Maybe you’ve seen them in action on YouTube? The window cleaners of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest man-made structure. The iconic Dubai skyscraper stands more than 2,700 feet tall and its estimated 24,000 windows spread over 206 storeys take around three months to clean using nothing more than good old fashioned soap and water. Incredible. Frightening.
Dubai is a modern city like no other, a metropolis fringed by deserts and the deep blue seas of the Persian Gulf. It’s a magnet for both the tourist and expatriate alike and little wonder. You want to shop in the largest mall in the world? You got it. Or shop 124 floors up in the Burj Khalifa’s At the Top boutique? You got that, too. Want a choice of the best of personal banking from multinationals you already know and trust? And be able to apply for a credit card, loan or open a current account? You’ve got all of that and more.
If you can’t go there in person, YouTube is also the place to see Dubai’s spectacular dancing fountain. The fountain, which literally basks in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, is one of the most spectacular water displays to be seen anywhere. Covering a distance of more than 300 metres and combining water, light and sound, the fountain sprays 22,000 gallons of water into the air at any one moment. Some 6,600 lights and 25 colour projectors create the variety of heart-stopping patterns for which the fountain has now become so famous.
Looking out across the vast expanse of the city, it’s not surprising visitors find it hard to believe there was only desert sand to be seen a few short decades before. No Burj Khalifa. No modern gleaming steel, concrete and glass structures. No man-made islands. No highways. No businesses or banks. No HSBC credit card or cash machines. No tourists or first class hotels. No homes or people to live in them. Oil changed everything and propelled the United Arab Emirates (UAE) into the modern world. The UAE has never looked back since.
If big banking has made a home in Dubai, then so has international business, encouraged by a government fully aware the country’s vast oil wealth cannot last forever. So diversification has been the watchword for quite a number of years now. And with diversification has come the development of a taxation and regulatory regime which has encouraged thousands of international companies both large and small to set up in the country.
And why wouldn’t they given that there are no direct taxes levied on corporate profits or personal income and full foreign ownership is allowed. Other benefits include low or zero customs duties; 100% repatriation of capital and profits; and no foreign exchange controls, trade quotas or barriers. Visa regulations are relaxed enough to allow expatriate workers to be hired with relative ease.
Add to all of that high quality infrastructure, low levels of crime, a clean environment, excellent weather, and a friendly, tolerant and cosmopolitan population. Is it a wonder then Dubai is such a popular destination for the thousands of expatriates from around the world? Hardly. Click here to see the window cleaners of the Burj Khalifa in action. Only those with a strong stomach should watch!