[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2014.
Dubai’s rapid double-digit economic growth was severely challenged by the global financial
crisis of 2007, which raised many concerns questioning the sustainability of the Dubai
model of economic development and the viability of the emirate’s economic managerial
practices. Although the economic landscape of Dubai has experienced a significant
transformation over the last two decades, from a basic traditional economy of US $
17.9 billion in 2001 to a diversified non-oil dependent economy of US $ 86.7 billion
in 2012, there are few convincing empirical academic studies to assess and explain
the Dubai model of economic development. This doctoral research provides a crucial
assessment of the Dubai model in light of its political and socio-cultural contexts.
For this purpose, a multidisciplinary theoretical framework that stems from the literature
of economic geography, cultural economy and managerialism, has been designed in order
to critically interpret the mechanism of the emirate’s economic practices in today’s
global capitalism. This involves a methodological approach based on the study of narratives
and performance to explain Dubai’s narratives and macro-economic performance. The
multidisciplinary theoretical framework adopted is useful in analysing the Dubai model
as an alternative to the discipline of mainstream economics, which ignores cultural
and social dimensions and conditions that not only influence but also shape a given
economic landscape. The research was undertaken by analysing a wide range of data,
including intensive macro-economic statistics, financial and economic reports, international
and local press, as well as conducting empirical in-depth elite interviews with fifty-six
key stakeholders in the economy of Dubai: senior government officials, representatives
of financial institutions, senior managers in the private non-financial sector, and
academics. The research findings reveal that although the political and socio-cultural
contexts naturally support Dubai's economic model, institutional and managerial problems
were also exposed following the global financial crisis and the property shock of
2007. Dubai represents a financialized economy in which the government has adopted
a hybrid model of government-driven developments and corporate managerial features
within an environment that encourages commercial liberalism and market capitalism.
However, despite this financialized economy, tensions remain in Dubai's pursuit of
these goals. Finally, the research stresses the need for appropriate government mechanisms
to foster oversight over economic performance and long-term sustainable economic development.