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Life in Dubai : Cranes, Waterparks and Atlantis…


Along with the Hotel and the Waterpark, Atlantis Resort boasts Dolphin Bay (bottom right), an interactive dolphin experience as well as the Lost Chambers (right), a deeply themed marine habitat experience.

I began my career in 1987 in Wildwood, NJ as a lifeguard, moved to Texas where I worked at two waterparks before moving to Dubai in 1999 to open Wild Wadi.  I spent a few years back in the states in both Texas and New Jersey before moving back to Dubai almost seven months ago. 

I am planning to give a little bit of insight on personal and industry life in Dubai.  If the shy inquisitiveness of my friends and family back in the States is any indicator I believe you will find it interesting and a bit exciting.  It might even lead you to visit if you haven’t already, or dare I say it, join the boomtown that is Dubai.

I live and work on Palm Jumierah which is very convenient and provides a wonderful lifestyle.  I walk out the back door of the lobby of my apartment building and I am on a beautiful beach with crystal clear, and depending on the time of year, pleasantly cool seawater.  When I look out my living room window I can see the Burj Al Arab off in the distance, some of the frond villas and a few hotels under construction out on the crescent.  It really is a remarkable place as well as being a remarkable time to be living here. 

Dubai is a small town by world standards.  Thought to be populated by less than two million people it is just a bit larger than San Antonio, Texas.  It is one of seven Emirates that make up the country, which only came into existence on 2 December 1971.  The Ruler of Dubai is His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum who is also the Vice President of the UAE.  While you may think immediately of oil as their major breadwinner you would be mistaken.  Oil revenues account for less than 6% of Dubai’s economy. 

Currently it is believed that some 25% of the world’s cranes are at work in Dubai engaged in the widespread and quite impressive construction boom that’s going on over here.  I could go on and on about just how crazy the pace of development is over here but suffice to say that from my balcony I can see no less than 19 tower cranes at work at any time.  The list of industry projects either built, under construction, or on the drawing board is staggering.  If full build out is achieved it will have more attraction capacity than Orlando, FL.  At the moment the world’s tallest man made structure is in Dubai with Burj Dubai and the only building in the plans to exceed that is planned, go ahead, guess where……yes, Dubai.  It really is hard to get ones arms around until you’ve been here and even then the scope is staggering.  It’s not even the fact that things are changing but the pace at which they change.  When you haven’t been to an area of town for a week and you return there, the whole landscape can have changed dramatically.  A new road may be open, a new building may be started or even finished before you even knew it was under construction. 

In 2000 I decided to leave Dubai to return to Texas.  I can honestly say that Texas is one of my favorite places in the world, but I knew almost immediately that I had made a big mistake.  I have been anxious to return and have patiently courted the job I am now in for five of the seven years I was home.  I couldn’t get back fast enough and I am very happy to have found my way back.  You can rest assured that I will not be leaving any time soon.  Very little crime, censored internet, clean, great levels of service, warm year round (sometimes hot but as my friend Rob Klok says “you have to take the rough with the smooth”), cheap gasoline/petrol, central location many destinations in Europe/Asia/Africa.  I am also very happy that my children, Tyler and Dylan are able to grow up in an environment where they realize the world doesn’t drop off sharply at the edge of town and that people of all nationalities are not much different than they are.  

I think one of the most important things about Dubai to me professionally is that it is focused on doing the industry and doing it at a very high standard.  It reminds me of when I first got involved in the industry and it was dominated by entrepreneurial individuals like the Henrys, the Moreys and the Watermans that truly love/loved their family businesses.  They were unwilling to cut essential bits of their operation to turn a quick profit.  They had their eye on the horizon and made their decisions based on the future health of their business and the industry.  It feels good to be back in that kind of environment again.

I look forward to giving you all a little look into the industry and life here in Dubai. 

Cheers,   Scott Deisley

See also

Dubai: Themed Design and Architecture Straight from the Catwalk

Letter from Dubai: Head-Over-Heels Race to the Future Causes Growing Pains

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