Dubai to be home to planets largest Chinatown

Published:  2 Aug at 6 PM
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Will Dubai’s Chinese invasion squeeze out Western expat professionals?

China’s in-your-face expansionist moves have so far been mainly confined to smaller Asian countries, but Dubai’s Dragon Mart development and its projected Dragon City will see the largest Chinese trading, retail and residential hub outside the mother country. Cleverly timed to coincide with the Chinese’ premier’s arrival in Dubai on an official visit, the UAE-based developer’s plan of an entire ‘city’ dedicated to Chinese expats and investors will easily dwarf all other Chinatowns in major world cities and become a massive residential, business and tourism hub.

Given Dubai’s and the UAE’s present economic situation, encouraging Chinese immigration and investment must seem like a sensible idea to the emirate’s rulers, but long-term non-Asian expat professionals aren’t exactly comfortable with the scheme. The new Dragon City Chinatown will be built as part of a massive mega-development at Dubai Creek Harbour, just 10 minutes from the international airport and the Burj Khalifa and, together with the planned expansion of the Dragon Mart, should cause a huge increase in the already large numbers of Chinese tourists and expatriates.

Together with the 1.6 million square feet occupied by the dragon-shaped Dragon Mart, the newer Dragon Mart 2 and the proposed new Dragon City development with its projected 11 million square feet will cover the same area as an average small town. Since 2006, incoming Chinese expat numbers have soared four-fold to around 200,000, with the new developments expected to add hundreds of thousands more including tourism arrivals. The official line is that, once the new Chinatown is completed, it will serve as a representative of the ‘strong cultural and trade ties between China and the UAE’. As always, money talks, and the language it uses nowadays is most often Mandarin Chinese.
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