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Last updated at 17:35 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Dubai dream turns sour


27 November 2009

Investors have raised concerns about Dubai's ability to repay its multi-billion-dollar debts, after one of the emirate's biggest companies, Dubai World, said it was struggling to repay its loans. The company is owned by the government.

Magdi Abdelhadi


Dubai debt problems have knocked shares around the world


Click to hear the report:


For years Dubai appeared to have turned itself into a successful model - super-modern, yet Arab, spurring many of its neighbours to imitate the flamboyant Western architecture and its approach to diversifying an oil-based economy. It had also become a magnet for other Arabs dreaming of the material comfort of a Western lifestyle.

But as the debt crisis began to bite the dream turned sour. Reports speak of many forced to literally dump their cars by the airport and flee the country for fear of the consequences of defaulting on their personal loans.

The question now is whether Dubai's much richer Arab neighbours will come to its rescue.

Magdi Abdelhadi, BBC News


Click to hear the vocabulary:


turned itself

become through a lot of effort


stimulating, or encouraging somebody (here, other countries in the region) to try harder

diversifying an oil-based economy

making sure that its economy is varied and expands into many different areas of business other than only oil production

a magnet

here, a place that many people are strongly attracted to (i.e. they want to come and live there)

to bite

to be felt in a negative way

turned sour

if something, e.g. a situation, turns sour, it is no longer enjoyable or hopeful


leave with no intention of coming back and collecting it

defaulting on

being unable to pay off

come to its rescue

here, provide financial support in order to help Dubai's economy