Dubai, a modern city of steel and plate-glass tower blocks, with a network of flyovers and underpasses, is being promoted as a trade, tourism and business hub.
A major hub for shipping and aviation, Dubai is becoming a pivotal point for trade flows that have been extended as far south as Central Africa and as far north as the states of the former Soviet Union.
In addition, the emirate has incorporated all the attractions of the world's modern business cities, including a clear and distinctive message that "it means business".
A few months ago, Dubai's prisoners, or "our guests" as they are referred to by prison officials, were given access to phones, faxes, conference rooms and even secretaries to help them maintain the business spirit while incarcerated.
"About a third of our prisoners are here because of financial problems, so we think it is more logical to allow them to sort out their finances and go free than to do nothing," a prison official explained.
Business is a serious matter in Dubai, even for those languishing in the emirate's prisons. Business is the very fabric of Dubai. Promoting the emirate officials say, "the best place in the world to do business: no taxes, no recruitment problems, no currency restrictions, efficient services, abundant energy, hassle-free bureaucracy and a market of over one billion people".
On top of that, Dubai's government is spending billions to turn the emirate into a centre for hi-tech industries, financial services and tourism similar to that of Singapore and Hong Kong and it has the money to achieve it.
Realising the need to restructure many sectors of the economy, improve infrastructure and continue to attract multi-national companies, the emirate has drafted a 20-year plan to encourage long-term private sector investment in both non-oil manufacturing and trade.
In 1995 Dubai invited private investors to join the government in establishing Dubai Investments (DI).
Capitalised at 1.3 billion dirhams ($354 million), DI has so far invested in more than eight ventures, over half of which are in manufacturing. The objective is to allow the private sector to lead economic growth between now and the year 2000.
All this is taking place against a background of booming trade statistics.
During the past few years trade has become an increasingly important component of Dubai's business. The emirate has invested large funds to establish its role as a regional trading...