When suggesting to government officials in Dubai that there is a danger the emirate will become complacent and lose its competitive advantage as its neighbours build new airports, ports and financial centres, the retort is always the same: “We are not able to be complacent with a leader like Sheikh Mohammed [bin Rashid al-Maktoum].”

The Dubai leader’s indomitable drive can be felt more than usual in 2015. With oil prices falling and real estate prices cooling, the omens at the start of the year were far from rosy, with some, albeit a small minority, even forecasting that an economic shock comparable to the 2008-09 downturn was looming.

Those grim predictions have not yet materialised and, on the contrary, instead of projects being cancelled, work on new schemes has started as Dubai sternly ploughs ahead. The forward momentum contrasts starkly with other markets in the GCC that have slowed due to lower oil prices and growing security fears across the region.

The main priority for Dubai is the 2020 World Expo and the infrastructure that will need to be built to make hosting such a large event possible. The emirate’s Roads & Transport Authority is about to tender the construction of a metro link to the Expo site and Dubai World Trade Centre is preparing to appoint consultants for infrastructure work on the site itself.

Away from the Expo, other schemes such as the new Atlantis resort on the Palm Jumeirah and Burj 2020 – the world’s tallest commercial tower – are moving towards construction.

The progress demonstrates that despite the problems of recent years, Dubai has retained the ability to drive ahead with projects. With so much work rushing forward, companies working on these new schemes will be hoping the emirate also maintains the ability to pay their bills.

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