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City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  507 ratings  ·  60 reviews
City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism by Jim Krane. St Martin's Pr,2009 ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by St. Martin's Press (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This account of Dubai’s history and challenges isn’t quite a textbook, but it’s much closer to that than the sort of popular nonfiction people read for entertainment. It is quite thorough, covering Dubai’s history, its leaders, the downsides and seedy underbelly to its fantastic growth, and the challenges it faces going forward. The book is organized in academic fashion, in short topical subsections, and would be well-suited to a college course.

For someone who doesn’t know much about Dubai – I r
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I lived very near Dubai practically visited the city every weekend for 2 years.

This book would be a fantastic read for anyone who is interested in Dubai for whatever reason. I have some very strong feelings about Dubai, mostly negative, and this book helped change a lot of my thoughts about this very interested city.

The book is divided in to basically three sections, and I really enjoyed all of them.

The first section is the history of Dubai. This was my favorite part. It really chan
Mohammed Rasheen
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
When my grandfather first came to Dubai, early 70s, he crossed the Arabian sea in a dhow, like most of the people did during those times, from Bombay without a passport. My mother said there was no contact from him at all for around 4 months, no news from him, and no letters except the one he wrote home just before he left the Bombay. And then it started coming after long wait which had long descriptions about his trip how this dhow stopped some offshores of Khorfakhan how he had to swim to the ...more
Apr 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
I'm not sorry I didn't read this book before moving to the UAE, but I do wish I had read it sooner after our arrival. It answered so many questions I've had about Dubai over the last few months, and I loved all the great "insider" stories. I also appreciated the very even-handed treatment of Dubai - the author neither fetes Dubai undeservedly nor dismisses its oddly triumphant successes. It's tempting to characterize the UAE as a backwards qausi-nation of migrant tribesman who subsisted for a mi ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you’re one of the more than 16 million international visitsors that are likely to travel to Dubai in the next 12 months and looking for a book to provide you with all the background history on the United Arab Emirates best known Emirate, then Krane has written the book for you.

City of Gold is a very readable account of how a range of bold moves made by its ruling family, the al-Maktoums, managed to transform a small Emirate, that only switched on the electrical lights in 1967, into a regiona
Aug 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this book in anticipation of my graduate program’s intercession trek to Dubai. I wanted to get a general overview of the city so that I could really understand what I was seeing and get the most out of my time there. This book did not disappoint*. It gave a concise but thorough history of the city and its rise to the global stage. It also introduced me to the founding fathers of modern Dubai: Sheikh Rashid, whose vision saw Dubai transforming from a small village on the edge of nowhere to ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last quarter of this book is when it really gets going and becomes hard to put down. Great insight into Sheikh Mohammed's decision making process and how he factors in being an in between of the US and Iran, and explains why democracy will likely never become prominent within the country.. Found the overall history to be fascinating, and even after living in the area for two years, Krane was able to clarify things that I had previously believed. If interested in how to build a city and major ...more
Rachel Carter
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Fascinating. I simultaneously wish that Dubai didn't exist, and that I could move there.

Krane is a journalist for the Economist, and has a lot of flair for storytelling. He discusses many aspects of Dubai, including it's tribal system of government, middle-eastern culture and history, feats in engineering, environmental and labor issues, and current local and global economic situation.
Oct 12, 2009 rated it liked it
There are thick layers of fog in this book and gorgeous sunshine. As in the city of Dubai, the history seems useless. If it's happening now it seems to take on the graceful arc of the Burj al Arab hotel and glimmer in the desert sun. ...more
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book confirmed my preconceived notions that Dubai is both a strange and fascinating place. It doesn’t quite fit the mold created by other countries in that region, yet it’s not quite Westernized either. It seems to walk a fine line, but a zigzagged one, if that makes any sense.
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. The beginning (History of Dubai) was the best part of the book. This was very interesting throughout and it gives an honest, un-biased telling of the rise of Dubai. I am already recommending this book to other co-workers.
Jennifer Pletcher
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is about the city of Dubai - one of 7 cities in the UAE. A city that is not even 60 years old and has transformed from a dusbowl to one of the richest cities on the planet. It is one of the fastest growing cities. Even though it is surrounded by some of the most dangerous places in the world, it remains one of the safest.

The author uses this book to report about the people of Dubai. He delves into the government (the crown prince and royal family that makes all the decisions), the migr
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
A worthwhile read for anyone who wants to understand how Dubai became what it is. I am going there in a month, and I’m sure I will be grateful for the layers of context this book has provided when I experience the city. My only quibble is that the book is a bit oddly structured and somewhat underdeveloped in the second half, but it’s nevertheless pleasantly readable throughout.

The book was published in 2009, with an epilogue addressing the effects of the financial crisis on Dubai’s growth; it w
Anwar Maricar
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in dubai since mid 70s I thought I knew all about dubai, until I read this book

only then, I had to undervalue myself

in real, I knew less than 10% of this book

places like Grey McKenzie, have seen it. but, did not know when it started and how

people tell of dubai from 1970s, but, the story goes back to 1830s

very interesting read, it puts you into mesmerisation of the stories no one previously told

exceptional ! don't think that any other book would have more contents than this. well resea
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great comprehensive writing covering the region's history from before the Bani Yas Tribe all the way to the rapid transition of the city today. What I liked about this book is how it explores and connects various perspectives, with increasing day-to-day examples toward the second half of the book that make it engaging and easily relatable. If you want to best understand Dubai, and to a smaller extent the Emirates in one book, this is a solid choice. ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

A fascinating book charting the rise and stumble of Dubai and the UAE as a whole. A great insight into the allure, opportunities and challenges of an increasingly globalised society. A shame that the final chapter is a bit wet - otherwise 5*s would have been richly deserved.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The antedotial testimonials coupled with the journalstic facts were a perfect combination. I learned a lot from this book.
Sayde Scarlett
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a long-term resident of Dubai, and this is one of the fairest accounts of the city-state's history. It's also incredibly readable, informative, and lucidly written. ...more
Sophia Wu
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
It was interesting but felt extremely dated now that it’s a decade old. Spent most of the second half looking things up to see what the current state of everything was.
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Dubai: The Story of the World’s Fastest City by Jim Krane is a fascinating and enlightening book about the development and the grandiose personalities that pervade Dubai’s historical landscape. The book is divided up into the historically positive developments of Dubai and the drawbacks of its aggressive growth alongside with its future challenges. Mr. Kane does an exquisite job painting the story of the rise of the late Sheikh Rashid al Maktoum who took risk by “betting the farm” on a handful o ...more
Alex Zakharov
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Got it for the trip to the region and mostly enjoyed it – first half is a chronological history of the city’s development while the second is a collection of essays on a variety of topics (prostitution, terrorism, traffic, immigration) that play out in an often unusual form in Dubai. Some notes (from the book and the trip):

- Very open to immigration and absence of safety net nicely bypasses the issues faced by Europe and US. In that sense almost self-regulating.
- Stable, same-family rule with bl
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-regional
This informative and fact-filled book was a highly valued companion on my recent visit to Dubai. The first three chapters describe the city's origins in oil and pearls. They read slowly to me and I wasn't sure I was going to make it through the book. However, around page 60 the city's story starts to unfold more rapidly. I was intrigued by the uniqueness of the circumstances and the vision of Sheikh Rashid. I found the writing on planes, real estate and commerce to be easy to follow and illumina ...more
Philip Girvan
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Book is particularly strong on the early history: the details re the rise of the al-Marktoums, who have had 175 years of uninterrupted succession, and the family's willingness to take risks (developing ports, airlines, a vibrant tourism industry); Iranian missteps which have greatly benefited Dubai; the uneasy relationship with Britain; the tensions between Islam and Dubai's commitment to capitalism and cosmopolitanism.

Timing is right for an updated edition, but this provides a good introductio
E.M. Epps
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Astonishingly good. I would wish that all countries had books this riveting written about them, but I don't think it's possible; most places just won't make your jaw drop this often. If this were a story about oil, I wouldn't find it very interesting. But oil came late and comparatively little. Instead, the history of Dubai is primarily shaped by the ambition of the Makhtoum family to make their city among the best in the world. And I find ambition a fascinating thing. Monarchy has a major upsid ...more
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Krane delivers a great synopsis of Dubai’s startling emergence (at least I think so, having never been there). This is an exemplary example of neutrality, positioning Dubai presumably as it is without any other apparent agenda on the author’s behalf. Roughly speaking, the first half traces the city’s transformation from sand to Singapore in fewer than 50 years (or, in many ways, fewer than 15 years). Obviously an amazing – even inspiring – story, I damn near began thinking a hereditary monarchy ...more
Travel Writing
Mar 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Dubai
First, this book fascinates and infuriates me in equal measure. I am assuming that if you read this book while safely ensconced in another country, it would read like, "What a fascinating country with some serious issues. I wonder how that will all unfold?"

While living in the UAE, it reads like, "Godd@#^t! Thats why human trafficking, work slavery, and economic advantage is based solely on skin color and nationality! No wonder you can't get decent stats on anything: car wrecks, work place death
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came away from a recent trip to Dubai, a place I had never been interested in visiting, astounded by the transformation this place has gone through in the last 50 years.

I read this book to wrap my head around how a small Emirati fishing village with no electricity became a global city with the world's tallest building, busiest international airport, free college, and a population that is 83% foreigners. Did I mention this happened in 50 years??

This book absolutely helped me understand Dubai's
A great overview of Dubai's history, past and present. Particularly liked the author's exploration of the Al Maktoum family and the last three sheiks' motivations to create Dubai literally out of sand. The presentation of the book does put all the negatives (poor labor conditions, horrendous traffic, sex trafficking, eg) at the end, which is a bit jarring. I would have preferred more review of foreign policy as well - beyond just relations with Iran, US, and Israel (which was primarily covered i ...more
Tahir Hussain
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the BEST books to read on How an Economy works, Real Estate Booms, Developments, Creating Business avenues out of Nothing.
Dubai was a DESERT in the 70's - This book tells you the Remarkable, One of a Kind Journey of a City that Boomed out of the Desert and is Now, Truly One of the Greatest Cities on Earth.
This book is for anybody who wants to understand How Industries and Opportunities are created.
HH Sheikh Mohammed is Truly an Inspirational Man. One of the Best Leaders in the World.
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