Dubai: Bowed, But Not Broken

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So the crisis in Dubai has evidently passed without taking down the world financial system, or at least that’s what Erin Burnett maintained on CNBC this morning, since the airport there remains busy and the national airline, owned by troubled Dubai World, declared that it won’t cancel its order for new jets. Phew! Still, even though Dubai will carry on, and maybe even one day generate sufficient income to cover its debts — all great cities are the product of hubris, Harvard professor Edward Glaeser recently reminded us — it’s fair to predict that its days as the research-and-development arm of global decadence are probably behind them. No more underwater luxury resorts, no more buildings taller than the world’s tallest, which they already have, no more spectacularly shaped man-made islands. The sybaritic cathedrals of our time have been built. Time to pay the bills, or at least weasel out of them. Which means that it could get quite boring for a while. In the meantime, we recommend watching this excellent slideshow and allowing yourself to to feel a bit of nostalgia for that just-out-of-reach era when Dubai dutifully served as the world’s most expensive reality show, and we all chuckled at all those silly people building those crazy things, secure in the sense that our own vain, hedonistic society was superior. After all, we’ve got debts to weasel out of, also.