Ponder the concept of 'first mover advantage', ie: that there is
innate benefit in embracing boldness and being first out of the
blocks. There are plenty of examples where this proved the correct
strategy, but occasionally it can prove a costly mistake.
Exhibit A - Dubai. Of all the United Arab Emirates, Dubai was
the first to realise that oil was a finite resource and that life
after fossil fuel revenue would be pretty bleak unless they
diversified. Admittedly, the fact that they had considerably less
of the black stuff than neighbours Abu Dhabi might have forced
their hand, but in the blink of an eye Dubai morphed from a sleepy
fishing town into a major tourist centre, investment property
centre and serious transport hub. Then, as we all know, the bubble
burst in spectacular fashion.
And who came riding on a magnificent arab stallion to the
rescue? That's right, neighbouring Abu Dhabi, who bailed out their
profligate neighbours to the tune of $10 billion, but Abu Dhabi has
learnt lessons and plotted its post-petroleum future far more
strategically, with far more emphasis on culture.
Abu Dhabi is also blessed with a far more interesting natural
landscape than its neighbour. Where Dubai has had to build islands,
Abu Dhabi has over 200, none built from scratch, nor obviously
man-made when viewed from space. In addition, where Dubai has
scrubby desert, Abu Dhabi features part of the fabled Empty
Quarter, the largest dune sea in the world, where Thesiger
experienced the harshness and beautiful simplicity of Bedouin
Add a fast growing clutch of seriously luxurious hotels for
families and couples alike, and some excellent restaurants, and we
suspect Abu Dhabi might become a serious player in the holiday
stakes in the none too distant future.