If it feels like every week brings news of yet another cash-strapped American company raising money from Abu Dhabi or Dubai or selling itself entirely to one of these emirates, it isn't your imagination. From real estate (the GM building) to finance (Citigroup), cash has been pouring in from the Middle East as of late. But the expressway of money goes in both directions. Today the Times covered many of the banks setting up shop in Dubai. But loads of other prominent New Yorkers are heading East to take advantage of the petro-dollar gravy train. Here's a look at the growing list of prominent restaurateurs, fashion designers, architects, and real estate developers setting up shop in one of the world's fastest-growing—and richest—regions.
You don't have to manufacture diamond-encrusted burkas to get in on petrobillionaires' wives' ravenous appetite for designer duds. New York-based fashion gurus are opening boutiques in Dubai's constantly multiplying high-end malls (places like the famous Mall of the Emirates, which sports the world's largest indoor ski slope). So far Michael Kors and Betsey Johnson have gotten in on the action, there are two Calvin Klein boutiques in the emirate, an outpost of Saks Fifth Avenue recently opened there, and designer Karl Lagerfeld has signed a deal to design 80 limited-edition homes on Isla Moda, the world's "first dedicated fashion island." A Dubai outpost of Barneys seems likely in light of its 2007 takeover by Dubai-based investment firm Isthimar.
Real Estate & Hotels
With Al-Nakheel, one of Dubai's largest developers, Donald Trump recently broke ground on the 62-story Trump International Hotel & Tower located on Palm Jumeirah. Trump says his interest in Dubai was piqued by buddy Andrew Farkas, whose Island Global Yachting is the exclusive developer and operator of Nakheel's marina and yacht-related properties. Naturally, all those buildings rising need someone to lease and sell them, too: New York retail real estate leaser Robert K. Futterman is now active in Dubai, as is Michael Shvo. And someone has to make all those new skyscrapers and condos look pretty as well. Society decorator Geoffrey Bradfield now has an office in Dubai, and Bruce Fowle's firm is designing the world's longest arch bridge there.
Gordon Ramsay paved the way for celebuchefs to enter Dubai with his restaurant Verre in the Hilton Dubai Creek. Now Nobuyuki Matsuhisa is set to open a Nobu at Atlantis, The Palm and Daniel Boulud are said to have a project in the works (possibly in collaboration with Thomas Keller), and even Alison Nelson's cloying Chocolate Bar of the East Village is going to be opening in the emirate.
Institutions of higher learning are getting in on the action, too. NYU has found a financial lifeline in the U.A.E. and is now building a near carbon-copy of itself in Abu Dhabi. "The city-state of Abu Dhabi, having already committed a $50 million 'gift' (effectively a down payment) to the university, has promised to finance the entire Middle East campus and a good deal of NYU New York as well," writes New York.