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Whereas the natural coastline of Dubai is constantly re-supplied with sand from the ocean currents, the artificially formed coastlines are continuously having their sands stripped away by the currents and deposited further downstream. This means that in order to preserve the Palm Island's beautiful shape, perpetual maintenance must be put into action. Ultimately, this means that the Dubai economy will fundamentally depend upon the flow of tourism because the initial gains from real-estate development will grind to a halt when real-estate ceases to be created. Perhaps this explains the ever-increasing scale upon which the artificial islands of Dubai are being created: real-estate sales have already made-up for much of the cost of creating the vulnerable islands. Nevertheless, once construction stops and oil reserves dry up, it will be upon the shoulders of international tourism that Dubai sustains the economic progress that has typified its past two decades of its development.
Still, it is difficult to dispel the notion that Dubai has become the center for such development because of its almost unimaginable advancement within the past quarter-century. Prior to the discovery of oil in the emirate, life had remained largely unchanged for the past millennium: "Until a decade or two ago, the dunes were inhabited by nomadic bedouin roaming with their flocks and herds. Today the nomads have all settled, in villages in the few fertile oases or valleys, or else in the city." Many of the more recent changes in Dubai have come about through the change of power: "When Sheikh Rashid, the architect of Dubai's success and unrivalled financial freedom, died in 1990, his son Sheikh Maktoum took the reins of power. The core of Maktoum's policies is economic freedom and the no-holds-barred promotion of Dubai, which makes the city a very fun place." So, although the lands of Dubai have been inhabited for at least three thousand years it has been recent changes in energy needs, coupled with individual leadership, which has transformed it into an economic oasis.
It is still worth notice that in many other nations, in which natural resources have begun to run low, privatization of these resources has become the capitalistic answer. Broadly, pressing problems and forebodings have brought forth one course of action which has been receiving substantial attention and backing in recent years: privatization and commodification. This is a product of the so called "Washington consensus" model of economics. Fundamentally, this is the notion that liberal market economics can be utilized to generate stable equilibriums with any number of commodities, including those that are essential to life. Water, for example, was first formally defined as a commodity in the "World Water Forum" in The Hague in March of 2000. And during the same time, at 2000 and 2002 world summits, numerous nations committed themselves to the reduction in the number of people who currently lack access to safe water by one-half by 2015 -- currently about 1.1 billion people drink contaminated water. Obviously, this is a bold and, perhaps, impossible undertaking for nations already struggling to meet their existing natural resource demands. So, it should not be surprising that the past fifteen years have seen exponential increases in the levels of privatization of natural resources throughout the planet: "In 1990, private water companies operated in 12 countries; today they are in nearly 100. And industry analysts expect the private drinking water market to grow from its current level of about $500 billion to about $3 trillion in just the next five years."
Many governments are simply unable to meet the needs of individuals and farmlands. "In Cairo, the poor pay vendors 40 times the real cost of delivery; in Karachi the figure is 83 times; and in parts of Haiti, 100 times, or a third of residents' income. Poor farmers in South Asia often surrender a large part of their crops to those who own pumps." In light of these facts, there are numerous benefits associated with privatizing natural resources. A problem that is rather easily solved by pricing is associated with wasteful usages. By ensuring a community a certain amount -- enough for subsistence -- but drastically increasing rates once this level is surpassed, water distributors in a handful of regions have been able to both limit excessive use and take into account low-income individuals who may lack the monetary capacity to pay. This problem generally rears itself in regions where water prices are unduly low -- like in the American southwest, for example. Demanding that water be absolutely free everywhere tends to breed excessive usage in locations where the actual cost of transporting water is significant. Professor Tony Allan, a specialist in Middle-East and North African resources at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London asserts, "Much of the trouble in arid places like Arizona and California lies with stupid water budgets that support a lot of irrigation. If you decide in hot country to allocate water to agriculture, irrigation will swallow up most of the available water." Eliminating such wasteful practices can be done by imposing more realistic costs upon them. Accordingly, both domestic and agricultural water is likely to be used more responsibly.
Essentially, water has become analogous to oil in the respect that current world populations have been putting strains upon both, and the manner with which the west has sought to answer depleted water resources is similar to the western approach to diminishing oil reserves. Put differently, it would seem the western faith in capitalistic mechanisms to naturally solve the difficulties of supply and demand fails to clearly apply to resources like oil and water -- resources that lay the very foundation of civilization. Along these lines, Heinberg argues, most western economists recognize that oil is a finite resource that will likely be depleted within fifty years; however, they simultaneously believe that market forces will simply provide a new energy source in place of the old. So, just as market forces can be expected to supply the ailing world with water, they can be expected to supply an energyless world with electricity.
It is not so much that the leaders of Dubai tend to disagree with the western assessment of natural resources as they have simply embraced the inevitability of the changing role of oil within the economy. It may be obvious that subjecting key components of the current world order to liberal economics does not promise stability -- with reference to the current Bolivian civil war -- so the Palm Islands of Dubai seem to offer one immutable economic alternative: tourism. In other words, tourism will remain a major source of income as long as there are people with the money to travel. This fact makes the construction of the Palm Islands a way to dodge the future problems associated with natural resource depletion. Consequently, the fact that a modern wonder of the world is growing out of a nation built upon a finite natural resource should also not be surprising; it is a reasonable fiscal move, given their present position.
The current liberal economy has been identified as the key player in the modern struggle for resources and the drastic reorganization of Dubai's coastline and economy. Contrasting this, many critics of liberal economies have identified imperialism as a necessary consequence of market forces -- powerful nations become able to exert economic and political control over weaker nations by injecting capital into them to draw on potential incomes. Traditional imperialism consists of the outright exploitation of foreign resources and workforces by first exercising military control, but neo-imperialism consists of the exploitation of foreign resources by corporations following the opening of foreign markets. Generally, both have been viewed as the negative consequences of a free market allowed to operate unchecked, and have generated numerous social backlashes: "The frequent observation that globalization is not global, meaning that processes and benefits associated with globalization are uneven throughout the world, is reinforced in this backlash."
So, "Why have resources become so important? As suggested earlier, the adoption of an econocentric security policy almost always leads to an increased emphasis on resource protection -- at least for those states that depend on raw material imports for their industrial prowess." And in the age of economic globalization, this includes every nation with any industrial prowess. However, when the British Empire abandoned Dubai in the early nineteen sixties the oil reserves that were found almost immediately afterwards supplied a local economy with capital rather than a foreign economy. Accordingly, future projections regarding natural resources must be elementally tied to national policies.
Still, the particular social makeup of Dubai makes it a unique state in other ways as well. In the past century Dubai has rapidly become a foreign attraction: "by the 1930s, nearly a quarter of the 20,000 population was foreign, including 2,000 Persians, 1,000 Baluchis, many Indians and substantial communities from Bahrain, Kuwait and the Hasa province in eastern South Arabia." The nation has…[continue]
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