes, Dubai.
But does the UAE, a federation of seven emirates strung out along the Persian Gulf, need another Dubai just a two-hour drive away? Does it need another long-haul airline, another financial center, another tourism destination, another billion-dollar hotel? "The short answer," says Khaldoon, "is yes. But I don't like to use comparisons with Dubai. We're not trying to be Dubai. What they've done is phenomenal, and we're very proud of it. But here we have a unique opportunity to get it right."