By Michelle Graff

I’ve been back a few weeks now from my latest trip, this one to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was one of those trips where I was gone less than a week (after flying for 12 hours), but it felt like I had been gone for a month, so much happened while I was there.

The conference I was sent to attend—the Middle-East China Diamond & Jewellery Summit—didn’t result in any spectacular revelations—more, seemingly, was said at the recent “emergency” summit in Antwerp, Belgium—but I did gain a better understanding of what’s going on with the diamond supply pipeline in light of the global financial crisis, and I did take away some impressions about this particular corner of the world, which is always essential when traveling, whether for business or pleasure.

During the conference, several speakers talked about the growth of markets in both the Middle East and China, and growth indeed seems to be the watchword in Dubai. 

Anywhere you go in the city, everywhere you look, there are towers going up, with seemingly no master plan for connecting them, creating neighborhoods, unclogging the roads and making it livable.
In fact, the Almas Tower (pictured here), a vertical version of Antwerp's Diamond Square Mile, if you will, which will essentially house Dubai’s growing diamond industry, is part of a development called Jumeirah Lakes Towers, a development of 87 high-rise buildings, (yes, you read that correctly), both residential and commercial. 

Is it just me, or does this seem just a wee bit overly ambitious in this economy? While the super-rich were at one time shielded from the downturn, talk to any analyst today and they will tell you this: Today, nobody is immune. The downturn is going to hit everyone, everywhere, even if certain people, areas of the world, or industries don’t want to admit it.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed my time in Dubai. There was a lot to see and do, and I met some fabulous people during my six-day stay there. And, as always, I enjoy traveling to new places as it gives me yet another perspective on the world. I just have to question how much they are growing in Dubai and if today’s economy can support such growth in any market.

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