Saudi Arabia's Lessons Learned

The economic boom in the gulf countries over the past few years — fueled by the continuous rise of oil prices between 2003 and 2008 — helped put the region on the global economic map. In some ways, the boom became captive to a "mine is bigger than yours" syndrome. Competing states embarked on advertising campaigns and hired in public-relations firms to tout their wares. Developers and rulers alike pushed artificial islands (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait), and in many places real estate became the main economic activity. Officials promoted their cities as financial hubs as a way to diversify...

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