Built on shifting sands

Author: | Published: 1 Jul 2007

Simon Crompton

Sheikh Zayed road is a riot of architectural competition. Each skyscraper along Dubai's main strip has its own quirk – a sliver held aloft on the fortieth floor, a slice taken out of the middle, a luxurious exterior of green glass and gold balconies. But in between each of these inventions is sand. Try and walk a couple of hundred metres from one office to the next and you will find yourself stepping into the road, around piles of rubble and across sandpits. A similar disconnection in the law is hampering the growth of the banks in those offices.

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has been an unmitigated success since its inception in 2004. There are now over 400 entities registered for business there. And although this includes anyone working in the centre (Café Barbera was registrant number 91, Cuadro art gallery number 342) it also contains most...