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City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism [Bargain Price] [Hardcover]

Jim Krane
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)


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Book Description

September 15, 2009 0312535740

The city of Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, is everything the Arab world isn’t: a freewheeling capitalist oasis where the market rules and history is swept aside. Until the credit crunch knocked it flat, Dubai was the fastest-growing city in the world, with a roaring economy that outpaced China’s while luring more tourists than all of India. It’s one of the world’s safest places, a stone’s throw from its most dangerous. In City of Gold, Jim Krane, who reported for the AP from Dubai, brings us a boots-on-the-ground look at this fascinating place by walking its streets, talking to its business titans, its prostitutes, and the hard-bitten men who built its fanciful skyline. He delves into the city’s history, paints an intimate portrait of the ruling Maktoum family, and ponders where the city is headed. Dubai literally came out of nowhere. It was a poor and dusty village in the 1960s. Now it’s been transformed into the quintessential metropolis of the future through the vision of clever sheikhs, Western capitalists, and a river of investor money that poured in from around the globe. What has emerged is a tolerant and cosmopolitan city awash in architectural landmarks, luxury resorts, and Disnified kitsch. It’s at once home to America’s most prestigious companies and universities and a magnet for the Middle East’s intelligentsia. Dubai’s dream of capitalism has also created a deeply stratified city that is one of the world’s worst polluters. Wild growth has clogged its streets and left its citizens a tiny minority in a sea of foreigners. Jim Krane considers all of this and casts a critical eye on the toll that the global economic downturn has taken on a place that many tout as a blueprint for a more stable Middle East.  While many think Dubai’s glory days have passed, insiders like Jim Krane who got to know the city and its creators firsthand realize there’s much more to come in the City of Gold, a place that, in just a few years, has made itself known to nearly every person on earth.


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The modern city-state of Dubai exists largely because two men willed it so. Through a combination of prescient investment of resources, grandiose vision and the freedoms of absolute rule, the late Sheikh Rashid and his son (and current ruler) Sheikh Mohammed transformed the backwater village into a global powerhouse erupting onto the earth. Mohammed's ideas are so stamped on the landscape that two of his poems are being written on the sea as a group of [artificial] islands. Dubai-based journalist Krane does a superb job of conveying the near-manic atmosphere swirling around the creation of the world's tallest building (half a mile high), first indoor ski slope (in a mall) and—incidentally—the world's largest carbon footprint, revealing the creativity and tolerance that characterize a city where 95% of its residents are foreigners, as well as the inevitable costs of such lavish ambition. Environmental needs have been ignored (another island was built atop a coral reserve, and migrant laborers and sex workers face routine abuse and exploitation. A fascinating study of a small nation that has taken the ideas of modernization and capitalism to their outer limits. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"“City of Gold” offers a vivid guide to how a Bedouin tribe turned a mud village on a scrap of desert into a glittering city state."--Bloomberg
 
"This landmark work is recommended to those interested in the history, politics, and economics of the Middle East; an excellent choice for anyone who wishes to learn more about Dubai."--Library Journal
 
"The modern city-state of Dubai exists largely because two men willed it so. Through a combination of prescient investment of resources, grandiose vision and the freedoms of absolute rule, the late Sheikh Rashid and his son (and current ruler) Sheikh Mohammed transformed the backwater village into a global powerhouse “erupting onto the earth.” Mohammed's “ideas are so stamped on the landscape that two of his poems are being written on the sea as a group of [artificial] islands.” Dubai-based journalist Krane does a superb job of conveying the near-manic atmosphere swirling around the creation of the world's tallest building (half a mile high), first indoor ski slope (in a mall) and—incidentally—the world's largest carbon footprint, revealing the creativity and tolerance that characterize a city where 95% of its residents are foreigners, as well as the inevitable costs of such lavish ambition. Environmental needs have been ignored (another island was built atop a coral reserve, and migrant laborers and sex workers face routine abuse and exploitation. A fascinating study of a small nation that has taken the ideas of modernization and capitalism to their outer limits."--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
 
"The author hits his stride when he assesses Dubai’s current ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He proceeds to examine this small emirate with admirable even-handedness and good humour. But Krane also writes movingly of the conditions of the Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers who have built Dubai."--The Atlantic
 

“The history of a little Emirate’s epic transformation, from an impoverished pearling enclave, to the shining city on the hill, is revealed in full detail. Jim Krane is a great reporter, whose journalistic credentials are brought to bear in this unique work that is infused with facts, ample history, emotion and stunning narratives.  He leads his audience into the nooks and crannies of the "unknown"  Dubai, to reveal the humanity and intrigue that pulsates beneath the surface. He shows how powerful persons with a global reach collaborated to build an economic gem out of the desert. This is a fast-moving Arabian tale, but very much a modern one; not only laden with facts, it is a guidebook and cautionary tale for other developing nations in their quest to rapidly achieve the Western dream.”-- Justin Dargin, Harvard University - author of Desert Dreams and The Dolphin Project: The Development of a Gulf Gas Initiative

 

"Dubai is fortunate to have as skilled and passionate a chronicler as Jim Krane. The city leaps off these pages with panache, brassiness, splendor and suffering. There is no better book about Dubai, and there may never be." --Jon Alterman, Director of the Middle East Program at CSIS and author of The Vital Triangle: China, The United States and The Middle East

 

 “How did one of the planet’s last unexplored wastelands, for millennia ignored by history, become in just a few short decades the playground of the unimaginably rich? In City of Gold, Jim Krane traces the fascinating and long overlooked history of Dubai, from pirate battles and eccentric British explorers to the glittering spires of a metropolis that emerged from nowhere, in prose as spare and enchanting as a desert fairy tale.”--James Hider, author of The Spiders of Allah: Travels of an Unbeliever on the Frontline of Holy War and Mideast correspondent The Times of London

 

“A marvelous book. Beautifully written! Jim Krane has written a fascinating account of a Middle East we rarely get to hear about.  Jim Krane’s book on Dubai’s rise and fall -- in this era of global financial crisis -- is a cautionary tale for us all.”--Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR Middle East Correspondent


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312535740
  • ASIN: B004A14WB8
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,211,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jim Krane is a longtime reporter for the Associated Press in the Persian Gulf region who has written an energetic new book on Dubai. The book, City of Gold, benefits from his unique insider-outsider perspective. Insider, because Jim got a rare look at the inner workings of government as a consultant in the office of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed; Outsider because his is the first popular work with the scope and courage to examine every angle of Dubai's development - from the swish offices of the city's top policymakers to the grimy labor camps housing the underpaid men who built the city.

Jim has been a journalist for nearly 18 years. He reported from the Middle East and beyond as the AP's Dubai-based Gulf correspondent from 2005-2007. Prior to that he was AP's Baghdad correspondent, covering the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion and the rise of the Iraqi insurgency in 2003 and 2004. He also reported frequently from Afghanistan during those years. Previously Jim was an AP business writer in New York, focusing on technology news.

Besides writing his book, Jim also pens freelance articles for the Financial Times and contributes to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Jim also reported for U.S. newspapers including The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey); The News-Tribune (New Jersey); The Laredo Morning Times (Texas); APBNews.com, a now defunct news service; and Newhouse Newspapers' online operations. He is the winner of several journalism awards, including the 2003 AP Managing Editors Deadline Reporting Award, for coverage of Saddam Hussein's capture in Iraq.

Why a book on Dubai?

Jim arrived in Dubai in January 2005, where he found a city erupting onto the earth. Thousands of new residents streamed in each day. The entire city was a construction site, with more than 10 percent of the world's building cranes at work. Neighborhoods spread across the desert like kudzu. In the course of its six-year boom, Dubai swelled from a modest city the size of Milwaukee to a bloated megalopolis the size of Houston - doubling in population and quadrupling in area. Most incredibly, this wild growth was taking place within a short distance of the carnage in Iraq, and was receiving little notice in the United States.

Dubai, it turned out, was the antithesis of Baghdad. As fast as Iraq was being destroyed - bombed, dismantled and otherwise collapsing - Dubai was accomplishing the opposite, casting off the vestiges of primitivity and rising into magnificence.

There are few, if any, places on earth where the span of modernization is so compressed, where extreme capitalist excess is just a generation removed from Third World poverty. Here, men born in palm shacks became billionaires. Shrewd professors, holders of PhDs from American universities, had been raised by illiterate parents.

The fact that such a success story has risen in the Arab world is of great importance, both inside the region and out. With little notice, Dubai's undemocratic capitalism has become the development model for the rest of the Middle East. Like it or not, the Dubai effect has already touched your life.

But all is not well with this brash city-state. Dubai accomplished its feats on the backs of a vast labor force of mistreated men who have never received their due. The city's success has destroyed far more lives than was necessary. And its wild growth upset the demographic balance, leaving the city 95 percent foreign and nearly 80 percent male. Dubai's pampered natives are such a tiny minority that retaining their sovereignty has become a major worry. Meanwhile, prostitution has become a necessity, spawning the tragic industry of human trafficking.

And, in the months since the onset of global recession, Dubai has emerged as the poster child of the previous era's gluttonous excess. Dubai's once soaring real estate values have collapsed further than anywhere on earth, and unemployed expatriates have fled for the exits. Krane's book examines the viability of Dubai's economic model, going forward.

In short, Dubai is a fascinating topic.



Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Krane is a longtime Middle East correspondent for the AP who was also able to see the inner workings of Dubai's governmental and commercial operations--a feat no other Westerner has pulled off.

Far from an academic book written from a distance, Krane's book is full of the kind of detail and characters that make a book and its message come alive. It also manages to break news on Dubai's relations with the U.S., Iran and Israel. In particular, it shows how the CIA has been recruiting spies from the ranks of Iranians showing up in Dubai at the U.S. embassy looking to escape life in Iran.

Contrary to the review above, Krane pulls no punches and is tough on Dubia's leaders regarding issues like slavery and human trafficking, labor abuse, their environmental depredations, and the lush subsidized lifestyle that is contributing to the city's problems--particularly the shortages of water and power. He also criticize the leadership for completely missing opportunities to mute the effects of the financial crisis, and their sinking real estate market.

The book is considered so negative, in fact, that it's not selling in Dubai or the UAE--stores there are refusing to carry it.

Krane's work also challenges Americans, in particular progressives, to reconsider how the Dubai Ports World debacle reflects poorly on America for its anti-Arab hysteria, rather than the more conventional view that it was too dangerous to allow Dubai to oversee management of a number of our ports. He lays blame squarely on Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer. That's some very unconventional thinking, and nothing like what you would see in an AP report.

Read this book. You will learn a great deal. If interested, you can also read my review of the book on HuffingtonPost: [...]
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond 5 Stars and Merits a Sequel October 1, 2010
Format:Hardcover
The author and I reconnected on LinkedIn and he had the publisher send me a copy of this book. I would not normally have bought it for myself, thinking it a "tourism" or "travel" kind of book, and I would have been very very wrong. The sub-title, "and the Dream of Capitalism," might better read "Case Study in Emirate Capitalism at Its Best."

This book starts very early in the history of Dubai, back when it was such a hole that no one even knew it was there or wanted to go anywhere within thousands of miles of it. The early part of the book persuaded me that the author has done some deep, serious, utterly professional and thorough homework, and the books reads easily, with gifted turns of phrase that educate and often inspire.

Putting the book down just now (and recommending the paperback that comes with a second epilogue for 2010) I reminded myself to recommend this book as a case study for both business and public administration graduate courses, as well as recommended reading for undergraduates. I certainly believe the author himself should be invited--and very well paid--to interact with the most serious and gifted of business and public administration adult students, both on and off the record. This book is a GOLD MINE of insights into what worked in an environment where, as the author describes so beautifully, the leadership knew that lawyers are generally worthless and bureaucracies are pathetic things to be dismissed. For that section alone this book goes into the Beyond 5 Stars (6 Stars and Above) and will be so rated at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.

This book will be cataloged there in Capitalism, not just regional or country, in Leadership, and in a number of other categories as well.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best story of Dubai available February 11, 2010
Format:Hardcover
There is no shortage of journalism about Dubai, nor is there a lack of desire to know more about the emirate. The demand for information on Dubai--from those outside the emirate as well as those who call it their "residence"--is, especially these days, almost unlimited. However, most pieces tend to stumble into one or a couple of pitfalls: they are usually surface level analyses, picking and choosing from a series of stereotypes in order to support some already-articulated generalization; and they are usually far from impartial--either writers want to tell the tale of Dubai's success, or theorize about and/or encourage its potential downfall. It is rare to find a piece about Dubai that is not along one of these extremes. In addition, perhaps most frustrating for interested readers, despite Dubai's being a relatively young city, authors often any avoid any discussion of its history--any mention of a larger perspective on Dubai's origins, its lifeline, its intended future. Instead, most articles try to position Dubai as the main character in a story about the current era--the financial excess, the daring innovations, etc.--rather than telling the tale of Dubai itself. In City of Gold, Mr. Krane not only avoids all of the mentioned tendencies, but his writing seems to be in direct response to these failings.

For one, City of Gold is by no means a stale history of Dubai's development; rather, it is a vibrant telling of the emirates beginnings with the aim of putting into context the current Dubai. Mr Krane has the ability to parcel out the relevant from irrelevant and to assemble the pieces of the puzzle in a way that, even for those who know a bit already, is new and interesting. In building a coherent history, Mr.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Old and dated with sloppy mistakes.
The book, at least in kindle form, is full of many mistakes.

Years are written incorrectly, i.e. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Dnitzer
5.0 out of 5 stars money buys almost everything
Perfect book perfect for the times. This really answers the question how? No, seriously, how did a city that barely registered as a "city" even in its own region take off... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brian Maitland
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into Dubai
I read this book before and even during my visit to the UAE while lying on Jumeirah Beach at Dubai Marina. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Steven K McAllister
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read Before Heading off to Dubai
Perfect book before heading off to Dubai - provides history, economic, and political overview. Covers both the positives and negatives of Dubai's rapid ascent but a little too... Read more
Published 5 months ago by James Hamill
4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction
I started reading this near the end of a trip to Dubai and I wish I had read it earlier. It is an excellent introduction to this city-state and will explain in advance many of the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jon Willis
4.0 out of 5 stars I really liked this
Very informative, well captured, author researched well and shared all the relevant information, great insight to a growing city **
Published 10 months ago by Pamela
5.0 out of 5 stars Required text for a college class...
....and well worth the money I spent. It's amazing to learn how Dubai arose from nothing in a matter of decades. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Biggs
4.0 out of 5 stars Visited Dubai recently...
And really wanted to know the "story" behind the "wow" - book did a good job of detailing the history behind the people, the rulers, and how this country came to... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Cathryn F Reavis
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Flight Book on Dubai
I just finished reading Jim Krane's "City of Gold" book about Dubai. Having spent a fair amount of time in the Middle East and having written a bit about the region myself, I... Read more
Published 14 months ago by George Mullen
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
An excellent overview about the beginnings of Dubai. This book is a facinating introduction to understanding a new country. Wonderful story, won derful people!
Published 14 months ago by Harriet Sheinman
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