All questions about how this growth is being financed have been brushed aside. While the West has suffered, Dubai's extravagance has reached new levels: from its vast Terminal 3 at the international airport, which is due to be redundant when the even bigger Jabel Ali airport is built in 2015, to the $20m launch party of the Atlantis hotel two weeks ago.
But in recent weeks the cracks in Dubai's economy have become undeniable. Property prices have slumped, demand has dried up and, for the first time, the emirate is being forced to consider calling a halt to its expansion. Some analysts are claiming that Dubai could implode, weighed down under a pile of debt and, given that it has relatively small oil reserves, no obvious way of paying for it. One said: "This has been the most spectacular spending mission on Earth. But it's a mirage. If complex debt structures have brought the financial world to its knees, Dubai is the world's biggest toxic timebomb."
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