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Dubai aims to become the region’s ‘bright light city’

By Frank Kane

When does a series of events signify a trend, and when does a trend become a policy?


I ask this question in the light of recent investments by Dubai organisations in the western part of the United States, which I believe has a momentum all of its own, and is becoming a vital part of Dubai overseas investment policy.


Last week there was news that Zabeel Investments, the private company that is well-connected at the highest levels of the Dubai establishment, had bought a 50 per cent stake in the Las Vegas-based Light Group, owner of the Harmon Hotel.


The deal cements the growing relationship between Dubai and Las Vegas, two cities which see the hospitality and leisure sectors as key to the future diversification – Dubai is aiming to become the “bright light city” of the Middle East.


It will complement the investment last year by Dubai World into the Las Vegas CityCentre development, which is the central plank of the Arizona city’s plans for the future.


Dubai World also has a significant stake in key Las Vegas player MGM Mirage. It is a sound strategy.


Not only does Dubai get access to the lucrative revenue to come from CityCentre, but it also gains experience and expertise in the leisure sector, which is a major aspect of the government’s strategy of diversifying away from energy dependence.


The fruit of the policy will be seen when the Bawadi development gets under way in earnest.


The building of a gigantic leisure metropolis in the deserts of the UAE is a project of Las Vegas-style grandiosity, and is expected to be completed by 2016, boasting the largest hotel in the world, all in an environmentally-sustainable context.


How long before there are further significant financial and corporate alliances between Dubai and the corporates that own and run Las Vegas Inc?