Dubai: We will not become risk averse
Dubai will not become risk averse in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, according to the head of the developer responsible for many of the emirate's high-profile projects.
Emaar chairman Mohammed Alabbar mounted a spirited defence of Dubai's ambitious economic strategy in a speech delivered at the iconic Burj Khalifa - his firm's most famous development.
"Dubai has been criticised for taking too much risk," he told the Arabian Business Forum. "The city will never stop taking risk - because we are energetic, because we want prosperity, we want success and we will continue to take risk."
After promising at the outset of his remarks he would be "frank and candid", Alabbar conceded the emirate's property market was still suffering from over-supply, admitted to his own mistakes in recent years, and revealed his frustration with aspects of being a publicly listed company.
"I think I have made a lot of mistakes," he said, citing errors in the hiring of senior staff, and the fact Emaar took too long to enter India. "I really don't like being public - I don't like quarterly results, I don't like that I have to stand up every three months and tell you how I have behaved in the last three months," he said, before softening and saying he had learned to "love" being at the helm of a public firm.
To Dubai's critics, he said the emirate had strong infrastructure to show for its investments, unlike those that lost fortunes on the stock market.
Alabbar said Emaar's exposure to Dubai's sluggish property market would be offset by the firm's projects in India, Saudi Arabia, and Syria - countries short of homes.
Dubai's future economic growth is assured, he said, as it is the only city of its kind in a growing Middle East region with 300 million people.
"We hope Abu Dhabi succeeds, we hope Qatar succeeds, we hope everyone succeeds," he said.
"But this city - because of the vibrancy, because of the infrastructure, because of 205 nationalities living here - is the star, it's the dynamo."