The Lessons of Dubai

KARIM SAHIB / AFP / Getty

A man points toward the city from the top of Burj Khalifa

If the rulers of Dubai cringe at the bad publicity the emirate city-state has copped since its go-go economy burst in 2008, they have only themselves to blame. After all, it was they who courted the media glare in the first place. Little more than empty desert a generation ago, Dubai had no logical reason to build a Manhattan-style skyline, let alone the world's tallest building. No reason, that is, except the kind of grandiose ambition that turned what was a backwater into one of the world's most dynamic cities.

When construction began on the Burj Dubai...

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