Our towns: Dubai

Neilson's Global Brands Survey published in May 2008 said that Hong Kong and Dubai have something special in common: shopping, especially shopping for luxury goods - and that both have many visitors coming into the country for that reason.

We see another side to Dubai - and again, it's similar to Hong Kong. It's a place where people put their money and occasionally come to visit it.

But whilst Hong Kong is a long established international financial centre, Dubai's entry into the market is relatively recent. And just as Hong Kong built office towers that were a model of forward thinking, so is Dubai following that same course with some absolutely spectacular edifices.

Dubai is a centre for all manner of international financial services, including the rapidly growing Islamic finance industry.

Dubai is almost a town of two halves, divided by a long bridge.

But a different division also exists, between the new and the old parts of town.

Dubai has beaches (yes, it is in the desert but surprisingly there is also a lot of water around), spas and unlike some of its neighbours it is not a "dry" country. However, drunkenness is frowned upon, as are immoral activities.

Politics and religion are generally not discussed, but business is discussed everywhere.

Dubai is a relaxed city, with few of the rushing pressures of Hong Kong or, for that matter, London or New York. But it is an efficient city where everything works, you can drink the water and walk around in safety.

© 2009 The Financial Crime Forum