• Nada Al Shama

Student thesis: Phd


Dubai's rapid double-digit economic growth was severely challenged by the global financial crisis of 2007, which raised many concerns questioning the sustainability of the Dubai model of economic development and the viability of the emirate's economic managerial practices. Although the economic landscape of Dubai has experienced a significant transformation over the last two decades, from a basic traditional economy of US $ 17.9 billion in 2001 to a diversified non-oil dependent economy of US $ 86.7 billion in 2012, there are few convincing empirical academic studies to assess and explain the Dubai model of economic development. This doctoral research provides a crucial assessment of the Dubai model in light of its political and socio-cultural contexts. For this purpose, a multidisciplinary theoretical framework that stems from the literature of economic geography, cultural economy and managerialism, has been designed in order to critically interpret the mechanism of the emirate's economic practices in today's global capitalism. This involves a methodological approach based on the study of narratives and performance to explain Dubai's narratives and macro-economic performance. The multidisciplinary theoretical framework adopted is useful in analysing the Dubai model as an alternative to the discipline of mainstream economics, which ignores cultural and social dimensions and conditions that not only influence but also shape a given economic landscape. The research was undertaken by analysing a wide range of data, including intensive macro-economic statistics, financial and economic reports, international and local press, as well as conducting empirical in-depth elite interviews with fifty-six key stakeholders in the economy of Dubai: senior government officials, representatives of financial institutions, senior managers in the private non-financial sector, and academics. The research findings reveal that although the political and socio-cultural contexts naturally support Dubai's economic model, institutional and managerial problems were also exposed following the global financial crisis and the property shock of 2007. Dubai represents a financialized economy in which the government has adopted a hybrid model of government-driven developments and corporate managerial features within an environment that encourages commercial liberalism and market capitalism. However, despite this financialized economy, tensions remain in Dubai's pursuit of these goals. Finally, the research stresses the need for appropriate government mechanisms to foster oversight over economic performance and long-term sustainable economic development.
Date of Award31 Dec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorIsmail Erturk (Supervisor) & Richard Common (Supervisor)


  • Dubai Model, economic development, narratives and performance, financialized economy, cultural economy, economic geography, economic sustainability

Cite this