Dubai's Sand Castles

Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

As the manager of a Dubai real estate brokerage, Imran Mohamed, a Scot of Pakistani descent, had a front-row seat at one of the most incredible property bubbles ever. Early last year, a few months before the height of the emirate's boom, he fought his way through the lines at the opening sale of a new waterfront condominium development. Such launches always attracted crowds of investors eager to get the first shot at a new offering, but the buzz that day was especially intense, remembers Mohamed. (He asks that his real name not be used because his company is in financial...

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