Dubai is 'hot'

Sheikh compares Dubai to A-list celebrity in wake of debt crisis...

Dubai is an A-list player on the global economic stage, Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum said at the Arabian Business Conference in Dubai.

He said he believes this is why the emirate's recent debt situation has attracted such huge media attention.

You see the hottest celebrities on the covers of magazines, he said. Equating Dubai to a celebrity he said Dubai was A-list.

"Dubai is hot," he said, adopting a similar phrase made famous by US heiress Paris Hilton.

"As long as we matter we are significant," he added. For such a small state Dubai has made an "impressive" impact and he observed that "during the downturn [Dubai] made a bigger splash than Lehmans going down and our debt is less than a large big European bank".

Looking to the future, Sheikh Maktoum Hasher said the recovery was likely to start by the end of 2012 but the way in which Dubai communicates with the outside world needs to be overhauled.

"Dubai will not communicate things the way they did [in the past]," he said.

"We need an international adapter to understand sensitivities."

The nephew of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikh Maktoum is CEO of the UAE-based conglomerate Al Fajer Group, president of its real estate arm Al Fajer Properties, and director of Shadar Holdings, which in addition to Virgin Megastores also counts brands such as Promod, Pull & Bear and Bershka among its subsidiaries.

In April, he was appointed chairman of Al Nasr Sports Club, Dubai's oldest football club.

Sheikh Hasher has been quick to support Dubai in the wake of the emirate's debt crisis, which began last month.

Following the announcement that Dubai, part of the UAE, had asked to delay payment on debt issued by its flagship conglomerate Dubai World, Sheikh Hasher told Arabian Business he had no doubts about the emirate's ability to manage its debt.

"Restructuring debt in a downturn is a normal scenario," he said. "Many companies and governments have renegotiated debt and I view this as a positive outcome. I believe in Dubai and the UAE in the long term, no matter what."

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