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Dubai's Plan to Outlive Oil

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Sep 07, 2018

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Dubai's Plan to Outlive Oil
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  • This video is sponsored by Skillshare.
  • The first 500 people to use the link in the description get their first two months free.
  • This is Dubai, one of seven monarchies which form the United Arab Emirates, and this is
  • The World, a three hundred island archipelago right off its coast.
  • There’s an island for almost everyone but Israel - including California, Antarctica,
  • even North Korea, ya know, for anyone just dying to visit.
  • So, why draw the world with 300 million cubic meters of sand?
  • Well, why drive million dollar police cars, or build a tower so tall you can watch the
  • sunset, ride to the top, and watch it again,
  • Why build a ski resort in the middle of the desert?
  • Because… well, because they’re… cool.
  • It probably sounds familiar: A country discovers its sitting on black gold and its royalty
  • becomes unbelievably rich, while the average person can… barely eat.
  • But, not quite.
  • Dubai does have oil, but today it only accounts for less than one percent of its GDP.
  • What looks like pure extravagance is actually pure marketing genius, attracting 14 million
  • international visitors a year, who spend more than any other city in the world,
  • 65% more, even, than New York or London.
  • The Burj Al Arab hotel, for example, only has 200 rooms, each two stories tall.
  • It wasn’t built to make a profit, but draw travelers with deep pockets.
  • To its neighbors, Dubai is progressive and modern, to others, it’s very traditional
  • and religious.
  • It’s the pinnacle of luxury, yet many are enslaved, living on next to nothing.
  • So, how did Dubai become such an exception?
  • Geography is the recipe for civilization - it decides where people can go and what they
  • can build,
  • That’s what makes Dubai so remarkable, It’s the last place you’d want to found your
  • city.
  • The obvious reason is climate, which ranges from arid desert to… unbearably arid desert,
  • the part of Australia even it kinda just, gave up on.
  • And, that’s, well, that’s it.
  • It rains a whole five days a year, with 106 degree days and 88 degree nights.
  • During the winter, it drops all the way to a freezing cold…
  • 77 degrees.
  • Next, agriculture! or, lack thereof.
  • Because less than one percent of the country’s land is arable, only a third of which is irrigated.
  • Large portions are covered in a salty crust called Sabkha, making it less than useless
  • for growing anything but… league players.
  • And the entire 3.2 million square kilometer peninsula lacks a single natural river.
  • The United States, in comparison, has 250,000.
  • 98.8% of Dubai’s water has to be pumped from the Persian Gulf and desalinated.
  • Okay, so terrible climate, plus poor agriculture plus no source of water, equals… major international
  • city?!
  • Let’s rewind…
  • Before it had armies, borders, or diplomacy, Dubai was ruled by tribes called Sheikhdoms.
  • until the early 1800’s, When pirates in the gulf did the unthinkable: they got between
  • Britain and its tea, attacking its valuable trade route with India.
  • Now the region had strategic value, and the English, an excuse to plant their flag.
  • The last thing they wanted was another tea…affair, ya know, you go easy on them and next thing
  • you know they want fair and equal representation.”
  • That’s no good.
  • So, they proposed a truce: stop stealing our tea and we’ll protect your territory.
  • Oh, and Ps., we’re the captain now.
  • The British settled disagreements between Sheikhdoms, now called the Trucial States,
  • and they promised not to work with any other country.
  • Which, put them in a strange position.
  • On one hand, the tribes were isolated from the world.
  • With Britain as a barrier, they struggled to trade, or grow, or develop.
  • But - it also gave them incredible stability - the first pillar of Dubai’s success.
  • Not a single leader has been overthrown since.
  • And to this day, whenever there’s violence or chaos in the world, investors turn to Dubai
  • for a safe place to put their money.
  • 9/11, for example, should’ve been terrible for its economy, two of the attackers were
  • from the country, and its banks were used to launder money,
  • But when the U.S. responded with the Patriot Act, it scared away Arab investors, who went
  • from pumping 25 billion a year into the U.S. economy to only 1.2.
  • All that money was looking for safety, and Dubai was the answer.
  • The ultimate test of stability was the Arab Spring, with protests in Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
  • Libya, Syria, Kuwait, Yemen, well, all these countries…
  • But not the Emirates, who sat with their toes in the sand, sipping a cocktail while their
  • neighbors used a different kind of cocktail.
  • They escaped revolution because of their unusual social structure:
  • North Korea maintains stability not because it has the resources to keep people happy,
  • but because it doesn’t need to.
  • Everyone is either too preoccupied to revolt, or too isolated to know.
  • Dubai is the opposite - it leaves no reason to revolt.
  • Citizens get free land, water, education, health care, and subsidized electricity, food,
  • gas, and weddings.
  • It can afford this without the T-word by carefully managing its citizenship.
  • 85% of the population are expats, compared to, say, America’s 14.
  • You may have been born in Dubai, you may have lived there 50 years, but you’re almost
  • certainly never becoming a citizen.
  • The second pillar is commerce.
  • In 1971 the British decided they had bigger fish and chips to fry, leaving the tribes
  • to fend for themselves.
  • But Iran, ya know, not wanting them to get lonely, swooped in on the very last day before
  • they left, capturing several islands.
  • The British cared about as much as a senior on their last day of school.
  • But when ships arrived on the third island, one of the tribes had an idea.
  • ”Hey, looks like you’re admiring this lovely beach-front property here.
  • Can we lease it to you for 3 million?”
  • The Iranians agreed, and put away the weapons they had, for some reason, taken to look at
  • real estate.
  • The seven tribes became seven emirates, forming the country we know today.
  • And their spirit of business continued.
  • When Iran increased its taxes, Dubai lowered its own, and gave free land to any company
  • willing to move.
  • Today, Dubai attracts businesses with special economic zones like Science Park and Media
  • city, which has become the Middle Eastern hub for journalists, and in the process, given
  • Dubai lots of free press.
  • Each zone has different laws, a British court system, and uses American dollars.
  • They’re almost different countries.
  • But even more important in Dubai’s plan to replace oil is tourism.
  • Long ago, the pearl industry constituted 95% of the Gulf economy.
  • Until the Japanese developed artificially cultured versions, devastating Dubai’s only
  • income.
  • But it learned the lesson - never rely on just one resource.
  • So when it discovered oil in 1966, Dubai invested the money in roads, factories, ports, and
  • state-run businesses.
  • Before it could become a tourist destination, it needed a way to get people there,
  • Luckily, Dubai has a natural advantage, conveniently located between Europe and Asia, Africa, and
  • Australia.
  • It began with British airplanes refueling on their way to India,
  • Imperial Airways paying about $150 a month for landing rights, but Dubai knew it could
  • do better.
  • First, it opened its skies to any airline that would come.
  • Later, when Gulf Air dropped 45 of its weekly flights, Dubai decided it needed an airline
  • of its own.
  • And that’s when it really took off.
  • Today, Dubai’s is the busiest international airport in the world.
  • And Emirates, the fourth largest airline by distance traveled.
  • Dubai has plenty of challenges ahead, But with these three pillars, it’s well prepared
  • for a world without oil.
  • Its leaders understand the power of diversifying your skill set, and so should you and I.
  • With Skillshare, you can learn and master all kinds of creative and professional skills
  • that will help you do just that.
  • I’ve created my own course for anyone interested in learning how to make animated videos like
  • this one.
  • I go over the research, writing, animation, everything you need to make a YouTube video
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  • Thanks to Skillshare for supporting this show, and to you for listening.

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First 500 people to sign up for Skillshare at https://skl.sh/polymatter9 get 2 months free - including my new course “How to Make an Animated YouTube Video”

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Today, Dubai is a global economic hub, home to massive tourism and business industries. But not that long ago, it was only an outpost in the barren desert.

This includes a paid sponsored promotion which had no part in the writing, editing, or production of the rest of the video.

Music by Varsity Star: https://varsitystar.bandcamp.com/releases
their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/varsitystarmusic/

Music by Epidemic Sound: http://epidemicsound.com

Inspired by “City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism” by Jim Krane
Antarctica - Single Color http://www.freevectormaps.com/antarctica/AQ-EPS-01-0001?ref=atr by FreeVectorMaps.com
Dubai Police Car footage from Dubai Press channel /watch?v=hgaDPJcTXw0
Dubai The World photo: Alan Pearce https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanpearce/9584409024/

Full list of sources: https://pastebin.com/AzgZ4XuM

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