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Dubai: Real Estate Downturn's Effect

February 08, 2009

If you think the collapsing real estate market is a problem in America, read this article in the Times of London about how bad things have gotten in Dubai.

According to the story, more than 3,000 abandoned cars have been found at the Dubai airport in recent months, some with the keys still in the ignition and credit cards in the golf compartments.

"Every day we find more and more cars," one unnamed senior airport security official told the Times. "Christmas was the worst -- we found more than two dozen on a single day."

Presumably, the cars belonged to expatriates who came to Dubai in the last decade to cash in on the country's glitzy lifestyle, which was fueled mostly by the country's exploding real state market. Now that that real estate market has collapsed, those same expats -- many of whom have lost their jobs -- are fleeing the country almost as quickly as they arrived.

It's not exactly a golf story -- except that golf has played such a prominent role in Dubai's tourism and real estate growth. And, of course, there is the matter of that FedEx Cup-style, $10 million "Race to Dubai" finish to the European Tour season starting this year. Stories like this make you wonder how that might be affected.

-- G.R.