Patrice just pointed (via the sarai reader list) to a fascinating little read about the impact of the cirsis in Dubai. Seems like lots of (primarily British) expats are secretly levaing the country in fear of being jailed for not being able to pay the debts amassed by their bloated lifestyles of the past years. As a result the parking lots arround DXB are becoming clogged with abandoned cars:
[…] Now, faced with crippling debts as a result of their high living and Dubai’s fading fortunes, many expatriates are abandoning their cars at the airport and fleeing home rather than risk jail for defaulting on loans.
Police have found more than 3,000 cars outside Dubai’s international airport in recent months. Most of the cars – four-wheel drives, saloons and “a few” Mercedes – had keys left in the ignition.
Some had used-to-the-limit credit cards in the glove box. Others had notes of apology attached to the windscreen. […]
Under Sharia, which prevails in Dubai, the punishment for defaulting on a debt is severe. Bouncing a check, for example, is punishable with jail. Those who flee the emirate are known as skips. […] [Sonia Verma in the Times online]
Make sure to also have a look at the comment section of this article as they contain a fascinating exchange between devastated expats who where ‘forced’ to leave the Emirates and Pakistanis who see this whole scenario as revenge for the hyper exploitation that characterized the boom years of the past:
Abdul Razaak, Karachi, Pakistan: Built on the sweat, blood n tears of Pakistani, Indian n Bangladeshi construction workers, this land of the rich treated us like mules n made us live in inhumane conditions for far too long. Allaah’s justice is served. How the mighty have washed away in the very sweat, blood n tears of the meek.
Tim, Cairo, Egypt: I worked in Dubai for many years and left last year with outstanding debts that I struggle still to pay. The Dubai system only helped people get into debt, there is no support to get out in a humane way.
BLDGBLG links to another article that attributes most of the abandoned cars to former owners from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries, implying that the burst of the bubble is not only hurting British fortune seekers but also South East Asian migrants that made up the bulk of Dubai’s working class.