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Know Your Emirates

As the rivalry between Dubai and Abu Dhabi heats up, a tale of the tape.

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Ski Dubai (left) and Emirates Palace (right).  

Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are oil-rich city-states within the United Arab Emirates, and both are determined to make their mark on the world. Last week, Abu Dhabi made a splash with its $7.5 billion investment in Citigroup, overshadowing the usually-showier Dubai’s $1.5 billion investment in Sony, announced the day before. But in terms of global glamour, Dubai is still ahead: its lavish International Film Festival opens December 9. George Clooney will be there; Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park will screen.

DUBAI
WHAT THEY’VE GOT:
Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building.
→ A $1 billion Marvel Comics theme park, coming soon.
→ Cirque du Soleil.
→ A $500 million underwater hotel, the Hydropolis.
→ A series of artificial islands.
→ Building huge Dubai World Central International Airport.
Ski Dubai, an artificial slope in the desert.

WHAT THEY OWN:
Dubai’s investment fund owns New York icons like Barneys and the Knickerbocker Hotel, as well as various Park Avenue office buildings. It also has big stakes in Sony, MGM Mirage, and NASDAQ.

WHO LOVES ’EM:
“In no way, shape, or form do I hide the fact that I believe in Israel … From the beginning of civilization, Muslim rulers had Jewish advisers. I think it is actually a plus.”
Real-estate mogul Sam Zell, on doing business with Dubai’s rulers.


ABU DHABI
WHAT THEY’VE GOT:
→ A planned Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim.
→ Abu Dhabi Fashion Week, coming in March 2008.
→ NYU, arriving in 2010.
Emirates Palace, the world’s most expensive hotel.
→ A branch of the Sorbonne.
→ A planned Jean Nouvel–designed Louvre.
→ The Zaha Hadid–designed Performing Arts Centre.

WHAT THEY OWN:
The Citigroup investment is Abu Dhabi’s only blue-chip New York brand. But its investments include stakes in Advanced Micro Devices and politically connected private-equity powerhouse the Carlyle Group.

WHO LOVES ’EM:
“It seemed to me that this is good for Citigroup, it’s good for jobs in New York. It … allows what is fundamentally a very strong company to weather a difficult time.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, on Abu Dhabi’s Citigroup investment.

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