Back in Texas, Brooke Butler’s friends are worrying about their homes and jobs. Butler has other worries. “I’m thinking it’ll take about 5 years to make a million now,” the 24-year-old saleswoman tells New York. “It’s not that difficult over here.” Here is Dubai, the Persian Gulf emirate with a real-estate and investment boom seemingly immune to the world’s economic crisis.
Young Americans with dimmed prospects at home are flocking to Dubai, where consumer confidence remains high thanks to the monarch whose ambition made this luxury paradise. But Dubai is carrying $48 billion in debt—103% of GDP—and some believe neighboring Abu Dhabi will have to bail it out. That, a local says, would end the party. “It would say to the world, ‘Dubai Inc. has failed.’”